The surreal media campaign against the reporter who broke the Donald Trump 'rape' story

Donald Trump
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The one criticism you can make of The Daily Beast's big story this week about Donald Trump — in which the site reported that Trump's ex-wife, Ivana, once accused The Donald of "rape" in a legal deposition — is that it takes Trump's candidacy too seriously, putting him in a category of candidates who actually have to be vetted. But there's no denying the fact that he's leading the GOP primary polls, which means his past life is fair game.

So it has been downright bizarre to see the story dismissed in some very high-profile quarters of the media, with outlets as diverse as Fox News and MSNBC expressing deep skepticism about whether the substance of the story is even relevant. Megyn Kelly at Fox News, for example, grilled reporter Tim Mak on just that question, noting that the story, which she said read like a "hit piece," is decades old. She also asserted that "divorce proceedings are notoriously ugly."

Not to be outdone, the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, all but kicked Mak off their set on Wednesday morning. "Okay, you guys let me know when you uncover something new," Brzezinski huffed. A panelist said the report was "arcane." In the most surreal bit, Scarborough went off on a tangent about how reports like this keep "successful" people with "colorful lives" from running for office. "They know that a nasty thing that an ex-wife said in a moment of anger 20, 25 years ago will be dug up, brought out, put into articles, and it reads horribly," he said.

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Of course it reads horribly — the allegation is horrible. And of course it's relevant that a leading presidential candidate was accused of rape, no matter how long ago the accusation was made, no matter who made the accusation, and no matter if the accusation was withdrawn. But it seems we've entered a new phase of the Donald Trump circus, in which even mainstream media outlets have been drawn into his funhouse mirror reality.

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