As dominoes continue to fall in this presidential race, folks are wondering what type of general election candidate Donald Trump will choose to be, but the businessman projects utter confidence (although he has a heftier task than expected) as he prepares to face the Democratic nominee. In all likelihood, barring a minor miracle — a ballot box surge and superdelegate reversal for Bernie Sanders — Hillary Clinton will be that person. Trump will confront her with an assortment of unsavory accusations. After all, he dealt the same to his Republican rivals. And he’ll no doubt do it with an assist from the National Enquirer.
As others have noted, Trump enjoys a curiously cozy relationship with the Enquirer (which actually used to frequently target him in another era). Take, for instance, the below issue (dated Feb. 29) which spread unsubstantiated rumors about Marco Rubio’s sexuality and dragged Heidi Cruz’s alleged history of depression. Trump was only there for the picture.
Let’s dive a little deeper, shall we?
Several Trump Rivals Did Their Tabloid Time
Here’s a brief rundown of some other Enquirer stories on Trump opponents. These stories grow progressively more bizarre:
- September 2015 – Carly Fiorina: The tabloid printed scandalous allegations that former Hewlett Packard CEO hid a drug-addict daughter. This was actually Fiorina’s stepdaughter, who was raised by her mother, Patricia. The tabloid also painted the then-candidate as a homewrecker and pathological liar.
- September 2015 – Jeb Bush: In an effort to frame Bush’s own work ethic as nonexistent, the tabloid published photos of his daughter, Noelle, taking smoke breaks, which allegedly proved that she’s a huge slacker at work.
- October 2015 – Ben Carson: After the former neurosurgeon Carson pulled off a brief poll boost last fall, the tabloid ran a story that claimed Carson left a sponge in a patient’s brain and “almost killed a guy” while racking up countless medical malpractice suits.
- December 2015 – Marco Rubio: The Florida senator reportedly wanted no one to learn about his “cocaine connection.” This story revolved around the “political dynamite” of a brother-in-law who was arrested on drug and racketeering charges in 1987.
- December 2015 – Marco Rubio: The tabloid took aim again at Little Marco, this time for an alleged “love child” that sprang from Rubio’s “zipper problem.” Yes, the Enquirer said the married father (of four) also had a second family that stayed quiet in exchange for money.
- February 2016 – Jeb Bush: The tabloid jumped with glee at a tale of Jeb snorting cocaine on the night his father was elected president. Granted, this story came from an excerpt of a new book, Jeb! and the Crime Family, but the Enquirer had no qualms in repeating it.
- February 2016 – Bernie Sanders: In one hell of a fictional extravaganza, the publication painted the Bern as a spy for Vladimir Putin. Yep, the tabloid expects its audience to believe that Putin’s been pulling Sanders’ strings since recruiting him during a 1988 visit to Yaroslavl, Russia, which was orchestrated — presumably — by the KGB, who “flipped” Sanders’ allegiance against the United States.
The Tabloid Ties Of A Republican Nominee
The Enquirer remains a dubious source, but its political smears all point toward a possible culprit. Trump is a close friend of David Pecker, the CEO of the tabloid’s publisher, American Media, Inc. This company also prints Globe, which the company says, “delivers a sensationalized mix of scandal, sex, crime and hard-hitting celebrity stories that goes beyond the National Enquirer.” Both tabloids have prominently featured unsavory stories about Trump rivals over the past several months. These 2013 Trump tweets reveal high praise for Pecker.
Three years later, it appears that Pecker remains loyal to his pal. The tabloid even made its first presidential endorsement in a March article titled, “Trump Must Be President.” Additionally, Trump penned his own column last August, a piece titled, “Why I Am The Only Choice For President.” Yet Trump hilariously denies any association with the publication even as his long-running alliance continues to sprout sour fruit. Only in the Enquirer does Trump continue to receive glowing praise and a blanket moratorium on the controversial words that come out of his mouth. Instead, you’ll see swooning cover stories called, “The Donald Trump That Nobody Knows!”
Why The National Enquirer (Sort Of) Matters
Due to the Enquirer‘s lowbrow supermarket tabloid status, most of their screeds remain worthy of a mere chuckle. However, the publication built some enduring political-gossip cred in 2007 when it broke the John Edwards scandal, which sent Edwards’ Democratic nomination hopes into oblivion when it revealed his dalliances with campaign worker Rielle Hunter. After several subsequent stories about the couple’s lovechild, Edwards admitted having an affair with Hunter. The scandal not only obliterated his nomination prospects but killed his political career outright.
Most recently, the tabloid used this cred while attempting its takedown of Ted Cruz. The five-mistress tale gained a lot of attention — for its salacious and messy nature — but more people believed that Cruz is the Zodiac Killer than a man with a revolving bedroom door. Meanwhile, Trump denied allegiance to the tabloid when the Cruz story turned to wildfire:
“I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman [sic] and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”
Cruz’s presidential bid eventually failed, but it wasn’t because of the Enquirer. However, they certainly didn’t help him. The tabloid’s final smear of Cruz was about how Ted’s father, Rafael Cruz, was allegedly tight with Lee Harvey Oswald before John F. Kennedy’s assassination. These stories illustrate further how the Enquirer drags Trump’s rivals through the mud while only covering him in a positive way, which remains bizarre in light of how he’s regularly called out by the rest of the media. With Cruz out of the race, the Enquirer can now devote more attention to the remaining (serious) Trump rival. And they’ve already gotten started.
Hillary Clinton Fully Arrives As A Tabloid Cover Star
Actually, the Clintons never fully left the tabloids, but Hillary’s received quite the bashing ever since her current presidential bid began. In June 2015, Globe printed an “I’m An Alcoholic” cover, which was followed by the Enquirer‘s “Hillary Caught In Sex Scandal Coverup” in July.