Two months after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first accused The National Enquirer of attempting to extort him, parent company American Media Inc. is seeking to sell off the tabloid, the company said Wednesday in a statement.
According to the company, the board’s review of the company’s tabloid business “resulted in the decision to explore strategic options for its National Enquirer (US and UK editions), Globe and National Examiner brands, which will likely result in their sale in the near future.”
“We have been keenly focused on leveraging the popularity of our celebrity glossy, teen and active lifestyle brands while developing new and robust platforms including broadcast and audio programming, and a live events business, that now deliver significant revenue streams,” American Media president and CEO David Pecker said in a statement. “Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership.”
The statement came less than two hours after The Washington Post reported American Media was exploring sale options for all three titles. The Post reported that the David Pecker-led company was “actively” looking to sell off the belabored magazine because the hedge fund that oversees American Media is “disgusted” with the Enquirer‘s reporting techniques, three sources told the Post.
Bloomberg has previously identified Chatham Asset Management’s Anthony Melchiorre as “the money behind American Media.” Chatham has not yet responded to The Hollywood Reporter’s requests for comment.
Chatham, led by Melchiorre, is a $4 billion hedge fund that reportedly holds an 80 percent stake in American Media, which owns more than a dozen magazines, including Us Weekly, Men’s Journal, In Touch Weekly and Life & Style.
The National Enquirer has been embroiled in scandal ever since Bezos published a Medium post in February accusing the tabloid of extortion by attempting to leverage explicit photos of him in order to stop an investigation by an investigator hired by Bezos. “Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” he wrote.
In 2015, The National Enquirer was accused of a “catch-and-kill” strategy, whereby it paid money to obtain rights to a story reflecting negatively on Donald Trump only to kill the story. The tabloid was accused of using the same technique to spike a story in 2016 just ahead of the presidential election.
Privately held American Media filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 when it listed $1 billion in debt, far outweighing the value of its assets, and four years later it was acquired by Chatham, along with Omega Charitable Partnership.