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VICELAND

What You Should Know About the Mysterious Trump 'Elevator Tape'

No one knows if it exists, but everyone wants to see it.

by VICE Staff
Oct 15 2018, 9:26pm

It might seem weird that Tom Arnold is searching for never-before-seen recordings of the president doing horrible things, but no, actually it is normal and also a show on VICELAND. This Tuesday’s episode is about the mysterious “elevator tape.” What’s the elevator tape? That and exactly three more of your questions are answered below:

Q:WHAT’S THE ELEVATOR TAPE?

A: So the rumor here is that there’s footage of Donald Trump doing something in a Trump Tower elevator. No one knows (or at least has printed on the record) what is on this tape or even if it exists. It wasn’t until this May that a mainstream publication even mentioned it, when the Daily Beast ran an article that touched on it but was mostly about “catch and kill.”

Q: WHAT’S CATCH AND KILL?

Catch and kill refers to the process by which a publication buys the rights to a story only to bury it, usually as a favor to someone. We’ve heard about this a lot in relationship to Trump’s alleged affairs. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, allegedly signed a “life story rights agreement” with the National Enquirer for a piece about her alleged nine-month affair with Trump—giving the tabloid exclusive ownership of the account. The story never came out through the Enquirer though—it was “caught” and effectively “killed” (well, at least until McDougal told her story anyway). The catch being that David Pecker, publisher of the Enquirer's parent company, American Media, and Trump are close old friends and associates. Another close friend of Donald Trump’s? Harvey Levin, founder and boss of TMZ.

Q: WHAT DOES TMZ HAVE TO DO WITH ALL THIS?

A: According to the Daily Beast, in the wake of the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October 2016, the TMZ tip line received an email from a trademark and copyright lawyer in Los Angeles named Melissa K. Dagodag, who reportedly claimed to represent a client who had another “bombshell tape” of Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower. Allegedly, Levin moved quickly to get company approval to buy this tape he had yet to see and arranged to meet Dagodag that same night to view the tape. But something happened and Dagodag and her rumored tape disappeared. TMZ’s head of legal affairs, Jason Beckerman, said that the next morning Dagodag told them the tape was no longer for sale, insinuating it had been bought by someone else. But Levin apparently just told staffers that Dagodag had failed to show at the meeting and that they “needed to drop it.” According to staffers, he also told them that he called Trump’s camp to alert them of the video and they claimed there were no cameras in the Trump Tower elevators.

Q: SO DOES THE TAPE EVEN EXIST?

A: We don’t know. Some people have implicated David Pecker in all this—the publisher of AMI and the National Enquirer. A former AMI spokesman named Stu Zakim told CNN, “AMI has often paid for stories to take them off the market—i.e., no one else can print it—to protect David's friends. Trump is one of his close friends, so take the leap." AMI, for its part, has vehemently denied these allegations.

Dylan Howard, the chief content officer for AMI, talked about the allegations on his podcast, saying that many journalists have called him to ask about the rumor that “somebody paid $20 million to take this supposed tape off the market.” But he was resolute that even if a tape of Trump in an elevator existed―and he doubts that it does―it was not AMI that bought it.

Anyway, watch The Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold on Tuesday for more.