Commentary

How Ted Cruz's Dad Ended A Presidency (No, Not That One)

For a presidency that began with the clandestine weaponization of digital media, it’s fitting, and maybe a bit ironic, that it is ending with light shed by the most traditional media: good, old-fashioned gumshoe reporting, books, and yes, even a tape recorder. 

But among the many damaging revelations to come out of this week’s cascade of analog exposes is one from the President’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s book Disloyal, which alleges how his client -- then a Republican candidate -- dispatched his opponents with the help of sensationalized hit jobs published by another analog medium, The National Enquirer.

The relationship between the candidate, the Enquirer and its publisher, former American Media CEO David Pecker, has already been well-documented -- including its catch-and-release role in squashing tawdry actual stories that would have damaged his Presidential bid. (One of those led to the conviction of Cohen on the violation of U.S. campaign finance laws, although his co-conspirator “Individual 1,” was never indicted.

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That’s okay, because the revelations in Cohen’s book may help settle matters, especially the fact that the candidate weaponized one of the largest-circulation tabloid magazines to spread disinformation attacking his opposition in order for him to grab the Republican nomination.

“As each candidate was moving up [in the polls], let’s say Marco Rubio, David Pecker would reach out to me and he would give me a list of things that he was intending to do in order to squash Ted Cruz’s or Marco Rubio’s rise. Whoever was rising in the poll. That was who became the person we needed to knock out of the race,” Cohen alleged during an interview previewing his book with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

“With Marco Rubio, you may remember, there were photos of him in a swimming pool, he had a drug problem, and all sorts of other -- we will call them ‘salacious rumors’ -- and every time they would be provided to me by David Pecker, I would immediately take them into Mr. Trump’s office,” Cohen continued, adding: "We would sit down. We would talk about it. He would approve it. Then I would contact David. Next thing you know, two days later, on the front cover, Marco Rubio has a drug problem."

"That is a remarkable campaign contribution to the Donald Trump for President campaign," Maddow remarked, before Cohen went on to assert that there are other news media outlets today that "have become state-run television, as well as newspapers. That if Donald Trump sneezes, it’s the greatest sneeze in the history of the world… front page news story… breaking news."

Cohen’s assessment that his former boss’s leap from using a tabloid like The National Enquirer as a weapon against his opponents to one where he is using national network TV news and major national newspapers that way shouldn’t be surprising, but the level of collaboration and coordination between them should be.

In fact, Fox News Channel prime-time host Sean Hannity has come under fire once again shilling for the President’s campaign, after the campaign sent a fund-raising email offering signed copies of his new book in exchange for campaign donations, which is a violation of Fox News’ publicly stated policy prohibiting its hosts from participating in political campaigns.

But Cohen’s depiction of the then-candidate micro-managing how The National Enquirer fabricated hit jobs on his opponent -- especially one cover story alleging that Ted Cruz’s dad, Rafael Cruz, played a role in assassinating President John F. Kennedy -- demonstrates the incestuous, and insidious, nature between his boss and the media that collaborated with him. 

The candidate cited the tabloid hit job that he personally orchestrated repeatedly on Fox News, as well as during the Republican presidential debates.

To be sure, there are far worse revelations about the candidate/President that have come to light because of the books being released this week and last, especially Bob Woodward’s Rage, which The Washington Post journalist is releasing along with indelible tape recordings from 18 one-on-one interviews the President gave to him, so you can hear it in his own words, making it difficult for him to dismiss it as “fake news.” 

It’s fitting that analog media like books and newspapers may be the undoing of this Presidency, given the way Russia and Cambridge Analytica utilized sophisticated, illicit methods to turn our own digital media into a weapon against us.

And most ironic of all, that the same medium that brought down President Richard Nixon -- a tape recorder -- is the one that may play a role ending this presidency.

11 comments about "How Ted Cruz's Dad Ended A Presidency (No, Not That One)".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 10, 2020 at 9:29 a.m.

    Good one, Joe. I have believed for some time that Trump---knowingly or, more likely, unknowingly----is following large parts of the Nixon playbook.Still, I must say that I'm surprised that he gave so much to Woodward, presumably because he believed that he was such a good con man that he might sway Woodward into writing a flattering book. It's almost like Adolf sending the Brits shiploads of bombs during WW2 so they could bomb Berlin into rubble. Amazing.

  2. Mark Sutton from NHR replied, September 10, 2020 at 12:05 p.m.

    Likening Preisdent Trump to Hitler is pretty low.

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, September 10, 2020 at 12:10 p.m.

    @Mark Sutton: Agree. If I were Hitler -- or his desendants -- I'd be offended by that comparison too.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 10, 2020 at 12:32 p.m.

    Mark, obviously you missed my point. It was about someone in power in a bad situation---like Hitler was in the mid 1940s---going out of his way to give ammo to the opposition. As for Hitler relative to Trump, now that I think of it, there are similarities---but, at the same time, differences. I'll let it rest at that---for now.

  5. Mark Sutton from NHR replied, September 10, 2020 at 4:34 p.m.

    Weren't George W Bush and Dick Cheney called Hitler as well?

    Then again, John McCain and Mitt Romney were called Hitler too.

    Sort of cheapsns the comparison when any Republican running for President will be labeled Hitler.

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 10, 2020 at 5:06 p.m.

    I agree with you, Matt, name calling of the sort you allude to is deplorable, no matter what party candidate---or incumbent---is running for office. I wish that more of our politicians felt like you do on this subject--it would be better for everyone. Don't you agree?

  7. John Grono from GAP Research replied, September 10, 2020 at 6:54 p.m.

    Phew!   Just as well the POTUS doesn't do any name-calling, as that would demean the status of the office.

  8. David Mattson from Not Ordinary Media, September 11, 2020 at 11:40 a.m.

    Ed - I love your analogies.

  9. Joe Shain from Allscope Direct replied, September 12, 2020 at 11:40 a.m.

    Stop comparing Trump to Hitler in any context .
    Its an insult to the Jews whose families were exterminated.
    You can hate your President as much as you want but keep it in context to reality please . Thx 

  10. Kenneth Fadner from MediaPost replied, September 12, 2020 at 1:17 p.m.

    I don't think it's fair to say Ed made the comparison he's being accused of. He used an analogy to say Trump talking to Woodward was foolish.

  11. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 12, 2020 at 5:31 p.m.

    Thanks, Ken, and as I pointed out, it was about shooting one's self in the foot as it were, not Adolf vs. Trump. However, in these hopelessly polarized times almost anything one says about the current POTUS is going to elicit far more heat from all sides than it's worth. In my youth, I would have responded, perhaps too strongly,  but now that I'm older ---and wiser?----I will simply keep my cool and move on to the next subject. Hopefully, that will be about media.

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