David Jay Pecker
September 24, 1951
|Education||Pace University (BBA)|
|Employer||AMI Paper Inc.|
|Title||Chairman, CEO, and President|
David Jay Pecker (born September 24, 1951) is the chairman and CEO of American Media. He is the publisher of National Enquirer, Star, Sun, Weekly World News, Globe, Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Fit Pregnancy, and Shape.
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.
David Jay Pecker was born to a Jewish family on September 24, 1951, in The Bronx, New York City. His father was a bricklayer who died in 1967 when Pecker was sixteen. To support his mother, he started bookkeeping for local businesses in New Rochelle, New York and in the Bronx. He graduated from Pace University.
After college, Pecker began his career as an accountant at Price Waterhouse and in 1979 joined the accounting department at CBS's magazine division, rising to vice president and controller. 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.. In 1999, Pecker left Hachette when he raised capital from Thomas H. Lee Partners and Evercore Partners to buy American Media, publisher of the Star, the Globe, the National Enquirer, and the Weekly World News.
Pecker is the chairman and chief executive officer of American Media, Inc. He is the publisher of National Enquirer, Star, Sun, Weekly World News, Globe, Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Fit Pregnancy and Shape. He has served in his current role at AMI since 1999 and previously served as Chairman and CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Médias.
Pecker serves on the board of directors of iPayment Holdings, Inc., Sunbeam Products, Inc., Next Generation Network, Inc, AMI Paper, Inc., and American Media, Inc. 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.
Involvement with Donald Trump
|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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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 catch and kill operation, insisting that AMI did not run the story because Sajudin‘s story lacked credibility. 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.
Federal investigators subpoenaed Pecker and AMI in April 2018, with Pecker providing prosecutors details about the hush payments Cohen had arranged. In August 2018, Pecker was also granted witness immunity in exchange for his testimony of Trump's knowledge of the payments.
Accusations of extortion by Jeff Bezos and Ronan Farrow
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, criminal accusations Pecker denied through an attorney. Bezos wrote that AMI proposed in writing that Bezos state publically 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. Both AMI and the Manhattan prosecutor launched reviews of the accusations. 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. Ronan Farrow, a journalist, said he and another journalist received similar demands from AMI.
In 1987, he married Karen Balan.
- 2017–18 United States political sexual scandals
- Legal affairs of Donald Trump
- Stormy Daniels–Donald Trump scandal
- Timeline of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2018)
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- Kim, Eugene (February 7, 2019). "Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion, shows emails with threats to publish nudes".
- bezos, jeff (February 7, 2019). "No thank you mr pecker".
- "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of 'extortion' over intimate photos". February 7, 2019.
- "National Enquirer parent company owner David Pecker's lawyer denies Bezos allegations".
- Breuninger, Kevin (February 8, 2019). "National Enquirer publisher: We 'acted lawfully' on Bezos but we'll investigate". cnbc.com.
- "Ronan Farrow: I received 'blackmail' threat similar to Amazon's Jeff Bezos". USA TODAY.