FRESH AIR: The stories of the hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to silence them about their affairs with Donald Trump were first reported in The Wall Street Journal by my guest, Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld. Last year, their “Hush Money” series won a Pulitzer Prize. Palazzolo and Rothfeld have expanded on that reporting in a new book called “The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers And Porn Stars Who Created The 45th President.” The hush money payments were made on behalf of Donald Trump with Trump’s knowledge during the 2016 presidential campaign. The National Enquirer bought McDougal’s story with the purpose of preventing it from ever being published and preventing her from talking to anyone else in the media – catch and kill. The payout to silence Stormy Daniels was made by Michael Cohen, who was then Trump’s personal attorney and is now in prison. In telling the story of the hush money Palazzolo and Rothfeld report on the transactional relationship that Trump developed with David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, the lengths to which Michael Cohen was willing to go to please Trump and how tabloids like the National Enquirer pay for stories by people who have dirt on celebrities.
Joe Palazzolo, Michael Rothfeld, welcome to FRESH AIR. So your book opens in August of 2015, just a couple of months after Trump announces his run for the presidency. And so the book opens at a meeting with Trump and David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer. And Trump wanted to know what Pecker could do to help with the campaign. How had they developed the kind of relationship where Donald Trump could have actually asked for such a favor? MORE
FRESH AIR: The American South in the post-Reconstruction era was a land of broken promises and brutal oppression for African Americans, as white leaders stripped former slaves of many of the civil and voting rights they’d won after the Civil War. But in the 1890s, the port city of Wilmington, N.C., was an exception. It had a thriving black middle class, a large black electorate and a local government that included black aldermen, police officers and magistrates.That ended in 1898 with a bloody campaign of violence and intimidation by white supremacists, which our guest journalist David Zucchino calls America’s first and only armed overthrow of a legally elected government. Zucchino chronicles the events in a new book called “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup Of 1898 And The Rise Of White Supremacy.” David Zucchino is a contributing writer for The New York Times. He’s covered war and civil conflicts in more than three dozen countries and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from apartheid South Africa. MORE