Scandal-scarred tabloid National Enquirer, which engaged in “catch-and-kill” practices to bury stories about Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, has been sold to a mogul with his own checkered past.
The Enquirer’s parent company, a360 Media, said Monday it reached a deal to sell the supermarket staple – along with other publications the National Examiner, the Globe and the National Enquirer UK – to a group run by disgraced former MoviePass chairman Theodore Farnsworth.
Farnsworth, who was criminally charged with securities fraud last November, said the deal for the Enquirer and the other titles was for roughly $100 million, according to The New York Times.
The Enquirer was reportedly on the block for about four years before Farnsworth scooped it up as part of a new company — VVIP Ventures — formed by Vinco Ventures and Farnsworth-founded Icon Publishing. Vinco owns Lomotif, which it bills as a TikTok competitor.
The sale to Farnsworth comes after he and others were accused of misleading investors about MoviePass, the once-hot movie ticketing startup. A spokesman for Farnsworth said his lawyers would fight the charges, according to CNBC.
The National Enquirer got into its own legal mess in 2018 over using “catch-and-kill” tactics in which the tabloid would allegedly pay for stories about Donald Trump and never publish them. The move was meant to help Trump clinch the presidency.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, over the $150,000 hush-money payment the tabloid gave Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump. The company then intentionally suppressed McDougal’s story until after the election was over.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also accused the tabloid of attempting to bribe him in 2019 with embarrassing nudes he sent to his girlfriend.
American Media sold the National Enquirer and some other publications in April 2019 to James Cohen, former head of the airport newsstand company Hudson News, but the deal was never completed.
In August 2020, American Media CEO David Pecker stepped down from the company, which was being taken over by a360, a Smyrna, Ga.-based logistics firm.
The deal to sell the Enquirer comes a week after Pecker and his lawyer were spotted entering a Manhattan courthouse where a grand jury was meeting to determine whether to charge Trump over an alleged scheme to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.