August 6, 2018
Shortly after the feds raided the offices and hotel room of President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen on April 9, National Enquirer Publisher (and friend of the president) David Pecker made a calculated retreat, according to an August 2 report by The Daily Beast.
Since the start of his presidential campaign, Pecker’s tabloid had helped to engineer Trump’s political rise, by running stories (or not, in the case of Playboy model Karen McDougal) that would polish his image. However, although he reigned as a regular fixture on the cover of the Enquirer for several years, Trump hasn’t appeared on it since an issue dated early May. That high-profile shot was for a cover story on the various scandals swirling around … Cohen, The Daily Beast notes.
And in that same issue detailing Cohen’s dirty work—work in which the Enquirer, itself, played a key role—there was another story claiming that the Enquirer’s “lie detector examination” had absolved Trump of any Russia-related collusion.
Since then, The Daily Beast notes, “The tabloid’s approach to the saga has ranged from muted to silent. The most recent issue of the Enquirer, dated July 30, 2018, doesn’t feature a single item on Trump in the entire, 47-page edition—though the issue did have room for a story on how the late James Bond actor Roger Moore “SMELLED BAD!” due to ‘rampant flatulence.’”
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Pecker and the top brass of the supermarket scandal sheet made a conscious decision to pull back on their pro-Trump coverage, just as Pecker’s media empire found itself increasingly embroiled in Trump’s legal and public-relations woes.
A month after the Enquirer’s last Trump cover, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal authorities had subpoenaed Pecker and other executives at American Media, which publishes the tabloid. They sought records related to allegations that the company purchased the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of an affair with Trump, then killed the story for Trump’s benefit, a practice known as “catch and kill.” Prosecutors are exploring whether such an agreement may have constituted an illegal in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign by AMI.
The Daily Beast contends that “the dialing-back of Trump content may have come with a cost.” The tabloid lost about 4,700 paid subscriptions from January through June, about 6% of its total at the beginning of the year.
An AMI spokesperson acknowledged the downturn in an emailed statement to The Daily Beast. “AMI is not immune to the challenges facing the publishing industry, which is why we have continued to diversify and grow our revenue with new channels and acquisitions,” the spokesperson wrote.
The rep also dismissed any implication of its lack of Trump covers or coverage of late, saying, “Any decisions about our covers are driven by proprietary data on what our readers are most interested in and what is most likely [to] perform well at the newsstand, period.”
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