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Donald Trump is holding the New York Observer hostage.


The Observer, which is owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, endorsed Trump in the New York primary on April 19. To its credit, I guess, the paper acknowledged the conflict of interest in the lede. “Donald Trump is the father-in-law of the Observer’s publisher,” the endorsement begins. “That is not a reason to endorse him. Giving millions of disillusioned Americans a renewed sense of purpose and opportunity is.” Sure. 

The relationship between Trump and the Observer has been scrutinized for months. In July, its editorial board acknowledged that there was “no good way to cover Trump,” given the relationship between Kushner and the candidate, and the Observer has proven that point time and again over the last several months. In February, it published a 7,000-word article attacking New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had recently filed a $40 million lawsuit against Trump. And in April, the paper’s editor-in-chief Ken Kurson helped Donald Trump with his AIPAC speech. 

The fact that the Observer seemingly didn’t have a choice but to endorse Donald Trump only makes its endorsement more remarkable, in that it overextends in making the case that this isn’t all about family. It attacks “the nattering of the cognoscenti—the media elite, the professional political class and the people largely insulated or directly benefitting from the failures of the last seven years,” while also defending Trump’s populist appeal and skating over the fact that the Observer and Kushner are very much a part of that elite. The art for the endorsement is its only tasteful touch—a photograph of a grimy truck with “Trump 2016” spray-painted on the back.