The hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" say the White House threatened them with a form of blackmail.
"We got a call that, 'Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys," co-host Joe Scarborough said during Friday's show. "And they said, 'If you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story.'"
President Donald Trump is friends with David Pecker who is the publisher of the Enquirer. Scarborough, who is recently engaged to his co-host Mika Brzezinski, said he had "three people at the very top of the administration calling" him. He and Brzezinski told viewers their response was to go ahead and run the story.
This is not the first time Trump or his associates have been accused of planting tabloid stories.
During the presidential campaign, Trump's opponent Ted Cruz accused "Trump and his henchman" of planting a story about him having extramarital affairs, which Cruz has vehemently denied. Trump also denied having anything to do with it.
Trump responded to Scarborough in a tweet Friday morning, saying: "He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no!"
In a statement, the National Enquirer denied knowing about or having any involvement in "any discussions" between the hosts and the White House about the story.
The exchange between Scarborough and Trump came one day after Trump sent two widely condemned tweets targeting the hosts. The tweets came after a segment of Thursday's show that was critical of Trump.
Besides addressing the tweets on the show, Brzezinski and Scarborough also wrote an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Post responding to the tweets.