By PATRICIA SANTANA
Popular celebrity magazine The National Enquirer is being accused of buying and burying stories that portray President Trump in an unfavorable light. This practice is known as “catch and kill.” It’s thought that David Pecker, publisher of the Enquirer and longtime friend of Trump, has been doing this as a favor to the president.
All the purchased stories relate to allegations of Trump having affairs.
According to the Washington Post, the source allegedly paid off by the National Enquirer is a former Trump Tower doorman, Dino Sajudin, who told the Enquirer that Trump had a child outside of wedlock and that top executives of the Trump Organization were aware. Sajudin claims to have been paid $30,000 for the exclusive rights to the story but the Enquirer never published it.
As reported by CNN, another source coming forward is Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model. McDougal was paid $150,000 for her account of an affair with Trump that lasted nine months. Allegedly, the deal included an agreement that McDougal would publish regular columns on aging and fitness in the Enquirer. McDougal’s story was never run, and only a small portion of the agreed-to columns were published. American Media Inc. claims that McDougal did not write the columns.
Trump has denied all allegations of cheating.
Of all the news outlets that I read from to learn more about this story, I found the one with the most comprehensive coverage of this story was CNN. CNN’s homepage had more stories on this scandal than the Miami Herald, The Washington Post and The New York Times. On the Herald’s homepage, there was not a single story on the scandal to be found today. I found this surprising because it’s a story of national relevance. In the case of the Times, I had to scroll to find a link to the story.
I think this speaks to how desensitized news outlets are becoming to the latest Trump scandals and also how difficult it is to report on a Trump scandal when there are so many happening all the time.
The CNN coverage took many angles. There was an article reporting on the “catch and kill” practice and on Pecker and another article reporting on the different sources paid off by the Enquirer. CNN also published a poll on what Americans think of the Enquirer’s coverage of Trump. The website also had a video uploaded with reporters discussing the story. I found this to be very comprehensive coverage, and I feel that I learned the most from CNN.
The coverage by the New York Times focused more on the investigation into the Enquirer and its possible ties to the Trump campaign. The investigation is sparking a First Amendment debate and it is looking into whether any campaign laws were violated.
If it’s true that the Enquirer is engaging in this “catch and kill” practice as a favor to Trump, I think that’s a very troubling ethical issue. Journalism is supposed to speak truth to power, not facilitate its lies.