‘Retired’ National Enquirer Chief David Pecker Is Still in Charge and ‘Still Protecting Trump,’ Insiders Say
Multiple well-placed sources within the tabloid empire said the old boss is still calling the shots from retirement, and still helping his now-ex presidential pal.
Here’s a question for the supermarket tabloid publisher formerly known as American Media Inc.: Is that a Pecker in your pocket or are you still hot for Trump?
Yellow journalism purveyor and Donald Trump acolyte David Pecker ostensibly retired as chairman and CEO of the National Enquirer’s financially strapped parent company last August when AMI changed its name to A360 Media as it was being acquired by a marketer of face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and vitamin supplements. But he has, allegedly, remained very much in the saddle.
The revelation comes amid mass layoffs across A360 Media’s titles—which also include Star magazine, OK!, Globe, Examiner, In Touch, Us Weekly and Life and Style—with significantly curtailed severance packages being offered to a fired workforce that already took a 23-percent pay cut last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting print-media bottom lines.
According to three well-situated A360 Media insiders, the 69-year-old Pecker, nominally just an “executive adviser,” is still driving editorial decisions from his Greenwich, Connecticut, estate and protecting his longtime pal Trump—much as he did during the 2016 campaign.
Then, Pecker weaponized the Enquirer against Trump’s adversaries and, along with disgraced Trump attorney Michael Cohen, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to “catch and kill” the life stories of porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claimed to have had extramarital sex with the reality game show host-turned-presidential candidate.
Pecker’s strong hand was evident last Wednesday, current staffers told The Daily Beast, in two cover stories about the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection in both the National Enquirer and Globe that were published the same day as Joe Biden was being sworn in as the 46th president.
With cover lines blaming the attempted coup on “WHITE SUPREMACISTS” (National Enquirer) and “NEO-NAZI ASSASSINS” (Globe), the two tabloids didn’t even bother to mention the twice-impeached Trump who is facing his second Senate trial next month—an historical first for an American president—for allegedly inciting the lethal riot in which five people died, including a Capitol police officer.
“When you run stories like the Capitol riots and not mention Trump, it raises eyebrows. Why is Pecker still protecting Trump?” demanded an A360 Media employee who, like others who spoke to The Daily Beast, asked not to be further identified out of concern for corporate reprisals. “I’m surprised no one has called out Pecker for his support of Trump.”
A second staffer said Pecker—who, along with his former sidekick Dylan Howard, signed a non-prosecution deal in December 2018 with the Southern District of New York to come clean about their, and Trump’s, potential violations of campaign finance laws—is A360 Media’s man behind the curtain.
“The running joke is Pecker is behind the curtain pulling the strings just like The Wizard of Oz,” this staffer told The Daily Beast.
“Pecker is there and getting paid and is completely in control,” a third insider said. “Pecker never went away. They lied. They wanted to take the heat out of the whole Trump hush money payments saga.”
Indeed, people familiar with the situation said Pecker is still calling the shots and picking covers, just as he did during his two decade-long, financially ruinous leadership of AMI—a claim denied by Dan Dolan, the editor-in-chief of both the National Enquirer and Globe.
“All editorial decisions for the National Enquirer and Globe are made by me and my editorial team and any suggestion that David is still involved is baseless and completely false,” Dolan said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “In fact, the last time he attended an edit meeting was July of 2020.”
While top Enquirer editors recently announced a so-called “cover committee” designed to choose and review cover stories, an insider scoffed: “At the end of the day it’s all Pecker. They can say… that it’s not really Pecker, but it is complete bullshit.”
According to insiders, shortly after The Daily Beast requested comment on Pecker’s role at A360 Media, the Enquirer killed a planned expose´ scheduled for last Wednesday’s issue detailing Joe Biden’s supposed extramarital “cheating” scandal—a highly dubious allegation based on claims dating back 45 years that the 46th president and first lady Jill Biden had an affair that broke up her first marriage.
Meanwhile, a week ago, A360 Media permanently terminated around three dozen staffers who were placed on pandemic-related furloughs last year. According to several laid-off employees, their severance packages—based on their COVID-reduced salaries, not their original compensation—grant only one week’s payment, instead of the traditional two, per year of service, plus one bonus week. Severance payments, however, are capped at 13 weeks.
“If I had been laid off in February [before the 23-percent cut] I would be getting two weeks per year at full pay,” one outraged longtime staffer told The Daily Beast. “Now I’m walking away with peanuts. It’s disgraceful.”
A second fired employee blamed Chatham Asset Management, the hedge fund that financially propped up Pecker’s AMI—to the tune of 80-percent ownership—and remains a major investor in A360 Media.
“It’s the Chatham guys,” said this ex-staffer. “They are screwing us for every last dollar. It’s reprehensible.”
The hedge fund’s spokesman, Jonathan Gasthalter, disagreed.
“Chatham has no involvement whatsoever in the management of A360’s business and any suggestion otherwise is patently false and libelous,” he said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
A spokesperson for A360 Media, meanwhile, explained the layoffs and reduced severance packages this way: “While we have been able to bring back a number of furloughed staff and extend benefit protection to those still furloughed, the Covid-19 pandemic is still having a measurable impact on our industry and as a result we have had to make difficult decisions in regard to staffing.”
An A360 Media insider, however, noted: “Pecker is there and getting paid and is completely in control. If he wasn’t earning $2 million a year maybe they could reinstate our pay… The feeling is we are never going to get the money back.”