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The Sunday Read: ‘What I Saw Working at The National Enquirer During Donald Trump’s Rise’

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 14 April 2024

⏱️ 43 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


At the center of the criminal case against former President Donald Trump in Manhattan is the accusation that Trump took part in a scheme to turn The National Enquirer and its sister publications into an arm of his 2016 presidential campaign. The documents detailed three “hush money” payments made to a series of individuals to guarantee their silence about potentially damaging stories in the months before the election. Because this was done with the goal of helping his election chances, the case implied, these payments amounted to a form of illegal, undisclosed campaign spending. And because Trump created paperwork to make the payments seem like regular legal expenses, that amounted to a criminal effort at a coverup, argued Alvin Bragg, the district attorney of Manhattan. Trump has denied the charges against him. For Lachlan Cartwright, reading the indictment was like stepping through the looking glass, because it described a three-year period in his own professional life, one that he has come to deeply regret. Now, as a former president faces a criminal trial for the first time in American history, Cartwright is forced to grapple with what really happened at The Enquirer in those years — and whether and how he can ever set things right.

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My name is Lockland Cartwright. I'm a special correspondent for the Hollywood


reporter and a contributor to the New York Times magazine. This week's Sunday Reed is a deeply personal story to me.


But it also, strangely enough, centers around the New York criminal trial of former president Donald Trump.


In that case, the Manhattan District Attorney


Elvin Bragg is prosecuting Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records.


The indictments alleged that he made hush money payments to ensure the silence of individuals


with damaging information on him, just months before the 2016 election.


People like Dino Sejudan, a former Trump World Tower Dorman who claimed that Trump had a love child


with one of the building's employees.


And Karen McDougal, with whom Trump supposedly had an extramarital affair.


They received 30 and 150,000 dollars respectively. But the key here is that the payments to these people were facilitated by American media,


the tabloid news organization and parent company of the National Inquirer.


Because the Inquirer own the rights to their stories, stories that would have been


negative press against Trump and chose not to publish them, but rather bury


them, meant that they were essentially being purchased off the market on his behalf.


And so the reason why this is personal for me is because I witness all of this.


At the time I was the executive editor of the Inquirer.


This story is my insiders account of the behind the scenes at American media and how it turned itself into a


criminal enterprise to protect the rich and powerful. I witnessed how the inquire became part of the Trump campaign, not only


suppressing stories to help him but also running negative stories about Trump's




No one else has ever been able to tell this story before


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