National Enquirer, caught in ‘catch-and-kill’ scandal, sold
By MICHELLE CHAPMAN
AP Business Writer
The National Enquirer, the scandal-plagued tabloid that engaged in “catch-and-kill” practices to bury stories about Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, has been sold.
VVIP is buying the National Examiner and another tabloid, the Globe, from magazine publisher a360 Media in an all-cash deal, though exact financial terms were not disclosed.
In December 2018 the parent company of publications including the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and In Touch admitted to engaging in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill” in order to help Donald Trump become president.
Federal prosecutors revealed at the time that they had agreed not to prosecute American Media Inc. for secretly assisting Trump’s campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then intentionally suppressed McDougal’s story until after the election.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also accused the paper of attempting to bribe him in 2019 with embarrassing “below the belt” photos sent to his girlfriend.
American Media sold the National Enquirer and some other publications in April 2019 to James Cohen, former head of the airport newsstand company Hudson News. However, the transaction was never completed.
In August 2020 David Pecker stepped down as CEO of American Media. At the time, American Media Inc. was being taken over by Accelerate360, a logistics firm based in Smyrna, Georgia. Under Pecker, the National Enquirer for years buried potentially embarrassing stories about Trump and other favored celebrities by buying the rights to them and never publishing.
The Federal Election Commission fined a360 Media $187,500 in June 2021 for squashing the McDougal story. The FEC said the publisher’s “payment to Karen McDougal to purchase a limited life story right combined with its decision not to publish the story, in consultation with an agent of Donald J. Trump and for the purpose of influencing the election, constituted a prohibited corporate in-kind contribution.”
VVIP Ventures is a joint venture between digital media and content technologies holding company Vinco Ventures Inc. and ICON Publishing.