The National Enquirer owner, whose name has emerged in Robert Muellers Russia inquiry, has had a symbiotic relationship with the president for decades
David Pecker’s reach into US society is unescapable: he owns nearly every supermarket tabloid and gossip sheet in the United States, including the flagship publication National Enquirer.
But before he surfaced as part of a federal investigation into the former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, relatively little was known about Pecker, the longtime chief executive of American Media, Inc( AMI) and close Trump confidant.
He took centre stage two months ago when it was reported that he had been described into the special advise Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 election.
And the media mogul appears in the tape recently released by Cohen’s attorney to CNN in which Trump’s former lawyer appears to be discussing how best be paid by Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model with whom Trump had had an affair. That, along with its most recent subpoena in the criminal investigation of Cohen, have thrust him into the national spotlight. Pecker and the National Enquirer are under investigation for an alleged” catch and kill” in relation to the McDougal story- the practice of buying up a story and then burying it. Investigators are looking into whether this would constitute an unlawful contribution to the Trump campaign.
The Enquirer editor, Dylan Howard, says the tabloid’s approach to encompassing Trump is strictly business and that any stories it has killed were killed for innocent reasons.
” If AMI was’ helpful’ to the president during the campaign it was because the audience of the National Enquirer was one of the most supportive of his candidacy ,” Howard said in an April statement.” We covered him for a business reason .”
The Enquirer no longer holds the power, or has the reaching, that it had during its heyday, where reference is reportedly sold 6m transcripts a week. It now sells fewer than 400,000.
Tabloids have been central to Trump’s myth-building since he emerged on the New York real estate scene. But none have been more helpful to his political aspirations than the Enquirer, which under Pecker has served to construct Trump’s political attacks and storylines more digestible.
” The National Enquirer is even more valuable than a campaign mailer ,” says the former Trump campaign consultant Sam Nunberg.” Why? Because whether people buy it or not, if they’re standing in a line, they’re standing in Walmart, they’re standing in a Costco, they’re waiting in line, they’re bored, they pull out the Enquirer and they look at it. And a lot of those people are primary voters, Republican voters, and election voters .”
AMI’s mission creep
Pecker’s ambitions for a tabloid empire have been apparent since he took over AMI virtually 20 decades ago- among his first moves as the new chairman was to trench a group of prestigious publishings to focus on growing ad money and media acquisitions.
And more recently Pecker, who, in addition to the Enquirer, owns Globe, OK !, Star, and Radar Online, all under the AMI umbrella, has seen remarkable success in empire expansion.