WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.-09) wrote to the heads of the supermarket chains Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Publix, and Food Lion, and called on them to remove the National Enquirer tabloid from their shelves following the latest reports that the head of the tabloid allegedly used it to deliberately spread false information and as a vehicle to commit extortion, blackmail, and other crimes.
“I write to request your businesses discontinue sales of the National Enquirer tabloid. Recent events make clear that the tabloid is a purveyor of fabricated news and possibly a vehicle in furtherance of illegal extortion, blackmail, and other crimes. In the interest of your millions of customers, this tabloid should be removed from all your store shelves,” Pascrell writes the leaders of America’s largest supermarket chains.
After recounting the sordid history and recent stories surrounding the tabloid, Pascrell writes, “[j]ust as none of you would sell a contaminated food product, I know you would never dispense other agents of sickness to the tens of millions of customers who walk through your aisles every day. Misinformation makes our society sick and the National Enquirer tabloid is a primary purveyor of it.”
The travails surrounding the National Enquirer’s publisher David Pecker and his company American Media Inc. (AMI) and its tabloid, the National Enquirer, have become well known. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the tabloid acted as an unofficial arm of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, maintaining a near-complete flow of negative publicity aimed at Mr. Trump’s opponents. Verified reports note that Mr. Pecker routinely bought the rights to numerous stories potentially negative to Mr. Trump and never ran them, a modus operandi typically called “catch-and-kill.” This practice was the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2018. Mr. Pecker signed an agreement for witness immunity in exchange for his testimony before a federal grand jury empaneled in a larger federal investigation into Mr. Trump. In his agreement with prosecutors, Mr. Pecker acknowledged paying $150,000 to “suppress” a story on Mr. Trump’s extramarital relationship to protect the then-presidential nominee.
In recent weeks, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and the publisher of the Washington Post, has alleged that confederates of AMI threatened to blackmail him before publishing salacious private stories involving Mr. Bezos. There are reports that Mr. Pecker and AMI are now subject to renewed prosecutorial scrutiny and possible criminal penalties for violating his plea agreement.
A copy of Rep. Pascrell’s letter is available here, and the text of it is provided below.