According to a deep dive into how Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner keep getting flattering "puff pieces" written about them in major media outlets, despite multiple financial scandals, the Daily Beast reports the daughter of President Donald Trump has, over the years, become an expert at working over editors and publishers with tears or threats to get her way.
The Beast's Hannah Seligson reveals that reporters who have written about the couple, who now serve as unpaid White House advisers, have come to learn that anything that hints of criticism will face quick pushback -- both directly and indirectly.
"On August 16, 2016, just a few weeks after his father-in-law, Donald J. Trump, had clinched the Republican nomination for president, Esquire magazine ran a story entitled 'Jared Kushner’s Second Act.' It was written by veteran journalist Vicky Ward and exposed a number of less-than-flattering details about the then 35-year-old head of his family’s real estate firm, Kushner Companies," Seligson writes before adding that Ivanka immediately went up the chain of command to get the story pulled.
"She did what any rich, New York City media-connected, powerful spouse would do—and then took it up a couple of notches: Ivanka, according to Ward, called Esquire’s editor-in-chief at the time, Jay Fielden, and literally started crying, pleading with him to take down the story," she wrote. "Firing on all cylinders, Ivanka also texted Ward and said she did not recognize her husband in the Esquire piece. Fielden, Ward told me, instantly saw through Ivanka’s 'crocodile tears.' Jared and Ivanka’s side leveled against Ward for falsifying the story. But the piece remained online and was published in the October print issue; no substantive changes or retractions were made to Ward’s reporting."
As Ward points out, this was not a one-off performance.
“Every reporter knows they will be on the phone to Rupert Murdoch. Their guiding credo is PR above everything else. Ivanka thinks she is brilliant at public relations,” explained Ward.
"Ivanka doesn’t blast the press as the enemy of the people, like her father does. Rather, she sees the news media as her personal enrichment and image-enhancement tool—which was, for many years, very much the case when she was a socialite living on the Upper East Side, fawned over by the lifestyle and fashion press," Seligson writes. "One editor who has worked for three leading national publications told me that she thought that Ivanka is the hardest Washington beat to cover. 'With Donald, it’s all out there. By contrast, Ivanka is secretive, cryptic, controlled, and poised,' the editor said speaking on the condition of anonymity."
The report goes on to note that Ivanka, in her position in the White Houe, hired a PR flack to build up her brand and keep reporters in line when they write anything disparaging about her or her husband.
"Early in 2017, shortly after getting themselves installed in senior Trump administration roles, she and Jared brought on their own PR flack, Josh Raffel, to serve in the West Wing’s communications operations. Raffel, who was a White House employee paid with taxpayer dollars, spent countless hours on the phone with reporters, including myself, defending the couple," Seligson writes.
“There are many White House reporters who are afraid to challenge her [Ivanka] and hold her accountable, because she and Jared are their entry into deeper relationships in the administration. I’ve talked to a least half a dozen reporters who have told me this,” a public affairs professional told the author.
"There’s no mystery here: Ivanka must win, or at least try to win, every piece, every snub, and every news cycle," Seligson adds, "One way to look at Ivanka and her relationship with the press is that she is just another chapter in what is becoming the prevailing storyline of this era in American history: the protected status afforded to white, wealthy, socially connected, and media-savvy titans of business and culture. Something that has always stuck with me is an off-hand comment an editor made to me when I asked why there were so many roadblocks to covering Ivanka. The editor responded that many in the media see her as one of their own," she added.
You can read more here.