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As the Owner of New York Observer, Jared Kushner Would Kill Negative Stories About His Friends
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7 Aug 2018 04:31 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jared Kushner (Image source: Public Domain)

 

Apparently the in-law apple doesn't fall far from the tree. While Jared Kushner isn't a Trump by blood, as he's married to the president's daughter Ivanka Trump, he seems to be very like-minded. When he owned the New York Observer, he would order employees to take down stories that were critical of his friends. Perhaps he considered them to be "fake news."

 

Kushner, 37, is a real estate developer like his father-in-law, as well as an investor and newspaper publisher. He's currently the senior advisor to the president. He and Ivanka married in 2009 and have three children. 

In 2006 he bought the New York Observer, a weekly newspaper, with the money he earned in college closing deals on residential buildings. He had no prior experience in journalism. He stepped down from his role with the paper when he took a position in his father-in-law's administration and transferred ownership to a family trust, no longer having a role in editorial matters.

 

BuzzFeed News has received emails stating that in 2012 Kushner went around to the editorial leaders at the Observer and ordered some articles to be removed from the website. 

One story he dictated the removal of was about a 2010 settlement between Andrew Cuomo, who at the time was New York attorney general, and the real estate firm Vantage Properties. The story included allegations that the real estate firm had illegally forced tenants out of their apartments in order to raise the rent.

 

He also ordered the removal of another story from 2010. This one was about Neil Rubler, Vantage's top executive. The URL for the story indicates that Rubler had been included on a "10 worst landlords" list. 

Another story that was ordered to be taken down was about NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a friend of Kushner's. This 2012 story focused on the Commissioner buying a $6.75 million apartment in New York. In 2016 he had high praise for Kushner, who helped the NBA find space for a retail store.

 

Austin Smith was a software employee with the Observer Media Group, working as an outside consultant. He admitted to being asked to remove the articles and to following up on the requests. He has written about it on a Hacker News forum. 

"That Kushner, a newspaper owner of all people, would participate in an administration that labels news media the enemy of the people, is an affront to the very notion of the freedom of the press and an utter betrayal of those who worked hard and in good faith for him at the Observer," he told BuzzFeed News.

 

A former editor of the Observer, Elizabeth Spiers, has been critical of her former boss since he's been i politics. She claims to have not been aware that he was ordering some negative stories to be removed. 

"If I had known about it, Jared and I would have had a big problem," she said. "Jared's such a coward. Went directly to Austin because he knew I wouldn't do it,." She added Smith had no choice but to comply with the request since he was not an editorial employee.

 

Aaron Gell, Spiers' deputy editor and her successor, also was not aware that Kushner was going behind him and dictating that articles be removed, despite the practice continuing under his leadership as well. 

"When Jared announced I was out, he told me, 'I just needed someone I could trust," recalls Gell. "The more I learn about how he wanted to run the paper, the more I've been able to take that as a compliment."

 

BuzzFeed knows what it's talking about with regards to the practice of deleting stories. They deleted more than 1000 articles in 2015, with three of them being removed after an editorial employee took a complaint from a business-side employee who'd worked with an advertiser, and they received much criticism for their actions.

Vanity Fair has also reported that Kushner once ordered a "hit piece" on a rival real estate executive, Richard Mack, when he was running the newspaper.

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