President Donald Trump on Friday called MSNBC’s Morning Joe “fake news” after host Joe Scarborough alleged senior White House aides asked him to apologize to the President to prevent the publication of a negative story about Scarborough in the National Enquirer.
“Watched low rated Morning Joe for first time in long time,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show.”
Scarborough made the allegation in a scathing op-ed he wrote with co-host Mika Brzezinski published in The Washington Post Friday. Scarborough reiterated the claim on MSNBC, saying “the calls kept coming” about the potential story from three top White House aides.
Scarborough has since responded to Trump’s tweet over the allegation, asking the President in a tweet why he keeps “lying about things that are easily disproven?”
“I have texts from your top aides and phone record,” Scarborough wrote. “Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.”
The White House did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment on the alleged communications.
“At the beginning of June, we accurately reported a story that recounted the relationship between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the truth of which is not in dispute,” said Dylan Howard, vice president of National Enquirer parent company American Media, Inc., in a statement Friday. “At no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story. We have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”
Trump’s relationship with the National Enquirer has long been the subject of controversy. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that David Pecker, longtime chief executive of American Media, Inc., paid $150,000 to a woman who alleged she had an affair with Trump, but did not publish the story.
The recent spat between the President and MSNBC hosts Scarborough and Brzezinski began Thursday, when Trump described the pair as “Psycho Joe” and “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” on Twitter, adding that Brzezinski once showed up to Mar-a-Lago “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
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