Jared Kushner had barely survived a fight to save his family's real estate empire.
Taking charge of the business after his father went to prison, Kushner, 25 at the time, paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the nation's most expensive office building. Then the market went south, the debts piled up, and Kushner spent years pushing banks to renegotiate the loans.
But after one disgruntled lender had tried to block him, Kushner had an unusual weapon at his disposal: He owned a newspaper.
Kushner, who had purchased the New York Observer in 2006, walked into his editor's office and suggested a story exposing potentially embarrassing details about the uncooperative...