The White House is coming out to respond to the accusation that Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were essentially blackmailed by the White House to stop being so critical of President Trump.
The Morning Joe hosts first wrote about this in their WaPo rebuttal to the President today:
This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas.
They talked about this on the air afterwards, with Scarborough alleging it was conveyed to them that if they “call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story.”
He added there were “three people” in the administration calling him.
And now it’s been revealed that Scarborough had been in contact with Jared Kushner. However, there’s already been some pushback about this from the White House.
Per CNN’s Brooke Baldwin this afternoon:
“This is from Jim Acosta, our senior White House correspondent, that a White House official says Joe Scarborough called Jared Kushner about the National Enquirer story at issue. Kushner, according to this official, told Scarborough to call the President. The official denied there was ever any offer from Kushner of a quid pro quo; in other words, softer coverage for spiking the Enquirer story.”
MSNBC received a brief comment from a senior administration official:
Senior admin official texts me continued pushback on Morning Joe version of events: “@JoeNBC called WH guys NOT other way around.”
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) June 30, 2017
And Fox News also has a report out with a “White House source” telling them that there was no, as the Fox report puts it, “quid pro quo”:
Scarborough asked Kushner if there was anything that could be done about the article, the source said, given Trump’s friendship with David Pecker, the chief executive of The Enquirer’s parent company, American Media. Kushner allegedly told Scarborough that the former Republican congressman needed to talk to the president himself about the issue, to which Scarborough replied that Trump was angry at him. The source said Kushner answered: “Well, then maybe you should apologize”…
But the source who spoke to Fox News said there was nothing in the conversation between Kushner and Scarborough to suggest a quid pro quo or blackmail – merely presenting the idea that if Scarborough wanted to get back on speaking terms with the president, perhaps an apology was in order.
The Daily Beast also has an anonymous White House official quoted as saying, “This is getting blown up on Twitter and elsewhere as some kind of blackmail operation. The truth is far more mundane. In this case, Joe was talking to Jared about his [bad] relationship with the president and a Enquirer hit piece he was uneasy about.”
President Trump weighed in on Twitter earlier after hearing the accusation, and the MSNBC host was quick to respond:
Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
You can watch CNN’s report above.
[image via screengrab]
Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac
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