Posts tagged with "National Enquirer"

Under attack, National Enquirer is put up for sale

April 12, 2019

The National Enquirer—the supermarket tabloid that in February allegedly extorted Jeff Bezos about his extramarital activities and, during the 2016 campaign, “exposed” then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s “secret health crisis”—is up for sale, according to an April 10 report by The New York Times.

Owned by American Media and helmed by David Pecker—a longtime pal of Donald Trump’s who used the scandal sheet to run a smear campaign against Clinton during the 2016 elections—the Enquirer is likely to have a buyer in a matter of days, the Times said.

The most likely prospect is rumored to be billionaire investor Ronald W. Burkle, a supermarket magnate with ties to President Bill Clinton, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations. Such a move would turn the political tables on President Trump.

In addition to his offensive strikes against Amazon CEO Bezos (who also owns The Washington Post, one of the president’s “fake media foes”) and Hillary Clinton; Pecker is said to have sealed a deal to buy a story from Karen McDougal—a Playboy model who said she had an affair with the president.

The company acquired McDougal’s story for $150,000 and never published it, following a practice known in the tabloid business as “catch-and-kill.” Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York gave Mr. Pecker an immunity deal during an investigation of the arrangement.

Prosecutors identified the $150,000 payment to McDougal as a political contribution made in violation of campaign finance law, the Times reported. Under a non-prosecution deal, American Media affirmed that it had made the payment to “influence the election.”

That agreement, signed in September, stipulated that American Media “shall commit no crimes whatsoever” for three years, and that if it did, the company “shall thereafter be subject to prosecution for any federal criminal violation of which this office has knowledge.”

The deal has put the company in a difficult position, the Times said—pointing out that federal prosecutors now have have started investigating the blackmail claims by Bezos.

Indeed, the principal owner of American Media, the hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, led by Anthony Melchiorre, pushed Pecker to sell the tabloid after it found itself in the cross hairs of the federal investigation and at the receiving end of Bezos’ wrath.

Melchiorre no longer saw an upside in being associated with The Enquirer, the people familiar with the matter said, and the tabloid’s financial losses provided further motivation for a sale.

Research contact: @nytimes

Enquiring minds want to know: Where’s the Trump coverage?

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 Enquireritself, played a key role—there was another story claiming that the Enquirer’slie 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.”

Research contact: lachlan.markay@thedailybeast.com