American Media, the company that owns the National Enquirer, paid a former Playboy model $150,000 to suppress her story of having an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year, and American Media reached the agreement in August for her to not share her story.
The Enquirer, which lost its top editor (the one responsible for the John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and Charlie Sheen being HIV-positive scoops) earlier this year, appears to have gone all-in on Trump. The contract it signed with McDougal obtained by the Journal doesn't name Trump but says that the tabloid has the rights to “any romantic, personal and/or physical relationship McDougal has ever had with any then-married man.” That's commitment.
The tabloid, which has endorsed Donald Trump and regularly runs thin-or-zero-sourced cover stories accusing Hillary Clinton of being very sick or very evil, denied the Journal's report, saying they paid McDougal only for a fitness column and some cover shoots. (She has never written for or appeared in any issue of the Enquirer.) The Trump campaign also dismissed the allegations.
What's not as dismissible the "very cozy" relationship between Trump and the Enquirer, which during the Republican primary, ran stories alleging that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the JFK assassination, that Ben Carson left a sponge in someone's head when he worked as a neurosurgeon, that Jeb Bush has a coke habit, and so on and so forth. In 2013, Trump suggested that David Pecker, CEO of American Media, should take over Time magazine.
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Under previous management, Trump was a frequent target of the Enquirer.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.