'Morning Joe' Hosts Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski Accuse Trump of Blackmail

President Trump allegedly tried to force an apology out of the TV hosts under the threat of unfavorable coverage in the National Enquirer

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

Two television hosts attacked by U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the Republican leader's mental health on Friday and accused him of trying to exert pressure on them over unfavorable coverage, calling it blackmail.

Trump drew a barrage of criticism on Thursday, including from his fellow Republicans, after he called Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of the MSNBC "Morning Joe" program, "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and said she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when she visited his Mar-A-Lago estate around New Year's Eve.

He referred to her co-host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican U.S. congressman, as "Psycho Joe."

The two television anchors, who were on friendly terms with Trump early in the 2016 presidential campaign but have been critical of him since he took office, responded with a column in The Washington Post on Friday.

"This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas," they wrote.

FILE PHOTO: Joe Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski speaking onstage during the 'Morning Joe' panel. January 6, 2012 Credit: FREDERICK M. BROWN/AFP

Scarborough added on the "Morning Joe" show on Friday that he received calls from three top administration officials asking the co-hosts to call Trump and apologize for their coverage of his administration. They told him that if he called and apologized, Trump would get the story killed, Scarborough said.

"The calls kept coming, and kept coming. And they were like 'Call, you need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe. Just pick up the phone and call him,'" Scarborough said. "It's blackmail."

In a Twitter message on Friday, Trump effectively denied the allegation, giving a different version of what transpired around the National Enquirer piece.

"Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show," he wrote.

There was no immediate comment from the National Enquirer. The tabloid specializes in scandalous stories about celebrities and has been supportive of Trump.

In the Post column, Brzezinski and Scarborough lambasted Trump as mentally unstable, saying he had an "unhealthy obsession" with their television program, and cited what they called his continued mistreatment of women.

On the "Morning Joe" show, Brzezinski, a daughter of former White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, said her main concern was how such behavior affects the country.

"I am very concerned as to what this once again reveals about the president of the United States," said Brzezinski, who is engaged to be married to Scarborough.

Trump uses Twitter prolifically and often as a vehicle to attack critics, including the "Morning Joe" hosts, but Thursday's tweets were seen by many as offensive.

Brzezinski and Scarborough dismissed as lies Trump's claims, made in the Thursday Twitter messages, that he refused to have dinner with them or that Brzezinski had had a face lift.
They also said they had seen a change in the president over the last few years.

"President Trump launched personal attacks against us Thursday, but our concerns about his unmoored behavior go far beyond the personal. America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president," they wrote in the Post column.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott