David Pecker, the longtime publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer, is leaving the role as part of a deal unveiled Friday in which the paper’s parent company American Media LLC said it was merging with Accelerate, a national wholesale distribution company.
Pecker, the longtime, often controversial president and CEO of Enquirer parent American Media, will become an executive adviser to the new combined company, which will be known as A360. Chris Scardino, previously EVP and Group Publisher and an 18-year veteran of American Media, becomes president.
“This is a transformative event that significantly reshapes Accelerate and American Media into a new type of media and marketing company with an unprecedented reach all the way to the sales floor,” Accelerate CEO David Parry said in a release announcing the news.
This move comes over a year after it was announced the scandal hobbled Enquirer was to be sold to a new company headed by Hudson News boss James Cohen for $100 million. Slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic, that deal is clearly DOA with today’s news.
Longtime Donald Trump ally Pecker most recently was in the news after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos accused him of “blackmail and extortion” with regard to the tech mogul’s separation and divorce in February 2019, with Bezos going public ahead of salacious stories appearing in the Inquirer. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York opened an investigation into alleged strong-arm tactics used by Pecker and the company.
He also was at the center of a “catch and kill” strategy at the tabloid to effectively bury stores that could have adversely affected Donald Trump, a practice that including paying Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 before the 2016 election for a story on an alleged affair with Trump that never ran.
A360 Media’s celebrity magazines also include Us Weekly, Life & Style and OK! along with titles like Men’s Journal and have a reach of 47 million readers each month. Accelerate is the top periodical distributor in North America, delivering magazines to more than 55,000 retail locations weekly.
“A360 Media will be unlike anything the industry has seen with an ability to create direct access to consumers for our more than 2,300 active advertising partners,” Scardino said. “I am excited to work closely with the innovative team at Accelerate and how we can leverage their insights from recent success with LifeToGo and their unparalleled marketing insights and analytics for our brands and partners.”
LifeToGo is Accelerate360’s e-commerce and direct-to-consumer marketplace, which recently launched a line of Personal Protection Equipment. Accelerate360’s also provides logistics, sales and distribution solutions including a business-to-business wholesale platform for retailers to discover and purchase products.
A360 Media will remain based in New York, with some operations and shared services moving to Accelerate’s Smyrna, GA headquarters.