Tabloid titan and Donald Trump ally David Pecker has stepped down from the helm at National Enquirer parent company American Media. According to the New York Times, the magazine publisher is merging with a Georgia-based logistics company owned by the same hedge fund as American Media to form A360Media. Pecker, who’ll now be an “executive advisor” at the merged company, is being replaced by former American Media executive VP Chris Scardino.
It’s been an eventful few years at American Media. The company was investigated by federal prosecutors after its scheme to buy and then kill Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair with then-candidate Trump. As part of a nonprosecution deal, Pecker admitted to making the deal to help Trump’s chances of being elected.
Around the same time, Pecker also courted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an attempt to strike a business deal in Saudi Arabia. Shortly after American Media published a glossy magazine in the crown prince’s honor, Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Pecker was also accused by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos of being involved in an “extortion and blackmail” scheme that involved threats to publish “below the belt” photos of the billionaire. Last spring American Media offloaded the National Enquirer, selling it to Hudson News heir James Cohen; the deal has reportedly yet to be finalized.
According to a press release about the merger, American Media’s properties—which include Us Weekly, Life & Style, and OK!—reach “more than 60 million unique visitors” a month in the digital realm. Meanwhile, Accelerate recently launched a “successful” line of hand sanitizers, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and cloth and disposable face masks.
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