MSNBC "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski asserted on June 30 that President Donald Trump attempted to blackmail them into a making an apology (video below).
Scarborough explained how the White House demanded that he and Mika apologize for their criticism of the president or a slam piece was going to be run in the National Enquirer, which is owned by Trump's friend, David Pecker, CEO of American Media:
I think we have to talk about it now, because it explains the relationship and his really strange obsession with this show and, in particular, his really disturbing obsession with Mika.
We got a call that, "Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys, and Donald is friends, the president is friends with the guy that runs the National Enquirer," and they said, "If you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story."
I had three people at the very top of the administration calling me. And my response was, "Are you kidding me? I don't know what they have. Run the story. Do it." The calls kept coming, and kept coming, and they were like, "Call, you need to call, please call, come on, Joe, just pick up the phone and call him."
According to Brzezinski, the National Enquirer sent reporters to harass her children and friends:
Let me explain what they were threatening. They were calling my children, they were calling close friends ... And they were pinning the story on my ex-husband, who would absolutely never do that.
So I knew it immediately it was a lie and that they had nothing. 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 recalled when Trump told him during the 2016 election how he (Trump) was friends with Pecker and suggested the National Enquirer was running stories to attack Trump's political rivals during the GOP primary:
What makes it even worse for them is Donald Trump called me during the campaign, and bragged about his friend who ran the National Enquirer, and he’d say, "Have you seen the Ben Carson story? Have you seen the Ben Carson story? Have you seen the story in the Enquirer?" and then he’d talk about it...
There were all these stories planted in the National Enquirer for people that Donald Trump wanted to attack, and then he would talk about it on the campaign trail. So when we heard it, I said, "Oh, so we’ve gone from campaign mode to now trying to attack us."
The New Yorker has published a new article that goes into details about the friendship between Pecker and Trump.
In response to the co-hosts, Trump tweeted on June 30: "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 tweeted back: "Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months."
Scarborough added: "Why do you keep lying about things that are so easily disproven? What is wrong with you?"
The Washington Post published an op-ed by Brzezinski and Scarborough about Trump, which questioned the president's mental fitness:
President Trump launched personal attacks against us Thursday, but our concerns about his unmoored behavior go far beyond the personal. America’s leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president. We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, "Morning Joe."
The president’s unhealthy obsession with our show has been in the public record for months, and we are seldom surprised by his posting nasty tweets about us. During the campaign, the Republican nominee called Mika “neurotic” and promised to attack us personally after the campaign ended. 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.
On June 30, the National Enquirer published a piece on the couple titled: "Joe & Mika: TV Couple’s Sleazy Cheating Scandal."