They managed to elicit his appraisal of a recent walk on the Mall with Ivanka: “Beautiful. Great company. Beautiful scenery.”
That was it. Kushner smiled. He blushed. And he was not going to talk, despite Major Garrett's best effort to motion him toward the desk.
“I don't talk to the press,” Kushner told Forbes magazine in November, shortly after Donald Trump was elected president.
With very few exceptions, that is the policy of the president's son-in-law. Forbes billed its interview with Kushner as “the first time he has talked about the Trump campaign or his role in it,” and he appears not to have held a similar, on-the-record conversation with a journalist since — even as media interest intensifies in the wake of reports of federal investigators' scrutiny of his contacts with Russia.
Kushner was not always so shy, however. In fact, he was rather accessible in the mid- and late aughts — particularly to the New York Post — in a way that called to mind his future father-in-law.
Kushner became a public figure by purchasing the New York Observer in 2006, when he was just 25 years old. In its report on the deal, the New York Times introduced him to readers as a “son of a wealthy New Jersey developer who was sentenced to prison last year.” Charles Kushner had pleaded guilty in 2005 to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations.
“I love my father, but I have worked to develop a separate and distinct identity in different projects I have worked on,” Kushner told the Times, upon buying the Observer. “The only difference is that this is far more public.”
Kushner, who was still in law and business school at New York University, seemed okay with becoming more public. A week after the sale, he granted an interview to the New York Post in which he described his vision for his newspaper.
“In order to make the paper profitable, we have to increase the spending on editorial and come up with new and exciting ideas,” he said, adding that “the days of the New York Observer being a farm system for other publications are over.”
Four months later, Kushner took time out of a Hawaiian vacation to answer the New York Post's questions about the possible launch of a weekly newspaper in New Jersey.
In 2007, he picked up the phone when the New York Post called to ask why the Observer was late hitting newsstands for the second week in a row.
“We had a little bit of a problem last night at the plant,” he explained.
Also that year, Kushner participated in a 1,700-word Times feature called “The Education of a Publisher.” Among the personal tidbits he shared was this: “I don't have time to date. I have six jobs.”
Jared Kushner owns the New York Observer, but the youngster could use some advice on dealing with the press. Months back, Kushner, 25, shared a cab with Page Six and denied that the salmon-colored broadsheet would become a tabloid-size paper. A month later, the weekly became a tabloid. Kushner also harangued Page Six after we reported he was dating Ivanka Trump, claiming they were “just friends.” Yesterday,reported the lovebirds were kissing at Bowlmor Lanes. Jared, time to hire a flack.
Despite the tabloid lashing, Kushner continued to take calls from the New York Post and other publications for several years. He withdrew somewhat after marrying Ivanka Trump but remained willing to field questions about various business decisions at the Observer, which he sold after the election.
Since Donald Trump entered the White House race almost two years ago, however, Kushner has basically cut off the media entirely. His calculus seems to be that he stands to lose more by talking than he could gain.