Is President Using National Enquirer to Blackmail Journalists? Some Journalists Say Yes.
PresidentÂ Donald TrumpÂ appears to have just implicated himself in a blackmail scheme.
After being attacked by President Trump, MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough andÂ MikaÂ Brzezinski penned a Washington Post op-ed expressing their concern about the president’s fitnessÂ â€“ to watch their show, and revealed some of the details the president had mentioned in his two-tweet attack.
“President Trump launched personal attacks against us Thursday, but our concerns about his unmoored behavior go far beyond the personal,” the co-hosts write. “Americaâ€™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.'”
That was the first paragraph of their opinion column titled, “Donald Trump is not well.”
This is the second:
“The presidentâ€™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‘Â 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.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper calls it a “stunning charge.”
Stunning charge from Joe and Mika in today’s Washington Post –> pic.twitter.com/DhzLRYR0Dl
â€” Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 30, 2017
To the casualÂ reader this may have seemed an odd thing to mention up so high in the op-ed, when there are so many other things they discuss, but they know their audience well, and his name isÂ Donald Trump.
Likely assuming Trump wouldn’t get very far in their counter-attack, they clearly baited him up top.
And it worked.
It took Joe Scarborough all of seven minutes to respond.
“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,” he tweeted to Trump at 9:02 AM.
“Why do you keep lying about things that are so easily disproven? What is wrong with you?” Scarborough followed up with at 9:03 AM.
On Friday morning’s show, the couple offered more background, as Philly.com’s Rob Tornoe reportsÂ (see video above):
â€œWe got a call from the White House that theÂ National EnquirerÂ is going to run a negative story against you guys. Donald is friends with the guy who runs theÂ National Enquirer,â€ Scarborough said, claiming he received multiple calls from three individuals at the top of the Trump administration saying the president would call theÂ Enquirerâ€™sÂ owner David Pecker and spike the story if he personally apologized to him forÂ Morning Joeâ€™sÂ coverage.
â€œThatâ€™s blackmail,â€Â Morning JoeÂ co-host Donnie Deutsch said.
â€œThey were pinning the story on my ex-husband,â€ Brzezinski added, â€œAnd I knew he would never do that. So I knew it was a lie and they had nothing. These calls persisted for quite some time. They were threatening. They were calling my children.â€
â€œThese calls persisted for quite some time. Then Joe had the conversations that he had with the White House where they said, â€˜This could go away,â€ Brzezinski said.Â â€œOur response, after talking to my ex-husband, talking to Joe, talking to my kids, was â€˜screw it, let them run it.’â€
So, let’s sum up.
The President admits first of all that he has the power to “stop a National Enquirer article.” That in itself is news, and should make the paper’s readers at least ask why.
Raw Story’s Brad Reed has the answer:
TheÂ National Enquirer’sÂ “boss David Pecker is a longtime Trump ally.”
The link mentioning David Pecker goes to a new article by Jeffrey ToobinÂ in The New Yorker.Â
Next, as ThinkProgress editor and founder Judd Legum says, what Scarborough is describing is blackmail:
What you are describing is blackmail so it is time to name names. If you keep the names secret, you enabling them to continue. https://t.co/ONBfk2FOCP
â€” Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 30, 2017
Both Trump and the “Morning Joe” co-hosts admit The National Enquirer was going to run a scandalous piece on Scarborough and Brzezinski. For some reason apparently it did not. But clearly, both parties acknowledge there was a story and there was discussion between the co-hosts and the White House, be it Trump and/or his aides, to kill it.
Some responses via Twitter:
Former GOP Congressman:
.@JoeNBC just now says that National Enquirer & Trump colluded to blackmail Joe and Mika w negative story unless Joe apologized to Trump.
â€” David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) June 30, 2017
Journalism school professor:
â€” Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) June 30, 2017
Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones:
Trump and senior WH aides colluding with the National Enquirer to blackmail journalists is a big deal. Congress should investigate.
â€” David Corn (@DavidCornDC) June 30, 2017
Former Obama DOJ chief spokeasperson:
Hard to believe we live in a country where the president sics a supermarket tabloid on tv hosts who criticize him unless they apologize.
â€” Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) June 30, 2017
CNN senior media correspondent:
â€” Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 30, 2017
Also via Twitter, again, ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum offers a thread that includes these statements, and a link to ThinkProgress’ story byÂ Aaron Rupar, “Morning Joe hosts say Trump tried to blackmail them with National Enquirer hit-piece”:
1. Let’s be clear about what Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough are alleging https://t.co/aczuzyIGgF
â€” Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 30, 2017
2. They are accusing President Trump of BLACKMAIL. This isn’t just tawdry. It could be illegal
3. They are basically accusing Trump of ordering the National Enquirer to pursue a hit piece against them
4. They describe Mika, Joe and her kids being harassed over a period of time
5. The top White House aides contact Joe and say it’ll all go away if he calls Trump and apologizes for his coverage
6. Implicit here is a promise to make future coverage more favorable to the White House
7. These are very serious charges and, according to Joe, he has written proof that it happenedÂ
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Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports
Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.
“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”
WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.
Twitter is currently recommending I follow neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin. Incredible stuff. pic.twitter.com/F2f9c75Tla
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) December 2, 2022
As did other Twitter users.
— Camas Defense Alliance (@CamDefAlliance) December 2, 2022
Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”
Earlier today, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett. pic.twitter.com/FadEr3ZcUm
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) November 23, 2022
At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye West–Nick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.
“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”
Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.
SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”
“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.
Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”
Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr
Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports
In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.
“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”
Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.
“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”
“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”
In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.
Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”
The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”
“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”
“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”
Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.
The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”
“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.
Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.
Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”
As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.
“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”
For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.
Image: Elon Musk by Duncan.Hull via Wikipedia
15-Year Old Campaigning Door-to-Door for Raphael Warnock Shot Through Door– ‘No Indication’ Politically Motivated: Police
A 15-year old boy campaigning door-to-door for U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) was shot by a 42-year old man through the front door, according to Savannah Police who claim “there is no indication the shooting was politically motivated.”
The man was arrested after police responded to the shooting on Thursday around 5:35 PM, “and discovered a 15-year-old male victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg.”
His injuries are not life threatening.
“According to the preliminary investigation, the teen was campaigning for Raphael Warnock for the upcoming run-off election when the incident occurred. While at the front door of one of the residences on Hartridge Street, the suspect fired a shot through the closed door, striking the teen,” according to the Savannah Police statement.
The 42-year old man “was booked into the Chatham County jail on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery.”
“I am saddened to learn about this incident,” said Sen. Warnock, who faces off against Herschel Walker in the U.S. Senate runoff Tuesday, as WSAV-TV reports. “I am praying for the victim and their family and wish them a full recovery.”
Watch the video from WSAV below or at this link.
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