Republican front-runner Donald Trump has been widely vilified by the establishment media over the tabloid hit piece that alleges that Ted Cruz had affairs with five women. The candidate himself shrilly blamed Trump and his “henchmen” for the article, a sign that the billionaire iconoclast is deeply inside Ted’s head and running wild there. But according to some, the National Enquirer story may be the work of allies of the fallen idol Marco Rubio who dropped out of the race after being crushed in the Florida primary.

The Daily Beast has a story that pokes a big hole in the media and Cruz’s rush to judgement that Trump did it. The piece is entitled “Ted Cruz ‘Affair’ Rumors Peddled By Marco Rubio’s Allies”:

Cruz fired back on Friday, charging that the piece was baseless and that the Enquirer was taking its marching orders straight from “Donald Trump and his henchmen.”

The truth behind the rumor-mongering, however, is a little more complex. A half-dozen GOP operatives and media figures tell The Daily Beast that Cruz’s opponents have been pushing charges of adultery for at least six months now—and that allies of former GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio were involved in spreading the smears.

For months and months, anti-Cruz operatives have pitched a variety of #CruzSexScandal stories to a host of prominent national publications, according to Republican operatives and media figures. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, Politico, and ABC News—reporters at all those outlets heard some version of the Cruz-is-cheating story. None of them decided to run with rumors. Those publications’ representatives all declined to provide on-the-record comments when The Daily Beast reached out for this article.

Breitbart News, the notoriously Trump-friendly conservative outlet, was also pitched the story of Cruz’s extramarital affairs, according to a source close to the publication. That source said an operative allied with Marco Rubio—but not associated with his official campaign—showed the publication a compilation video of Cruz and a woman other than his wife coming out of the Capitol Grille restaurant and a hotel on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But the outlet opted not to report on the video, which demonstrated no direct evidence of an affair.

“We got it from a Rubio ally,” said the source. “It was too thin, so [Breitbart’s Washington political editor Matt Boyle] decided not to run it. There was no way to verify the claims.”

A Rubio spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Trump has denied any involvement in the National Enquirer piece and the mercenary media that is working hand in hand with the GOP establishment to sink his campaign has yet to offer a smidgen of proof for their linkage of the hit piece to him. Nor has Cruz – who has seamlessly incorporated the victim routine into his tent preacher shtick – backed up his blaming of his opponent with any facts. If the story that it indeed was Team Rubio pushing the smears is substantiated then both Cruz and the media will owe Trump an apology.

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