Newsstand and magazine distribution exec James Cohen will pay $100 million for the struggling National Enquirer and two of its sister publications. Cohen’s family built a fortune creating Hudson News, the airport terminal shop of choice for anyone looking to pay $9 for Chex Mix.
This deal could use a little unpacking.
First, the scandals
Because what would a supermarket tabloid be without its own, homegrown gossip.
- Last year, National Enquirer owner American Media Inc. (AMI) admitted to making a $150,000 payment “in concert with” President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The tabloid buried a story about Trump’s alleged affair with a former Playboy model—a so-called “catch and kill”—to help him get elected.
- More recently, Amazon CEO/world’s richest man Jeff Bezos accused Enquirer publisher/longtime Trump confidant David Pecker and his team at AMI of trying to blackmail him. AMI says it acted lawfully in reporting on Bezos’s love life.
AMI’s backers had supposedly become frustrated with the Enquirer’s questionable reporting tactics, which Pecker oversees, prompting AMI to sell the Enquirer.
Next, the stats
There’s a reason you really only see the National Enquirer when visiting Grandma—sales have been trailing off for years. It had average weekly sales of 218,000 in the last six months of 2018, down 41% from 2015.
What’s next for Cohen: Paul Pope, whose father Generoso bought the tabloid and turned it around in 1952, had this to say: “I don’t think there is any way, even if they gave the paper away, I don’t think it can be resurrected…There is just nothing left.”
What’s next for AMI: Selling the Enquirer cuts AMI’s debt from more than $400 million to $355 million. And going forward, it’ll likely focus on lifestyle and fitness brands instead of gossip rags.