The Slatest

National Enquirer Allegedly Paid to Kill Story of Playboy Playmate’s Affair With Trump

Karen McDougal attends Playboy’s Super Saturday Night Party at Sagamore Hotel on February 6, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Playboy

It’s no secret that the National Enquirer has been a big Donald Trump ally throughout the presidential campaign. And apparently it’s even paying to not have stories that could be damaging to the presidential candidate appear elsewhere. The tabloid bought the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of her 2006 affair with Donald Trump but then never published it, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In August, the National Enquirer sealed a $150,000 contract with Karen McDougal, who was the 1998 Playmate of the Year and told friends she had a 10-month consensual relationship with Trump while he was married to Melania. McDougal apparently thought the tabloid would publish a story on the alleged affair but it never happened, apparently pulling what is known as a “catch and kill” in the tabloid business. According to a contract reviewed by the Journal, McDougal was forbidden from going with her story elsewhere.


American Media Inc. vehemently denied it had “paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump.” The company said the $150,000 contract wasn’t just for life rights to stories of any relationships she had with any married men but also for two years of fitness columns and magazine covers. Trump’s campaign said any claims that McDougal had an affair with Trump are “totally untrue.”

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan notes that the piece about the Enquirer is the latest example of a side of the media that has been all too often on display during the campaign:

Combine this with the debunked reporting by Fox News of a likely Clinton indictment after the election, and then add in the much-tweeted photo of CNN’s paid pundit Corey Lewandowski shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump’s campaign brass, labeled “teamwork,” and the conclusion is obvious: We’re ending this campaign deep in the journalistic gutter.

The worst of the media is on full display, as if someone had set out to show just how terrible we hacks could look in these last moments before Election Day.