BuzzFeed is out with a new report today that’s sure to make the next get-together between White House aide Jared Kushner and his media-obsessed father-in-law a bit more tense. Citing two sources familiar with the matter, the site reports that Kushner shopped the New York Observer to Clinton mega-donor Haim Saban and progressive media activist David Brock following the 2016 election. The secretive talks came after Kushner reportedly had less luck with more Trump-friendly suitors.
(Saban is the chairman of Splinter’s parent company Univision; he was recently pictured, along with Univison’s Chief Content Officer Isaac Lee, at a gathering at Kushner’s home. Splinter has reached out to both Saban and Kushner for comment about the proposed deal and will update if we hear back.)
Warzel writes that “a source familiar with the matter said that Kushner did not initiate the talks and largely recused himself after an initial discussion [with Saban and Brock], though he did not have any apparent reservations about selling to his father-in-law’s sworn enemies.” Then-Observer Editor in Chief Ken Kurson confirmed the discussions to Warzel on the record:
“I kept looking up to see if there was a black condor circling overhead but in person this legendary Democratic assassin [Brock] is perfectly friendly and reasonable. I was hoping a deal would happen because for me personally, once Jared went to Washington, the fun of editing the Observer was diminished,” Kurson told BuzzFeed News of the meeting, adding that he hoped the family would find a buyer who could install a new editor and vision for the publication.
Kushner bought the Observer in 2006, when he was 25 years old and the weekly was known for ruthlessly chronicling the Manhattan power set. But he subsequently ran the newspaper into the ground, and top reporters resigned as the publication took a cartoonishly pro-Trump stance during the 2016 campaign. The Observer announced its final print issue in November 2016, just days after the election, and Kushner sold the media company to a family trust in January 2017.
Brock and Sabam reportedly hoped the Observer would build upon the efforts of Brock’s existing Democratic media organs, like Media Matters for America and Shareblue. Per BuzzFeed, the talks fell apart when Kushner’s side floated a sale price of $20 million—double what the boy publisher paid for it a decade earlier, when it was much more vibrant. What keen business sense!
One can’t help but wonder how Trump might feel about his son-in-law and top aide engaging in such freelancing, particularly as the latter’s business ties have come under increasing scrutiny.
My other question: Did Ivanka know?