David Pecker

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David Pecker
David Jay Pecker

(1951-09-24) September 24, 1951 (age 70)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
EducationPace University (BBA)
EmployerAMI Paper Inc.
TitleChairman, CEO, and President[1][2]
Spouse(s)Karen Balan

David Jay Pecker[3] (born September 24, 1951) is an American publishing executive and businessman, who was the CEO of American Media until August 2020. He was the publisher of Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Fit Pregnancy, Shape and Star. He was also the publisher of National Enquirer, Sun, Weekly World News, and Globe.

In 2018, Pecker became embroiled in controversy regarding his involvement in a catch and kill operation to buy exclusive rights to stories that might embarrass his friend Donald Trump, to prevent the stories from becoming public during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Early life[edit]

Pecker was born on September 24, 1951,[4] in The Bronx, New York City.[1][5][6] He is of Jewish descent.[7] His father was a bricklayer who died in 1967 when Pecker was 16.[8] To support his mother, he started bookkeeping for local businesses in New Rochelle, New York and in the Bronx.[9] He graduated from Pace University.[1][10]


After college, Pecker began his career as an accountant at Price Waterhouse[9][3] and in 1979 joined the accounting department at CBS's magazine division, rising to vice president and comptroller.[citation needed] Eight years later, CBS sold its magazine division in a leveraged buyout to its manager, Peter Diamandis; Pecker stayed on in his position . Diamandis later sold the magazines to Hachette Filipacchi Médias. After Diamandis's departure three years later, Pecker was appointed CEO at Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.[3] In 1999, Pecker left Hachette when he raised capital from Thomas H. Lee Partners and Evercore Partners to buy American Media, Inc. (AMI), publisher of the Star, the Globe, the National Enquirer, and the Weekly World News.[3]

During his time as chairman and chief executive officer of AMI[11] Pecker served as publisher of the magazines Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Fit Pregnancy, Shape and Star, as well as the supermarket tabloids National Enquirer, Star, Sun, Weekly World News, Globe. Sun and Weekly World News have ceased publication. In 2019, Pecker announced that he had agreed drop more of AMI's tabloids and sell the National Enquirer, Globe and National Examiner to Hudson News.[12][13][14]

Pecker serves on the board of directors of iPayment Holdings, Inc., Sunbeam Products, Inc. and Next Generation Network, Inc.[1] In August 2018, after his interactions with President Donald Trump were heavily reported, Pecker resigned as a director of Postmedia Network Canada Corp., a leading Canadian media company, a position he had held since October 2016.[15]

In 2016, Pecker revealed to the Toronto Star that American Media Inc. now relied on support from Chatham Asset Management and its owner Anthony Melchiorre due to financial troubles.[16][17] By the time Pecker agreed to sell the National Enquirer on April 10, 2019, Chatham Asset Management owned 80 percent of American Media Inc's stock.[17][18] Melchiorre, who expressed dismay towards the National Enquirer's scandals involving assistance to Trump's 2016 Presidential campaign and blackmail of Jeff Bezos,[17][18] was also instrumental in forcing Pecker and American Media Inc. to sell the National Enquirer as well.[17][18]

AMI removed Pecker as CEO in August 2020, keeping him on in the role of executive advisor. Simultaneously, the company was renamed a360Media in anticipation of a merger with another Chatham property, the logistics firm Accelerate 360.[19]

Involvement with Donald Trump[edit]

External image
image icon David Pecker Hosts Playboy's 50th Anniversary Celebration Zimbio

Beginning in March 1998, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., of which Pecker was then CEO, began producing Trump Style, which was distributed to guests at Donald Trump's properties.[20][21] Pecker has described himself as a close friend of Trump. Pecker supported Trump's initial run for president as part of the Reform Party in 2000.[5]

In an August 2014 meeting at Trump Tower, Pecker offered to Trump that he would use the National Enquirer to catch and kill any allegations of sexual affairs against him.[22]

Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen requested that Pecker's AMI buy the rights to Stormy Daniels's story, though Pecker refused to do so.[23]

By 2018, Pecker and AMI found themselves under investigation for using catch and kill payments, in which AMI purchased the exclusive rights to stories that might have been damaging to Trump's 2016 campaign for President and then refused to publish them. Such a tactic may have represented illegal and/or undeclared "in-kind" campaign donations under Federal Election Commission rules.[5]

In March 2018, Karen McDougal filed a lawsuit against American Media in Los Angeles Superior Court, aiming to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement preventing her from speaking about an alleged affair with Trump. Pecker had directed AMI to purchase the exclusive rights to the story for $150,000 in 2016, allegedly to keep it from the public.[24] In April 2018 the lawsuit was settled and McDougal was released from the agreement. AMI also agreed to feature her on the cover of another AMI magazine, Men's Journal, in September 2018.[25][26]

In April 2018, FBI agents searched the office and residences of Michael Cohen, in part to search for evidence of Trump's involvement in the payment to McDougal.[24] In July 2018, a tape became public which confirmed this payment; the tape was secretly recorded by Cohen during a conversation with then candidate Trump in 2016.[27]

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 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.[28] 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.[29] In April 2018, AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard denied the story was "spiked" in a catch and kill operation, insisting that AMI did not run the story because Sajudin's story lacked credibility.[30] CNN obtained a copy of the contract between AMI and Sajudin in August 2018, after AMI had released Sajudin from the contract. CNN published excerpts of the contract, which instructed Sajudin to provide "information regarding Donald Trump's illegitimate child", but did not contain further specifics of Sajudin's story.[31]

Federal investigators subpoenaed Pecker and AMI in April 2018, with Pecker providing prosecutors details about the hush payments Cohen had arranged.[32] In August 2018, Pecker was also granted witness immunity in exchange for his testimony of Trump's knowledge of the payments.[33]

On February 27, 2019, Cohen testified under oath to the House Oversight Committee that he and Pecker conspired to "catch-and-kill" stories which had the potential to damage Trump.[34]

Accusations of extortion by Jeff Bezos and Ronan Farrow[edit]

In January 2019, Pecker's National Enquirer published what it called "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and a romantic partner. Bezos began investigating how his personal communications reached the paper. The next month, Bezos accused the National Enquirer of extortion and blackmail by threatening to release Bezos' intimate pictures,[35] criminal accusations Pecker denied through an attorney. Bezos wrote[36] that AMI proposed in writing that Bezos state publicly that he and his security consultant "have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces." In return, AMI would withhold publication of the pictures.[37]

Both AMI and the Manhattan prosecutor launched reviews of the accusations.[38] Any violation of law by AMI would constitute a breach of the immunity agreement the company reached with prosecutors in 2018 after the paper agreed to "catch and kill" a story on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump.[39] Ronan Farrow, a journalist, said he and another journalist received similar demands from AMI.[40]

Personal life[edit]

In 1987, Pecker married Karen Balan.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "David J. Pecker: Executive Profile & Biography". bloomberg.com. August 28, 2018. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Donnelley Financial Solutions. "AMERICAN MEDIA OPERATIONS INC - 10-K - 20050629 - DIRECTORS_AND_OFFICERS". google.brand.edgar-online.com. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "David Pecker". gawker.com. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  4. ^ a b The International Who's Who 2004. Psychology Press. 2003. p. 1300. ISBN 9781857432176.
  5. ^ a b c Rutenberg, Jim; Steel, Emily; McIntire, Mike (April 11, 2018). "Investigators Focus on Another Trump Ally: The National Enquirer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Pink, Aiden. "How Tabloid King David Pecker Turned On Trump — Like Michael Cohen". Forward. Forward. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Goldiner, Dave (August 24, 2018). "Who Is Allen Weisselberg, The Third Key Jewish Associate To Flip On Trump". Jewish Daily Forward.
  8. ^ Kampeas, Ron (June 1, 2018). "3 Jewish media moguls who dish the dirt — and defer to Donald Trump". Jewish Telegraph Agency.
  9. ^ a b Jeffrey Toobin (July 3, 2017). "The National Enquirer's Fervor for Trump". newyorker.com. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "Alumni Network - Previous Honorees". Pace University. September 10, 2015. Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2018 – via archive.org.
  11. ^ "American Media, Inc. Executive Team". American Media, Inc. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  12. ^ "American Media, LLC Reaches Agreement to Sell Tabloids, Including National Enquirer, to Hudson Media". American Media Inc (Press release). April 18, 2019.
  13. ^ Paris, Francesca (April 19, 2019). "'National Enquirer' To Be Sold To Hudson News Heir James Cohen". NPR.
  14. ^ Osborne, Mark (April 18, 2019). "Hudson Media buys National Enquirer for $100 million in wake of Trump, Bezos scandals". ABC News.
  15. ^ "Trump insider David Pecker leaving Postmedia board of directors". CTV News. The Canadian Press. August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  16. ^ Lu, Vanessa (October 19, 2016). "Executive from National Enquirer parent joins Postmedia board". thestar.com.
  17. ^ a b c d Ellison, Sarah; Fisher, Marc (April 10, 2019). "National Enquirer expected to be sold imminently as parent company faces pressure". Bangor Daily News. The Washington Post.
  18. ^ a b c Wang, Christine (April 10, 2019). "National Enquirer's parent company says it's likely to sell the tabloid 'in the near future'". CNBC.
  19. ^ Smith, Ben (August 21, 2020). "National Enquirer Chief David Pecker Loses Top Job in Company Merger". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (April 6, 1998). "Once a Renegade, Hachette Magazine Chief Gains Respect". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Hachette signs up 'Trump Style'". Advertising Age. September 11, 1997.
  22. ^ http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/sdny-cohen.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwi3vvDsnJHfAhULw1kKHe_rASAQFjARegQICBAB&usg=AOvVaw2ZL6Uk0fji-mLi5995gY1f. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  23. ^ Palazzolo, Joe; Hong, Nicole; Rothfeld, Michael; O'Brien, Rebecca Davis (November 9, 2018). "Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal". The Wall Street Journal.
  24. ^ a b Shear, Michael D.; Apuzzo, Matt; Schmidt, Michael S.; LaFraniere, Sharon; Haberman, Maggie (April 10, 2018). "Raid on Trump's Lawyer Sought Records of Payments to Women". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  25. ^ Kirby, Jen (April 18, 2018). "Karen McDougal can now talk openly about her alleged affair with Donald Trump". Vox. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  26. ^ Al-Sibai, Noor (August 10, 2018). "MSNBC's Rachel Maddow explains 'somewhat hilarious' reason why Trump mistress Karen McDougal is on Men's Health cover". Raw Story. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment to Playboy Model". Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  28. ^ Moghe, Chris Isidore, Tom Kludt and Sonia (April 12, 2018). "Former doorman involved in story of alleged Trump affair speaks". Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  29. ^ Farrow, Ronan (April 12, 2018). "The National Enquirer, a Trump Rumor, and Another Secret Payment to Buy Silence". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  30. ^ "$30,000 rumor? Tabloid paid for, spiked, salacious Trump tip". Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  31. ^ Moghe, Sonia (August 25, 2018). "Ex-Trump World Tower doorman releases 'catch-and-kill' contract about alleged Trump affair". CNN. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  32. ^ O'Brien, Rebecca Davis; Hong, Nicole; Palazzolo, Joe (August 23, 2018). "Why Michael Cohen Agreed to Plead Guilty—And Implicate the President". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2019 – via www.wsj.com.
  33. ^ Pramuk, Kevin Breuninger, Jacob (August 23, 2018). "National Enquirer boss and longtime Trump friend David Pecker gets immunity in Michael Cohen case". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  34. ^ Jessica Taylor (February 28, 2019). "5 Revelations From Cohen: 2017 Checks, 'Catch-And-Kill,' Possible Book Deal". NPR. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  35. ^ Kim, Eugene (February 7, 2019). "Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion, shows emails with threats to publish nudes".
  36. ^ Bezos, Jeff (February 7, 2019). "No thank you, Mr. Pecker".
  37. ^ "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of 'extortion' over intimate photos". February 7, 2019.
  38. ^ "National Enquirer parent company owner David Pecker's lawyer denies Bezos allegations".
  39. ^ Breuninger, Kevin (February 8, 2019). "National Enquirer publisher: We 'acted lawfully' on Bezos but we'll investigate". cnbc.com.
  40. ^ "Ronan Farrow: I received 'blackmail' threat similar to Amazon's Jeff Bezos". USA TODAY.