Feb 6, 2023 - Economy

Scandal-ridden National Enquirer to be sold

Photo Illustration: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The National Enquirer, the gossip tabloid that became engulfed in a 2018 "catch and kill" scandal for burying news about the Trump campaign, is being sold by its owners to a digital publishing joint venture.

Why it matters: The sale marks the second time the publication has undergone ownership changes since its former publisher admitted to paying $150,000 in hush money to a Playboy model in an effort to bury a story about Trump's alleged affair with her.

Catch up quick: Following the "catch and kill" scandal, the Enquirer's former parent company American Media LLC, merged with Accelerate360 — a media distribution company — to create a new holding company called A360 Media.

  • David Pecker, the Enquirer's former publisher, in 2020 stepped down as CEO of American Media as part of the deal, and moved into an advisory role.
  • American Media LLC said it planned to sell the paper in 2019 when it was still its technical owner, but that deal fell through.

Details: The Enquirer's current owners say they've struck an agreement with a joint venture called VVIP Ventures to acquire both the U.S. and U.K. editions of the National Enquirer, the National Examiner and the Globe in an all-cash transaction for an undisclosed amount.

  • VVIP Ventures is a joint venture between Vinco Ventures Inc., a publicly traded digital media and tech company, and ICON Publishing, a limited liability company founded by Ted Farnsworth, a film producer and entrepreneur who was formerly chairman of the embattled movie subscription service MoviePass. Farnsworth was criminally charged with securities fraud last year.

The big picture: The Enquirer has been through a number of scandals in recent years.

  • The company was eventually fined $187,500 by the Federal Election Commission for Trump hush money payments.
  • It was accused of extortion and blackmail by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019 for threatening to publish nude photos of Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
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