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All Peckered out: Supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer, as you’ve probably heard by now, is up for sale. Why? Well, here’s your executive summary:
Owner American Media Inc., run by Trump pal David Pecker, was pressured to shop the gossip sheet by hedge fund manager Anthony Melchiorre, who has an 80 percent stake in AMI, according to The Washington Post.
Melchiorre, a source tells the paper, grew “disgusted” with the Enquirer’s approach to “journalism” in the wake of what Amazon CEO (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos in February characterized as an extortion attempt surrounding purloined photos. If you haven’t already read Bezos’s blog post about his run-in with the tabloid, well, now’s a good time. It includes passages like this, from a rather descriptive email written by AMI Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard, as quoted by Bezos:
In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:
· A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.
· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.
And so on. Separately and just as notoriously, Pecker, AMI and the Enquirer are ensnared in a Trump-related scandal that’s still under investigation. From last December: “National Enquirer owner admits to ‘catch and kill’ payment to ex-Playmate” (subhead: “AMI told prosecutors it worked with Trump’s campaign to pay for and suppress story of a sexual affair to ‘prevent it from influencing’ US election”), via The Guardian. There's reportedly a safe at AMI headquarters that contains stories about Trump that Pecker & Co. bought the rights to (the “catch” part) and then buried (the “kill” part) to protect him during his presidential candidacy.
Not only is the Enquirer ensnared in scandals that are expensive to defend against, but it’s also not doing so great as a business. Per the Post, it “sold an average of 516,000 copies per issue in 2014, but that number fell to 218,000 in December, according to data compiled by the Alliance for Audited Media.” Back in 1997, The New York Times reported that the Enquirer was selling 2.2 million copies at the newsstand each week.
So who might buy the damn thing? Some suggestions have been bubbling up on Twitter, including: