The National Enquirer’s owners have made a deal to sell the tabloid, after sparking scandal with the controversial tactics they have used to suppress stories damaging to Donald Trump.
American Media – led by CEO David Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump’s – will sell the Enquirer and its two other tabloids to James Cohen, the owner of the Hudson News chain of airport newsstands, the companies said in a statement on Thursday.
The National Enquirer is a supermarket tabloid long known for its salacious stories about celebrities and politicians, and more recently for its owners cozy relationship with Trump.
American Media admitted it paid $150,000 to a former Playboy model to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.
The company paid off Karen McDougal for rights to her story and then never published it – a tactic known as “catch and kill” they have employed for embarrassing stories involving Trump and other favored celebrities.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute American Media in exchange for its cooperation in the investigation of the payment, which amounted to an illegal campaign contribution. Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme.
The purchase price was $100m for the Enquirer, the Globe and the National Examiner, the Washington Post reported.
“The sale of these brands shows their vitality in today’s newsstand marketplace,” Pecker said.
The company is buried in debt, and said the sale would reduce its debt to $355m.
The Enquirer was embroiled in another controversy when Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, accused its publisher of “extortion” for threatening to publish explicit photos and text messages with his mistress.
Bezos had hired a private security firm to investigate after the Enquirer published other text messages, and said they threatened to publish the new material unless he would make a public statement that the tabloid’s reporting was not politically motivated.