Responding to news that American Media Inc. chairman David Pecker took a deal exchanging information on his relationship with the president for immunity, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow outlined the many ways the tabloid boss helped Donald Trump win the presidency.
Shortly after news about Pecker's immunity deal broke, the Associated Press reported that the AMI-published National Enquirer kept a safe full of incriminating information on Trump – but as Maddow revealed through a series of covers of the magazine, the company's association with the president seems to be on full display when viewed in hindsight.
"During the presidential campaign, it became desperately unsubtle," the host said. "It became impossible not to notice. You could not buy a quart of milk without being confronted with the un-subtlety of this relationship."
One is able to "watch the progression of Donald Trump's quest for the presidency over the course of the covers of the National Enquirer," Maddow noted.
When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was the only candidate standing against Trump during the 2016 GOP presidential primary, for instance, the Enquirer ran a bombastic cover story alleging the senator's father was associated with the murder of JFK.
"This was not an unwelcome intrusion into the campaign by this publication," the host said. "The candidate himself was totally on board with this."
She then played a clip of Trump not only promoting the Cruz-JFK murder conspiracy theory but also of him praising the Enquirer and saying it deserved a Pulitzer for its reporting.
As Maddow noted, the pro-Trump coverage was amped up after the candidate won the GOP primary — this time focused on his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Enquirer covers the host showed from the 2016 general election included claims that Clinton was a lesbian, had paid "hush money" to "hookers" and was associated with the mafia.
With news that Pecker has flipped on his former ally, Maddow noted that that pattern of reporting is by no means coincidental.
"David Pecker is not a random or peripheral figure in the president's life," she said. "This is probably the president's greatest ally in building his public image over the last couple of decades. This is the guy, the company that specifically has managed the president's public image, in part by aggressively managing secrets that Trump believed would be most damaging to him if they were publicly exposed."
"And now that is who is talking to federal prosecutors," Maddow concluded.
Watch below, via MSNBC: