When faced with negative media coverage, Trump’s team turns to friendly outlets to plant stories

When faced with (largely self-inflicted) negative press, President Donald Trump’s team has repeatedly run to right-wing outlets -- such as Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting -- to plant White House-approved spin, lash out at his political enemies, and get more favorable coverage, overall.

Trump’s team considered feeding information about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian nationals to Circa News, thinking it “would be friendly to Trump”

Trump’s legal team tried to feed details about Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russian nationals to Circa, thinking that the outlet “would be friendly to Trump.” President Donald Trump’s legal team, according to The Washington Post, attempted to spin details of a previously undisclosed meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr. and multiple Russian nationals with ties to the Kremlin by offering details of the meeting to Sinclair’s Circa News, “an online news organization that the [legal] team thought would be friendly to Trump.” According to the Post, Trump’s “legal team planned to cast the June 2016 meeting as a potential setup by Democratic operatives hoping to entrap Trump Jr. and, by extension, the presumptive Republican nominee.” From the July 31 report:

On the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany last month, President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril.

[...]

The president’s outside legal team, led by Marc Kasowitz, had suggested that the details be given to Circa, an online news organization that the Kasowitz team thought would be friendly to Trump. Circa had inquired in previous days about the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The president’s legal team planned to cast the June 2016 meeting as a potential setup by Democratic operatives hoping to entrap Trump Jr. and, by extension, the presumptive Republican nominee, according to people familiar with discussions.

Kasowitz declined to comment for this article, as did a Circa spokesman. [The Washington Post, 7/31/17; Media Matters, 8/1/17]

Trump and his team have used “friendly” media outlets in an attempt to promote their spin, plant stories, lash out against their perceived enemies, and gain favorable coverage

Trump may have urged publication of a story pushing a conspiracy theory surrounding the death of a former DNC staffer later published on FoxNews.com. NPR reported that a lawsuit filed by Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler stated that, “the Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide” in July of 2016. According to a timeline published by The Washington Post, the president read a draft of the “discredited” story and “want[ed] it published.” Shortly after, the article appeared on FoxNews.com. [NPR, 8/1/17; The Washington Post, 8/1/17; FoxNews.com, 5/16/17; Media Matters, 8/1/17]

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough: “Top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us.” In an op-ed in The Washington Post, MSNBC Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough wrote that during the 2016 presidential campaign, “top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article" about Brzezinski and Scarborough unless they "begged the president to have the story spiked.” As The New Yorker noted, Trump and Enquirer publisher David Pecker “have been friends for decades … and Pecker acknowledges that his tabloids’ coverage of Trump has a personal dimension.” According to the op-ed, the hosts “ignored [the White House’s] desperate pleas.” From the June 30 Post op-ed:

The president’s unhealthy obsession with our show has been in the public record for months, and we are seldom surprised by his posting nasty tweets about us. During the campaign, the Republican nominee called Mika “neurotic” and promised to attack us personally after the campaign ended. 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. [The Washington Post, 6/30/17; The New Yorker, 7/3/17]

Politico: “Trump's campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage” in exchange for “more access to Trump and the campaign.” Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a White House senior adviser, told business leaders that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Trump campaign “struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage,” according to Politico. The outlet noted that in exchange, the Trump campaign gave Sinclair “more access to Trump and the campaign.” From the December 16 report:

Donald Trump's campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives Friday in Manhattan.

Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks.

In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 listeners — than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.

“It’s math,” Kushner said according to multiple attendees. [Politico, 12/16/16]

Alex Jones: Pro-Trump troll Mike Cernovich's sources are Trump's “sons, especially Donald Jr.”  From the May 2 edition of Genesis Communications Network's The Alex Jones Show:

ALEX JONES: I don't want to give sources out, obviously. But let's just say this. I know Mike Cernovich's sources. The government knows his sources, so it's not a secret to them. But it's obviously who's been retweeting him and saying he's a great guy, retweeting our stuff. There are people very close to the president who are for real -- hell, it's not a secret, it's his sons, especially Donald Jr. He's a total patriot. And there's a bunch of other people. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show​, 5/2/17]