Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough published a Washington Post op-ed on Friday claiming that top White House staffers threatened the hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" with a negative story in the National Enquirer unless the hosts begged President Donald Trump to stop it.
The op-ed came one day after the president bashed them in tweets Thursday morning.
"We ignored their desperate pleas," Scarborough and Brzezinski wrote.
The accusation by the MSNBC hosts is made more intriguing due to the long, documented relationship between Trump and the tabloid magazine.
The New Yorker published a long exposé on Trump's relationship with the National Inquirer earlier this week. In it, David Pecker, currently CEO of American Media, the parent company of the tabloid, told reporter Jeffrey Toobin that Trump is "a personal friend of mine."
Pecker and Trump have been friends for decades, according to the New Yorker, and Pecker once hired a columnist on the condition that she not "bash Trump and American Media."
Gus Wenner, the son of Rolling Stone cofounder and media mogul Jann Wenner, told Toobin that Pecker had admitted to him killing negative stories about Trump.
"He told me very bluntly that he had killed all sorts of stories for Trump," Wenner told The New Yorker, adding that the columnist Pecker that hired had threatened to go public with a negative story about Trump.
While Pecker denied the allegations to The New Yorker, Pecker said he uses his strong media presence to help his friends.
"I’d tell him every time I’d see him," said Pecker, adding that the National Enquirer's coverage of Trump was just giving the tabloid's readers what they want. "I’d say, ‘Who cares about governor or mayor, you should be President."
The article that Brzezinski and Scarborough allege the tabloid was planning to run on them concerned the pair's romantic relationship. The couple announced their plans to get married earlier this year.
Scarborough said on "Morning Joe" Friday that they received calls from at least three high-level officials in the Trump administration, who called to ask for certain stories to be "spiked."
"We got a call that, 'Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys..." Scarborough said on the show.
Trump responded by tweeting on Friday that it was actually Scarborough who called Trump to stop a National Inquirer article — a claim that Scarborough immediately denied by claiming to have texts and phone records from top officials.
The National Enquirer issued a statement in which they said the publication had "no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story."
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