From Jeff Bezos to Tiger Woods, the National Enquirer's long legacy of breaking scandalous stories
The decision to sell the publication came after the Enquirer became mired in a spate of high-profile legal problems
The National Enquirer's publisher American Media Inc. has reportedly put the notorious tabloid, known for its salacious journalistic practices, on sale. The decision from AMI came after the Enquirer got mired in a spate of high-profile legal problems, with the latest being its alleged attempt to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos into stopping his private probe against the tabloid.
The Enquirer has been under scrutiny for its controversial "catch and kill" practice, where it acquires exclusive rights of a story to prevent it from being ever published or released. However, AMI for the past year has found itself in a legal imbroglio because of its chairman and Trump's friend David Pecker's efforts to help President Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign, which eventually drew The Enquirer into a federal probe.
Anthony Melchiorre, the hedge-fund manager who controls AMI, has reportedly grown "disgusted" of the tabloid and its practices. "They didn’t want to deal with hassles like this anymore," a source told The Washington Post.
The Enquirer, however, has broken some prominent stories over the years, with some leading the Pulitzer Prize Board to announce in January 2010 that the tabloid would be eligible for the Pulitzer Prize in the categories of Investigative Journalism and National News Reporting. The announcement was made after there were significant outrage from big media publications questioning the tabloid's content and practices.
With AMI finally wanting to wash its hands of the Enquirer, here's a look at some of the renowned stories the tabloid first published:
John Edwards' Extramarital Affair
The National Enquirer, in October 2007, ran a story of former Presidential candidate John Edwards' alleged affair with Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker hired by Edwards' political team at the time. The former North Carolina Senato, however, vehemently denied the affair and dismissed the story as "completely untrue, ridiculous" and "false." The publication then, in July 2008, ran another article claiming they had caught Edwards visiting Hunter and their alleged illegitimate child at a hotel in Los Angeles.
Edwards, eventually in August 2008, in an interview with ABC News, admitted to having an extramarital affair with Hunter but denied having a child with her. The admittance later led to indictments against him by a federal grand jury on six felony charges of violating multiple federal campaign contribution laws to cover up an extramarital affair. He was found not guilty on one count and the judge later declared a mistrial on the remaining charges because the jury could not come to an agreement. Although there was no criminal conviction in the case, the scandal ended Edwards career in politics after it was revealed that he had an extramarital affair and fathered a child while his wife, Elizabeth, was dying of breast cancer.
Ennis Cosby's killer
As police officials were on the hunt to find Bill Cosby's son Ennis Cosby's killer after he was shot and murdered on a Lost Angeles freeway in 1997 in a failed robbery attempt, the National Enquirer played a crucial role in solving the mystery. The tabloid offered a $100,000 reward for information on the case, and it worked. A witness and acquaintance of the shooter Chris So learned of the huge reward sum and led officials to the gun used in the killing by 18-year-old Mikhail Markhasev. The publication reportedly also acquired copies of jailhouse letters that suggested Markhasev's guilt. This evidence partly led to Markhasec receiving a life sentence without parole and an additional 10 years.
The LA police chief at the time had to get up at a press conference and say: "We have just arrested a suspect for the murder of Ennis Cosby going on information we are very confident about and this is in great part due to help from the National Enquirer."
National Enquirer's former editor, in an interview with the Metro UK, once said: "I was on the phone in a heartbeat to my editor to find out how we got them to say that. Turns out it was 'either say it or we will not lead you to where the gun is hidden in the woods wrapped in the famous knitted cap'."
OJ Simpson murder trial shoes
The infamous 1994 murder trial against the former National Football League (NFL) player, broadcaster and actor OJ Simpson, accused of killing his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and his friend Ron Goldman, was one of the most publicized events in American history. The National Enquirer during the period of the lengthy trial played a key role in revealing Simpson's falsehood.
The murder case involved the infamous bloody footprint which was found at the crime scene. The footprint reportedly came from a Bruno Magli shoe, however, the former footballer vehemently denied owning any pair of Bruno Magli shoes. Shortly after Simpson's denial, the publication unearthed a picture of Simpson walking on the field at a 1993 Buffalo Bills game wearing a pair of Bruno Maglis. The Enquirer then published another picture of him wearing the shoes. The footballer, by the time of his civil trial, was forced to admit that he owned similar shoes.
The publisher was also the first to report that OJ Simpson had written a book titled 'If I did it'. Although Simpson's lawyer denied the reports, the story was confirmed when the book released a month later.
Jesse Jackson's illegitimate daughter
The Enquirer, in 2001, broke a story about American civil rights activist and politician Jesse Jackson having an illegitimate daughter with staffer Karin Stanford in 1999 outside of his marriage. Shortly after the publication scheduled its story, multiple mainstream media outlets picked it up. However, by the time the Enquirer's issue hit the stands in the morning, Jackson had already issued a statement confirming the details of the story.
The Rainbow Push Coalition— a non-profit organization founded by Jackson, in 1999, had paid Stanford $15,000 in moving expenses and $21,000 in payment for contracting work, according to CNN. She was also promised advance of an additional $40,000 against future contracting work, however, it was rescinded once the pair's affair became public. Jackson had to leave activism for a short while after he facing immense criticism.
Rush Limbaugh's drug problem
The Enquirer, in 2003, published a story on conservative talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh's drug problems and how his housekeeper Wilma Cline provided him with a steady supply of OxyContin to feed his addiction for painkillers.
Although some media outlets dismissed the story because the Enquirer had paid Cline for her story, law enforcement officials swiftly confirmed that the radio show host had purchased nearly 30,000 pills from Cline. Limbaugh then had to come clean on his show about his painkiller addiction and resolved to enter rehab.
Tiger Woods' extramarital affair
The National Enquirer broke the news of golf star Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs in 2009. The tabloid reportedly knew of it even before his wife found out. The publication's reporters obtained pictures allegedly showing the sportsman engage in an affair and Woods later, in exchange for killing the story, agreed to a Men's Fitness cover story, alleged by the Wall Street Journal. Men's Fitness is another of AMI's publications.
The allegations, however, were denied by AMI. However, the Enquirer eventually became the one to break the explosive story that in November 2009, Woods had an affair with Rachel Uchitel. The scandal later deepened as over a hundred woman alleged having an affair with the golf star.
The one story The Enquirer did not publish and got in trouble for:
Donald Trump's alleged affair with former Playboy model Karen McDougal
AMI chairman and Trump's friend David Pecker reportedly assisted President Donald Trump and his former private attorney Michael Cohen through the publication's infamous "catch and kill" practice. The Enquirer made a payment of $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal "to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations" about Trump ahead of his 2016 elections run. After a federal probe was launched into Cohen last year, prosecutors reportedly reached a deal with AMI, where the publisher agreed to not engage in such controversial practices and "provide cooperation in the future."
And the woman on the far right is Karen McDougal, one of the woman with whom trump had an affair. pic.twitter.com/p8w0aWRuU4— Just Me :-) (@jafreder3) April 6, 2019
However, the deal could now be in jeopardy as prosecutors are investigating the circumstances under which the Enquirer reported stories about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' love life in January.
Bezos, the world's richest man, has alleged that the Enquirer tried to blackmail him into squashing his private investigation into the publication. In a Medium post on February 7, the Amazon CEO revealed that AMI had threatened to publish his explicit pictures if he didn't stop the investigation into how the Enquirer obtained his private texts. The tabloid had previously published racy texts between Bezos and Sanchez, prompting the former to hire private investigators to probe the leak.