National Enquirer boss David Pecker has asked the Trump administration for a government loan meant to help small businesses amid coronavirus.
American Media Inc., the tabloid magazine’s publisher, is said to have applied for between $5 million and $6 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. The relief fund was created by Congress to help small businesses through the crisis.
One AMI employee told The Daily Beast: ‘Their gumption is breathtaking. It’s not right— they would be taking money away from a small business that really needs it.’
The staffer added: ‘It doesn’t surprise me Pecker is trying this as he’s desperate, but getting money from the government and Trump after all they have done is sickening.’
American Media, which has around 450 employees, had already announced company-wide salary cuts, in the wake of the coronavirus, though the publishing company was financially troubled long before the viral outbreak.
All of the company’s titles, such as Us Weekly, cut employees’ salary by 23 per cent on April 1. DailyMail.com could not reach American Media Inc. for comment.
National Enquirer boss David Pecker, pictured, has reportedly asked the Trump administration for a government loan meant to help small businesses amid coronavirus
National Enquirer boss David Pecker has reportedly asked the Trump administration for a government loan meant to help small businesses amid coronavirus. Donald Trump speaks about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus disease alongside U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
One employee said: ‘We are not a small business. I can’t see how we qualify for this. People are currently working harder for less money and there’s a lot of anger towards Pecker. The mood is bleak.’
Pecker has been criticized in the past amid reports he helped to arrange hush money payments to two women who threatened to thwart Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 with stories about their alleged affairs with him.
The two men came up together in New York in the media and business worlds of the 1980s and 1990s, leaning on each other for a mutually beneficial friendship.
When it came time for Trump to run as president, Pecker is said to have agreed to alert him or campaign to any negative stories.
American Media Inc. paid $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed an affair with Trump, to buy the exclusive rights to her story, which never ran in a ‘catch and kill’ deal.
It was brokered by Trump’s then lawyer Michael Cohen, who was later sentenced to three years in jail over after pleading guilty to numerous charges, including campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress.
When Stormy Daniels said she too would go public, Pecker is said to have told Trump’s campaign.
The phrase ‘catch and kill’ refers to the practice of tabloid editors buying stories and then burying them, so they never see the light of day.
Former American Media Inc. executive Dylan Howard, who left the company at the end of March, was also accused by journalist Ronan Farrow and The Wall Street Journal of burying stories about President Trump.
Farrow said that the Australian tabloid executive shredded incriminating documents about Trump when he oversaw the Enquirer, which never published the documents.
The Enquirer published an expose about Bezos’ extramarital affair and included racy texts to his now-girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, which forced Bezos to publicly announce his divorce
Then in 2019, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, accused Howard and American Media of extortion and blackmail.
That came after the Enquirer published an expose about his extramarital affair and included racy texts to his now-girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, which forced Bezos to publicly announce his divorce.
The Amazon founder made his accusations known in a lengthy written piece, where he said Howard threatened to print a nude photo of Bezos and Sanchez, unless the Bezos-owned Washington Post eased up on their ‘politically motivated’ coverage of AMI.
The FBI launched an investigation into the hacking of Bezos’ phone last year.
Cyber security experts at FTI Consulting, who were hired by Bezos, have suggested that Saudi Arabia listened in on Bezos’ calls and texts, when he was in the throes of his secret affair with Sanchez and planning his divorce from his wife MacKenzie.
In January 2019, the National Enquirer revealed that affair in a scandalous expose which Bezos claims was unfairly, and potentially unlawfully, put together. It included nude photographs of Bezos.
American Media Inc (AMI), which owns the National Enquirer, has never confirmed the source of those photos.
The alleged Saudi Arabian hack has raised further questions about AMI’s relationship with the country and specifically Pecker’s ties to the kingdom.
Pecker has been criticized in the past amid reports he helped to arrange hush money payments to two women who threatened to thwart Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 with stories about their alleged affairs with him. The two men are pictured in 2004
American Media Inc. paid $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal, left, who claimed an affair with Trump, to buy the exclusive rights to her story, which it never ran. When Stormy Daniels.,right, said she too would go public, Pecker is said to have told Trump’s campaign
Dylan Howard’s contract, which expired on March 31, was not renewed, after more than a decade at the publishing company.
Following scrutiny for the McDougal hush money payout and fallout from the Bezos expose, AMI made a $100 million deal to sell the National Enquirer to James Cohen, the heir to Hudson News, which as of today, has still not closed.
A source says the much-delayed deal has not been called off, and prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the buyer was still working through details, but with the economic crisis spurred by the pandemic, business across all industries is on pause.
When announcing company-wide pay cuts last week, American Media Inc. released a statement to media, noting that no layoffs have occurred. ‘
American Media is committed to doing everything we can during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure our staff maintain their employment and health benefits,’ a spokesperson for the company said.
Former American Media Inc. executive Dylan Howard left the company at the end of March
Prior to the coronavirus-prompted salary cuts at AMI, both RadarOnline and Men’s Journal underwent sweeping staff reductions with the men’s lifestyle magazine relocating to the west coast and laying off New York-based employees.
Insiders say RadarOnline was hit the hardest, among the company’s layoffs.
The Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to infuse small businesses, which typically have less access to quick cash and credit, with $349 billion in emergency loans that could help keep workers on the job and bills paid on time.
News that the $1.6 billion Shake Shack burger empire had received a maximum $10 million loan ignited public anger.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has addressed the issue at a White House briefing, saying: ‘The intent of this money was not for big public companies that had access to capital.’
A spokesman for AMI said: ‘American Media made the decision to apply for PPP support in an effort to secure hundreds of jobs that might have been lost as we and other publishers continue to navigate the current economic climate created by the Covid-19 pandemic.’
They did not confirm how much they are seeking in help.