The Media Abetted Trump — and Not Just the Tabloids

Ronan Farrow has an extensive piece at the New Yorker today, documenting how the National Enquirer repeatedly bought salacious stories people were peddling about Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primary and general election, just to bury those stories.

We already knew that the Enquirer pulled this stunt with Karen McDougal, the former Playmate with whom Trump reportedly had an affair while married to Melania, and this piece tracks a similar trajectory regarding a tale about a child (now an adult) who is allegedly the product of another of Trump's affairs.

I recommend reading the entire piece, but I just want to highlight this excerpt:
In the summer of 2017, the Associated Press began investigating A.M.I.'s suppression of the story. At one point, reporters were hours away from posting a piece, but A.M.I. assembled a legal team to lobby against publication. The team included Lanny Davis, a crisis manager and longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton who did similar work on behalf of Harvey Weinstein. Davis and Howard met with a reporter, an editor, and a lawyer from the Associated Press. Citing attorney-client privilege, Davis said that he could not reveal the legal advice he gave Howard, but he described some of what happened in the meeting.

Davis told me that Howard presented the A.P. with claims that cast doubt on Sajudin's character, including the allegations on the anonymous Web site. "When Dylan told me he had these documents and he hoped he would kill the story, my opening statement was, 'I am not here to kill any story. That's not what I do for a living,'" Davis told me. "I encouraged my client, Mr. Howard, to reveal what he had about the source of the story." Davis said he told the A.P., "It's up to you to decide whether to write the story as a 'he says, he says' or not." At the time, the A.P. did not run the story.

On Wednesday, thirty minutes after The New Yorker contacted A.M.I. for comment about the payment to Sajudin, Radar Online, an A.M.I. publication, posted a story acknowledging the thirty-thousand-dollar payment but saying that the former doorman's story was false. The Radar Online piece quoted Howard saying, "When we realized we would be unable to publish, and other media outlets approached the source about his tale, we released Sajudin from the exclusivity clause that had accompanied his $30,000 payment, freeing him to tell his story to whomever he wanted."

Two A.M.I. employees told me that they'd never seen such a release during their time at the company. A.M.I. has said that Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model, has a similar amendment to her contract, but McDougal argues that the company continues to try to prevent her from talking to the press.
The reason I am highlighting that excerpt is because here are the AP and Radar this morning:

screencap of an AP article headline: '$30,000 rumor? Tabloid paid for, spiked, salacious Trump tip'

screencap of a Radar article headline: 'Prez Love Child Shocker! Ex-Trump Worker Peddling Rumor Donald Has Illegitimate Child'

So, not only did the company that owns the National Enquirer and Radar buy the story about Trump's secret child just to bury it, but the Associated Press, a highly-regarded international wire news service, buried their story on it, too.

And now both companies are scrambling to try to (unsuccessfully) whitewash their roles in abetting Trump's rise to the presidency.

This, of course, is hardly the only evidence we have of media abetting Trump, from their disproportionate focus on Hillary Clinton's emails to broadcasting empty podiums for days.

And it was hardly just rags like the Enquirer. It was "serious" news outlets; broadcast and print media. They abetted Trump in myriad ways, and they still won't own up to it.

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