The New York Times reports:
The owners of The National Enquirer are in talks to sell the tabloid to the California billionaire Ronald W. Burkle, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
An acquisition of The Enquirer by Mr. Burkle, a Democratic donor with close ties to President Bill Clinton, could raise eyebrows in Washington given President Trump’s fondness for the tabloid, which he has praised on Twitter.
While representatives of The Enquirer, which is owned by American Media Inc., are deep in their negotiations with Mr. Burkle, the deal could still fall apart, according to the two people with direct knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks.
The news comes as the company has been swept up in its own slew of negative headline scandals, after Amazon founder and owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, accused execs of attempted extortion and blackmail.
Bezos specifically named CEO of American Media, David Pecker, in his lengthy write up—in fact, the post was titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker”—which alleged that American Media threatened to release damaging text messages from an extramarital relationship unless he agreed to cooperate.
The decision to explore a sale of the tabloids comes after the company has been “keenly focused” on growing its other brands, Pecker said in a statement. “Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership,” Pecker said.
The Washington Post reports:
American Media was “very, very leveraged” and repeatedly found itself “on the brink,” Pecker told the Toronto Star in 2016.
Pecker managed the company’s financial straits by broadening American Media’s portfolio in recent years, buying magazines such as Us Weekly and In Touch. He has also relied on the support of Anthony Melchiorre, who controls the $4 billion hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, which holds an 80 percent stake in the Enquirer’s parent company.
The decision to sell the tabloid resulted in part from pressure applied by Melchiorre, according to two of the people familiar with the discussions. He was motivated partly by the financial difficulties of the tabloid business, but also by his distaste for the Enquirer’s tactics.