On Thursday morning, both The New Yorker and Associated Press ran tandem stories about how the famously Trump-friendly National Enquirer paid off a former Trump Tower doorman $30,000 for a "catch and kill" type of story alleging that Trump fathered an illegitimate child with an employee in the late '80s.
Radar Online, a sister publication of the National Enquirer, reported that the magazine had paid Dino Sajudin, who worked at one of Mr Trump's NY buildings, for the story but did not publish anything. Sajudin claimed that he heard rumors that the former star of The Celebrity Apprentice fathered a child out of wedlock with one of his employees who worked at the Trump World Tower. Cohen told the AP that he didn't know about the payment to the ex-doorman at the time.
Sajudin's ex-wife, Nikki Benfatto, also said that he is "infamous for making up stories", echoing the Trump Organization's response about the former doorman. The CEO of that parent company is a close personal friend of President Trump.
Both women said they had consensual relationships with Trump long before he was elected president.
Though the doorman Sajudin was bought and paid for his silence, the Enquirer spent weeks on the story before deciding there wasn't anything to prove its authenticity and let Sajudin out of his contract after the 2016 election.
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Four longtime Enquirer staff members contradicted Howard's statement during interviews with the AP.
Stories attacking Trump rivals or promoting Trump's campaign often bypassed the paper's normal fact-checking process, according to two people familiar with campaign-era copy.
The Enquirer staffers, all with years of experience negotiating source contracts, said the abrupt end to reporting combined with a binding, seven-figure penalty to stop the tipster from talking to anyone led them to conclude that this was a so-called "catch and kill.". McDougal has since said that she regrets signing the non-disclosure agreement and is now suing to get out of it.
Dylan Howard, editor-in-chief of the Enquirer, denied the company was "catching and killing" stories to protect Trump, saying the story was not published because the claims could not be proven.
"Once she's part of the company, then on the outside she can't be bashing Trump and American Media", Pecker said. The National Enquirer's publisher, American Media, Inc., paid Sajudin for his silence and threatened to sue him $1 million if he came forward with his controversial story or if he told him.
The methods AMI uses to hide headline-worthy stories should cause anyone thinking about reading their publications to reconsider their go-to choices to get real news.
Speaking with The Washington Post on Thursday, Sajudin said his story was true.