Editorial brass at the National Enquirer went too far when they exposed that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was cheating on his wife, MacKenzie Bezos. The “Pecker pic” saga, along with the publication’s alleged affinity for Donald Trump, reportedly “disgusted” the powers-that-be at American Media Inc. (AMI) to the point that they moved to put the tabloid up for sale.
According to the Washington Post, the Amazon founder’s sexting drama, along with federal prosecutorial investigations, served as the catalysts for the parent company’s decision to throw up their hands on the racy publication.
Hedge fund manager Anthony Melchiorre was reportedly key to the sale talks. His Chatham Asset Management fund holds an 80 percent stake in AMI.
While Melchiorre complained in the past that AMI was so leveraged that it constantly sat on the brink of ruin, a barrage of scandals pushed him over the edge. For instance: AMI allegedly paid $150,000 in hush money to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump before he became president.
The Washington Post reported that AMI’s board began exploring a sale months before the National Enquirer dragged the Amazon boss into the tabloids:
“In August, just as AMI and two of its top officers were finalizing a non-prosecution agreement with federal investigators, the company’s board of directors started looking for ways to unload the tabloid business ‘because they didn’t want to deal with hassles like this anymore,’ another person said.”
AMI might also unload its Us Weekly and In Touch magazines.
In a draft release of AMI’s sale announcement included in the report, AMI’s CEO David Pecker wrote:
“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. Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership.”
There is no love lost between Trump and The Washington Post, against which the president frequently rails during his “fake news tirades.”
According to the Post, Trump had a politically-motivated, cozy relationship with the National Enquirer. That was a problem for Melchiorre.
Melchiorre “had become intensely uncomfortable with their investment in a tabloid that was involved in efforts to support the president’s administration and reelection bid.”
That’s interesting considering the Bezos-owned Washington Post itself has a more-than-cozy relationship with the Amazon CEO.
Federal prosecutors chose not to pursue charges against AMI after it agreed to cooperate with them in September. After dodging that bullet, National Enquirer editors pulled the trigger on the Bezos affair hit piece.
An anonymous source told the reporters that this, along with Pecker’s connection to Trump, was the final straw:
“The Trump thing was an issue, and [Melchiorre] was really disgusted by the Bezos reporting,” the person said.
As if they were gluttons for punishment, editorial team members ran the exposé of Bezos’s affair with Lauren Sanchez. Then the tabloid tried to blackmail Bezos, the billionaire alleged.
That backfired to a staggering degree.
CCN.com reported AMI had promised Bezos it would not publish “d*ck pics” of him if he agreed to certain conditions. This included issuing a statement claiming that AMI’s actions were not politically motivated.
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos had already filed for divorce. Sanchez filed this week.