‘Morning Joe’ hosts accuse White House of blackmail over National Enquirer story

Julia Munslow

“Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough Friday accused the White House of blackmailing and threatening them with a damaging story in the National Enquirer unless the duo apologized to President Trump for their coverage of his administration.

The pair appeared on their MSNBC morning show to respond to Trump’s Thursday twitter attack in which he described them as “low I.Q.”  and “psycho” and suggested Brzezinski got a face-lift.

During that appearance, the engaged co-hosts claimed that top White House officials had called them and told them they had to beg the president to block a reportedly negative story. Brzezinski said National Enquirer reporters also repeatedly called her children and close friends and waited outside her house.

President Trump, who has a long history of criticizing the hosts and has claimed repeatedly that he does not watch “Morning Joe,” tweeted Friday morning to respond to the National Enquirer allegations.

“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,” the president tweeted.

Scarborough fired back at Trump on Twitter Friday, writing that Trump’s June 30 tweet is “another lie.” Scarborough continued: “I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.”


“Why do you keep lying about things that are so easily disproven? What is wrong with you?” Scarborough wrote.

Brzezinski and Scarborough first mentioned the allegation in a Washington Post column published Friday morning, which they wrote in response to Trump’s tweets attacking them.

“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,” the co-hosts wrote.

The National Enquirer is owned by David Pecker, a close friend of Trump’s.

Brzezinski and Scarborough elaborated on their claims on “Morning Joe” Friday.

“We got a call [saying] the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys. … They said if you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story,” Scarborough said.

Scarborough said three senior White House officials called him and that he responded, “Are you kidding me? … I’m not going to do it.”

But the calls kept coming, Scarborough said: “Call, you need to call. Please call.”

Before the calls from the White House began, Brzezinski said the National Enquirer reporters repeatedly called her teenage children and close friends and attempted to pin the story on her ex-husband, who she said wouldn’t attempt to push a negative story about her.

At one point, a man from the tabloid was staked outside of Brzezinski’s house in a van, Scarborough said.

Yahoo News photo Illustration; photos: AP (2), Brooks Kraft/Getty Images

After Brzezinski talked to her children, her ex-husband and Scarborough, she said she decided that the proper response to the calls was, “Screw ’em, let them run it. We’re not calling.”

The National Enquirer eventually ran a story that reported Scarborough bought three six-packs of beer per week, Scarborough said.

“I’ve never bought a beer. You can check it out. I’ll be Gary Hart here. I’ve never bought a beer in my life,” Scarborough quipped.

The National Enquirer denied the allegations in a statement released Friday.

The statement reads: “At the beginning of June, we accurately reported a story that recounted the relationship between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the truth of which is not in dispute. At no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story. We have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”

Scarborough pointed out that several stories published by the National Enquirer attacked Trump’s enemies and that the president would later talk about those stories on the campaign trail.

 

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