“Morning Joe” TV host Joe Scarborough asserted Friday that three top White House staffers had told him that President Trump could arrange to “spike” a negative story about him in the National Enquirer if Scarborough would call the president and apologize for his negative coverage of Trump.
He described the White House officials as “three people at the very top of the administration.”
“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 his response was, “Like ‘are you kidding me. I don’t know what they have, run a story, I’m not going to do it,’ Scarborough said.
“The calls kept coming and they were like ‘you need to call, please call’,” he added.
Trump has often spoken of his long-standing personal relationship with David Pecker, the owner of the National Enquirer. During the 2016 campaign, Trump several times referred to negative stories in the tabloid aimed at his rivals, such as Ben Carson and Ted Cruz.
After Scarborough’s appearance Friday morning, Trump tweeted: “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”
Scarborough and his co-host and fiance Mika Brzezinski postponed a vacation and appeared on “Morning Joe” on Friday to respond to a series of very personal tweets from Trump on Thursday.
The MSNBC host said the episode represented “really strange obsessions with this show and in particular really disturbing obsession with Mika.”
The pair said the White House appeals came after her daughters and ex-husband began getting calls earlier this year, purportedly from National Enquirer reporters, indicating a negative story was in the works.
Scarborough said that at one point a tabloid reporter was staking out Brzezinski’s house and questioned him as he was leaving.
“They were calling my children, they were calling close friends and they were pinning this story on my ex-husband, who I knew would never do that, so I knew immediately that it was a lie and that they had nothing,” Brzezinski said. “And these calls persisted for quite some time and then Joe had the conversations that he had with the White House where they said, ‘Oh, this could go away.’”
Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, has known Trump for more than a decade, although the relationship has turned testy in recent months.
He said that during the campaign Trump would call him to brag about his friendship with Pecker and urge Joe to see the latest negative story in the tabloid about Ben Carson or other Trump campaign rivals.
“All these story that were planted in the National Enquirer for people that Donald Trump wanted to attack, and then he would talk about it on the campaign trail,” Scarborough said.
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