Politics

Leaked Trump Voicemails Hint at Relationship With Liberal Media

Personal voicemails allegedly left for Donald Trump were leaked on Friday. The messages, thought to be from around 2012, shed light on the candidate's relationships with prominent members of the media, professional athletes, and political operatives.

The messages, obtained by hackers and released by the website Gawker, appear to detail a stark, two-faced relationship between Trump and members of liberal media: one characterized by friendly off-camera chatter, and another by contentious interviews broadcast on national television.

The binary defines a conflict of interest elite media are often criticized of having with politicians.

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The messages appear to be from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Tamron Hall, among others including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ("Hey big guy, it's your favorite NFL quarterback calling"), boxing promoter Don King ("You're a Republicrat, that is so great for America"), and former Barack Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod, who thanked the businessman for a donation, Gawker reported.

Messages allegedly from Scarborough, Brzezinski, and Hall present a genuine, genial off-camera relationship with the politician. The voice thought to be Hall's thanks Trump for recommending a professional connection, while the "Morning Joe" hosts thank him for a charitable donation. Publicly, all three have devoted aggressive coverage to Trump's presidential campaign, conducting heated interviews with the candidate on multiple occasions.

In a deleted tweet about the messages (captured by Gawker) Scarborough defended himself for seeking money from a fellow NBC colleague. (Trump starred in "The Apprentice" at the time.)

Scarborough

Here's the message allegedly left by the "Morning Joe" hosts, transcribed by Gawker.

BRZEZINSKI: Hi, Donald. It’s Mika and Joe calling. Say hi, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Hey there, Donald. How you doing?

BRZEZINSKI: We’re just leaving you a message because we’re trying to get in touch with you, but you must be, like, on your jet or something. We’d love to talk to you, so call one of us. What’s your other number, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH: I’m at [REDACTED]. And the kids want to scream “Thank you,” to you, Donald. Say, “Thank you, Donald.”

CHILDREN: Thank you!

SCARBOROUGH: We are so, so grateful for everything, Donald, and we just want to call you and tell you how much it means to us.

BRZEZINSKI: It was amazing. Thank you, Donald. Hope to talk to you soon. Bye.

The voicemails come at a time when Trump has been criticized by fellow Republican contenders Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for presenting one image of himself to voters, while maintaining another behind closed doors. One outgrowth of those suspicions could be the cozy relationship he appears to maintain with mainstream media.

Morning Joe

Gawker was criticized for over-analyzing Trump's close relationship with media, since the group likely worked in the same building and could very well have maintained a friendly relationship. But concern about personal relationships bleeding over into the professional realm is not unfounded: in February, Brzezinski was criticized for throwing softball questions to Trump during a town hall event after audio recorded during a commercial break appeared to show her agreeing not to ask Trump questions about illegal immigration.

"You don’t want me to do the ones with deportation?” Brzezinski says in the recording. "That's right, nothing too hard, Mika," Trump is heard saying. Bzezinski has since said she was speaking to a producer.

Either way, Trump's relationship with media — contentious or friendly — has been a symbiotic one. The candidate's campaign has been propelled by non-stop media coverage — including from ATTN: — which in turn gives the candidate free airtime. That coverage, and the media writ large, have been criticized for "creating" Donald Trump — unsure how to cover his unconventional campaign style and unprecedented rise to frontrunner. The Huffington Post even pledged to cover him as entertainment, instead of politics, before backing off and covering Trump under politics once again. And by all indications, it's a relationship that will continue unabated.