Hudson Media to buy embattled US tabloid accused of blackmail

NEW YORK • American Media is selling the National Enquirer to Hudson Media, letting the embattled publisher jettison the tabloid after being accused of trying to blackmail the world's richest man.

An agreement has been struck with Mr James Cohen, an heir to the Hudson News newsstand chain, according to a statement on Thursday.

The Washington Post reported earlier on the deal, saying he was paying US$100 million (S$135 million) for the Enquirer.

American Media announced this month that it was putting the 93-year-old tabloid up for sale, following the accusations levelled by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.

The publication was also accused of killing embarrassing stories about US President Donald Trump.

The sale should ease pressure on American Media, chief executive officer David Pecker and the publisher's hedge-fund backers.

Chatham Asset Management is the principal owner of the company and two of the firm's executives serve on its board.

 
 
 
 

Chatham has grown increasingly disgusted with the reporting tactics at the Enquirer and pushed for the sale, according to The Washington Post.

The sale includes two other titles - the Globe and National Examiner - and American Media will also get paid to provide publishing, financial and distribution services for the tabloid brands.

Hudson, meanwhile, is a century-old news distributor founded by the Cohen family. It bills itself as the largest distributor of magazines and books in the US Northeast and the second-largest nationwide. That may bring some advantages to aligning with the Enquirer.

In a statement, Mr Cohen said he wants the Enquirer to collaborate more with Investigation Discovery, a cable channel owned by Discovery. He also wants to expand the tabloid's podcast and theme-park businesses.

The Enquirer recently unveiled attractions in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, offering interactive exhibits on "stories that changed the course of history".

The Enquirer and its owner have come under scrutiny since Mr Bezos accused American Media of trying to blackmail him with photos of him with a woman who was not his wife. To support those claims, he also published e-mails sent to his lawyer, Mr Marty Singer, by American Media executives.

A staple of supermarket checkout aisles for decades, the Enquirer has suffered a decline in circulation, along with a heavy debt load.

Unloading the Enquirer would shift American Media's focus towards fitness and lifestyle brands.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'Hudson Media to buy embattled US tabloid accused of blackmail'. Print Edition | Subscribe