The company that owns the National Enquirer, our country’s most reliable news source on who murdered Antonin Scalia and Hillary Clinton’s lesbian sex life, is in a ton of debt and about to sell the tabloid, according to the Washington Post.
The reasons for the fall of the Enquirer are twofold. The long-running tabloid is not immune to the media climate that is slowly cannibalizing every print publication and decimating local news in towns across the country. According to the Post, the number of papers sold per issue went from 516,000 in 2014 to 218,000 in December 2018.
Then, there’s American Media Inc. (AMI), the company that owns the Enquirer. You’ve probably heard of them, because their CEO, David Pecker, is a good friend of President Trump’s. Pecker has faced multiple accusations of buying stories about the president in order to bury them in an attempt to help his friend’s 2016 campaign. Last August, AMI agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating their actions as part of a non-prosecution deal.
Now, AMI’s board of directors wants to sell the Enquirer, “because they didn’t want to deal with hassles like this anymore,” a source told the Post. Fair enough.
AMI is also struggling financially. The company currently has $400 million in debt, which it tried to refinance earlier this year. In 2016, Pecker told the Toronto Star that the company was “very, very leveraged” and “on the brink.”
But the decision to sell apparently comes down to Anthony Melchiorre, an investor who controls the hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, which owns an 80 percent stake in AMI. Melchiorre apparently has had second thoughts about the Enquirer’s style of reporting.
“The Trump thing was an issue, and [Melchiorre] was really disgusted by the Bezos reporting,” a source told the Post.
“The president is buddies with Pecker and tries to help him, and Pecker does what he can to help the president,” the person added. “It can be embarrassing.”
AMI now says they’ll focus on the magazines they own, including Us Weekly and In Touch, rather than the tabloid business.
“Our board has been keenly focused on leveraging the popularity of our celebrity glossy, teen and active lifestyle brands while developing new and robust platforms that now deliver significant revenue streams,” AMI’s board said in a statement about the sale. “Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership.”