- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos name-checked American Media, Inc.
CEO and National Enquirer Publisher David Pecker in a Medium post
that said the National Enquirer tried to blackmail
- Bezos’ mention of Pecker sparked headlines that harped
on the double entendre, but it’s just the latest controversy
involving the longtime media boss.
- Once called the “bad boy of magazine publishing,”
Pecker is a successful media boss who was most recently also at the
center of a controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s 2016
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is going through a messy divorce
following allegations of an affair, alleged in a widely-read
Medium post that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him
by threatening to publish intimate text messages and photos. In the
post, Bezos name-checked American Media CEO and National Enquirer
publisher David Pecker.
Though many publications took aim at the double entendre of
Pecker’s name and the materials Bezos was threatened with, the
incident wasn’t the first time the media mogul made headlines.
The ‘bad boy of magazine publishing’
Pecker was a trained accountant who went to work for CBS, which
had a family of magazines that included Road & Track, Field
& Stream, and Modern Bride. He eventually advanced within the
company before striking a deal to buy out CBS’ magazines and
heading to Hachette Filipacchi Magazines.
Pecker has been a media heavyweight since the 1990s, when he
served as president and CEO of Hachette, which published magazines
like Elle and Car and Driver.
The company’s other ventures included “George,” a political
magazine printed from 1995-2001 that was initially headed by John
F. Kennedy, Jr., and “Trump Style,” a quarterly magazine
distributed at Trump properties that reportedly
first established Pecker’s relationship with President Donald
Pecker was known for his business acumen which boosted sales and
redeemed the provocative manager, who the New York Times once
called the “bad
boy of magazine publishing.”
The publications’ rise under Pecker came in handy for his
relationship with Trump when the businessman launched a run as a
Reform Party candidate in 2000 and was granted a favorable profile
Pecker was a regular guest at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm
Beach Florida in the 1990s, which he later
marveled about to the New Yorker in July 2017.
After taking over as CEO of American Media, Inc. in 1999, the
company’s chief publication, The National Enquirer, made national
headlines when a staff photographer
died from anthrax exposure in a mailing scare after the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Anthrax was found in AMI’s Boca Raton, Florida offices and
Pecker led the charge in representing the company in public
appearances with federal investigators.
One of The Enquirer’s other notable political stories was its
exhaustive investigation and original coverage of former North
Carolina Sen. John Edwards’
affair with Rielle Hunter months before Edwards admitted he had
fathered a child with Hunter.
Pecker’s intersections with Trump
Though his political donation history doesn’t indicate any
strong favor for either party, Pecker’s relationship with Trump
continued to pop up in coverage that furthered the then-real estate
mogul’s political interests.
After nearly a decade spent growing AMI’s inventory of
publications, Pecker again lent the company’s influence to Trump’s
political career, as the Enquirer endorsed his presidential run
In 2015, Pecker was reportedly in the room with Trump and his
former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as they devised strategies for
quashing reports on accounts from women who say they had affairs
with Trump, one of the most widely reported instances of the
campaign embracing “catch-and-kill”
tactics for negative stories.
The New York Times reported that a person close to the campaign
said Trump and Cohen were present at a February 2015 meeting at
Trump Tower where it was proposed that AMI could float embarrassing
information about former President Bill and then-Democratic
candidate Hillary Clinton for the upcoming election.
AMI categorically denied any such meetings in a statement to the
Times. Cohen was sentenced in December 2018 to three years in
prison on fraud and lying charges by special counsel Robert
In August 2018, Pecker reportedly entered into an immunity deal
with federal prosecutors who were looking into hush payments from
Trump’s campaign to women who said they had affairs with Trump,
which Cohen told investigators were made at Trump’s direction.
After several cover stories that took aim at Bezos’ large
wealth, The Enquirer published a story one day after his divorce
announcement that detailed Bezos’ relationship with television
host Lauren Sanchez that was characterized as an affair.
Medium post weeks later, Bezos took aim at Pecker, accusing AMI
of threatening to publish private text messages and photos,
including a “below-the-belt selfie,” unless Bezos would retract his
previous statements that the story about his affair was the result
of political motivation.
As “context,” Bezos writes that his ownership of the Washington
Post and its reporting on the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi
had created personal enemies for him, one of whom is President
Trump, and that Pecker was “apoplectic” or very angry about his
investigation into the Enquirer.
Bezos said he refused AMI’s condition that they wouldn’t publish
the photos was that Bezos and his investigator would state that the
Enquirer’s coverage had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that
AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by
political forces,” which Bezos writes would be “false.”
After Pecker’s decades of admiring and promoting Trump, his
participation in the special counsel investigation has reportedly
frayed his relationship with the president and complicates the
likelihood of Bezos’ claim that the story against him was the
Enquirer “weaponizing journalistic privileges.”
In a statement hours after Bezos’ post, AMI insisted the
Enquirer had “acted
lawfully” in its reporting and doubled down behind its
“negotiations” with Bezos.
As next steps remain unclear, Pecker’s track record of coverage
and the publisher’s word are weighed against Bezos’
Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News
How the National Enquirer's David Pecker, 'the bad boy of magazines,' went from betraying Trump to facing off with Jeff Bezos