The National Enquirer, Reeling From Trump, Still Can’t Find a Buyer

For five years, the owner of The National Enquirer has been trying to find a buyer to take it off its hands. But repeated attempts at a sale have turned into a tabloid-worthy saga of its own.

The embattled publication is back in the spotlight because of the hush-money trial of former president Donald J. Trump, which centers on the “catch and kill” practices The National Enquirer deployed in an attempt to bolster Mr. Trump’s chances in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump, the first former U.S. president to face a criminal prosecution, is on trial in New York, charged with falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress, to keep her allegations of their affair out of the media. David Pecker, the former publisher of The Enquirer and a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, is the prosecution’s first witness and will testify again on Thursday.

His testimony so far has detailed just how enmeshed The Enquirer was with the Trump campaign, a relationship that saw Mr. Pecker pushed out and that contributed to a tangled web of aborted deals as its owner tried to unload it over the last few years.

Mr. Pecker described in court this week how The Enquirer had worked with the Trump campaign to “catch and kill” potentially damaging stories about Mr. Trump by paying off sources in exchange for their silence. He said he had agreed to act as the “eyes and ears” of the campaign and squash unflattering stories while promoting articles that trashed Mr. Trump’s opponents.

The Enquirer’s extreme brand of checkbook journalism came into full view in 2018 when its parent company, American Media Inc., struck a deal with Manhattan prosecutors to cooperate with an investigation into the hush-money payments in exchange for immunity in the case. The company admitted to making the payments and said it had known they violated campaign finance laws. (It paid a $187,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for those violations.)

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