American Media Tries to Sell the National Enquirer Amid Controversy

CEO David Pecker said its tabloids can be 'best exploited' under new owners

David Pecker wants American Media to be able to focus on growing its other media brands. Getty Images

The National Enquirer could soon have a new owner.

American Media, LLC, is exploring a sale of several of its titles, including the Enquirer (both US and UK editions), Globe and National Examiner brands, the media company’s board announced Wednesday.

The news comes as the company has been swept up in its own slew of negative headline scandals, after Amazon founder and owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, accused execs of attempted extortion and blackmail. Bezos specifically named CEO of American Media, David Pecker, in his lengthy write up—in fact, the post was titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker”—which alleged that American Media threatened to release damaging text messages from an extramarital relationship unless he agreed to cooperate.

American Media’s board said at the time that it would launch an investigation into Bezos’ accusations, but stood by its reporting.

The National Enquirer’s seedy tactics, and moreover American Media’s, were also put on display last summer when it became the topic of conversation over its “catch and kill” methods (in which the rights to a story are bought and killed). Pecker was reportedly given immunity in the Michael Cohen investigation, who pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws after he helped arranged a payment to a former Playboy model.

The decision to explore a sale of the tabloids comes after the company has been “keenly focused” on growing its other brands, Pecker said in a statement. The company also publishes Us Weekly, Star, OK!, In Touch and Life & Style.

“Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership,” Pecker said.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.