American Media, Inc.
|Headquarters||New York City|
|David J. Pecker, CEO|
|Owner||Chatham Asset Management, LLC|
Omega Charitable Partnership, L.P.
Number of employees
American Media, Inc. (A.M.I.), is an American publisher of magazines, supermarket tabloids, and books based in New York City. On December 12, 2018, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported that A.M.I. admitted to paying $150,000 to Karen McDougal in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign for the sole purpose of preventing damaging allegations prior to the 2016 election for President of the United States.
The modern American Media came into being after Generoso Pope, Jr., longtime owner of the National Enquirer, died in 1988, and his tabloids came under new ownership. American tabloids began consolidating in 1990, when American Media bought Star from Rupert Murdoch. The purchase of Globe Communications (owner of the Globe and the National Examiner) followed nine years later. Roger Altman, through Evercore Partners, bought a controlling stake in American Media in 1999.
American Media is not to be confused with American Media Distribution the international news coverage firm. American Media's former corporate headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, figured prominently in news headlines in late 2001, after an anthrax attack was perpetrated on the company and other media outlets. Since then the corporate headquarters have moved to New York City at 1 Park Avenue in Manhattan, before moving to the Financial District to the former JP Morgan Chase headquarters at 4 New York Plaza. That building was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy but reopened in February 2013. The CEO, David J. Pecker, travels between the Boca Raton and New York offices while managing the company.
AMI continued to expand after it bought Joe Weider's Weider Publications in 2002. Joe Weider continued to manage control of his magazines under AMI's Weider Publications subsidiary until his death in March 2013.
In 2009, American Media was taken over by its bondholders to keep it out of bankruptcy.
In November 2010, American Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to nearly $1 billion in debt, and assets of less than $50,000. Its subsidiary, American Media Operations Inc., listed assets of $100 to $500 million and debt of over $1 billion. It exited in December.
In May 2014, American Media announced a decision to shift the headquarters of the National Enquirer from Florida, where it had been located since 1971, back to New York City, where it originally began as The New York Enquirer in 1926. In August 2014, American Media was acquired by Chatham Asset Management and Omega Charitable Partnership.
In June 2018, American Media acquired 13 brands from Bauer Media Group including In Touch Weekly, Life & Style (magazine) and Closer (magazine) to add to their celebrity portfolio. They also acquired Bauer Media's kids group including J-14 (magazine) and Girl's World.
In late 2015, AMI paid $30,000 to Dino Sajudin, a doorman at Trump Tower, to obtain the rights to his story in which he alleged Donald Trump had an affair in the 1980s that resulted in the birth of a child. Sajudin in April 2018 identified the woman as Trump's former housekeeper. AMI reporters were given the names of the woman and the alleged child, while Sajudin passed a lie detector test when testifying that he had heard the story from others. Shortly after the payment was made, Pecker ordered the reporters to drop the story. In April 2018, AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard denied the story was “spiked” in a so-called “catch and kill” operation, insisting that AMI did not run the story because Sajudin‘s story lacked credibility. On August 24, 2018, after AMI had released Sajudin from the contract, CNN obtained a copy of it and published excerpts. The contract instructed Sajudin to provide "information regarding Donald Trump's illegitimate child," but did not contain further specifics of Sajudin's story.
In 2016, AMI paid Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for exclusive rights to her allegations of a ten-month affair with Donald Trump—which she claimed happened in 2006-2007, while he was married to Melania—but A.M.I. never published the story. A.M.I. publicly acknowledged having made the payment after the Wall Street Journal revealed it days before the 2016 presidential election, but A.M.I. denied that its purpose had been to "kill damaging stories about" Trump; instead, A.M.I. claimed it had paid only for "exclusive life rights to any relationship [McDougal] has had with a then-married man" and "two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers." In March 2018, McDougal filed a lawsuit to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement she had with AMI. A month later, A.M.I. settled with McDougal, allowing her to speak about the alleged affair. In August 2018, it was reported that A.M.I. CEO/Chairman David Pecker and AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard were granted witness immunity in exchange for their testimony regarding hush money payments made by Donald Trump's then-personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.
On December 12, 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its agreement with A.M.I. "AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign," the press release said, so that Karen McDougal wouldn't "publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election. AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election." As a result of this agreement, A.M.I. would not face prosecution and agreed to provide extensive assistance to prosecutors about the involvement of Trump and other politicians with the company. The same press release also revealed that Michael Cohen had been sentenced to three years in prison for various crimes, including the $150,000 campaign finance violation—the facilitation of the payment to McDougal—to which he pled guilty on August 21, 2018.
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