Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos attends the Amazon Prime Video's Golden Globe Awards After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 6, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

American Media Inc, the parent company of supermarket tabloid National Enquirer which exposed the love affair of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has announced that the tabloid is up for sale.

In a statement, AMI said that a “decision has been taken to explore strategic options for its National Enquirer (US and UK editions), Globe and National Examiner brands which will result in their sale in the near future.”

Battle with Amazon boss

American Media is embroiled in a legal battle with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who accused it of “extortion and blackmail,” for carrying an article that highlighted his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former Los Angeles news anchor.

Bezos and ex-wife, novelist MacKenzie Bezos in early April announced that they are divorcing.

Implicitly referring to the boost from the Bezos scandal on the brands, American Media President and CEO, David J. Pecker said in a statement: “Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by different ownership.”

Pecker’s statement also added that it is “keenly focused on leveraging the popularity of our celebrity glossy, teen and active lifestyle brands while developing new and robust platforms to deliver significant revenue streams.”

Besides the Enquirer, American Media also owns less controversial titles like Us Weekly and Men's Journal.

Falling revenue and rising debt

In a report, The Washington Post said AMI is reeling under financial struggle abetted by the falling circulation of Enquirer and rising debt.

In the last five years, the circulation of Enquirer crashed. The sale of copies fell to less than 50 percent of what it was in 2014. It sold 516,000 copies in 2014 and the figure slumped to 218,000 in December 2018.

The Post also reported that the sale decision was also borne by the displeasure of hedge fund manager Anthony Melchiorre whose $4 billion Chatham Asset Management controls 80 percent stake in the AMI.

It said the hedge fund boss was “disgusted” with Enquirer’s reporting tactics.

Pecker’s Trump connection and legal troubles

Pecker is known as a staunch ally of President Donald Trump. According to reports, the tabloid allegedly paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 to take the exclusive rights to her claims that she had an extramarital affair with Trump.

But unlike the Jeff Bezos expose it never published the story in a practice known in media as “catch and kill” and kept the matter quiet. According to critics, that was an effort to tilt the 2016 presidential election result in favor of Trump.

Pecker's connection with President Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen landed AMI in a legal tangle last year.

Eventually, prosecutors signed a non-prosecution agreement with AMI during the Cohen probe and the company committed that it would provide cooperation in the future and stay out of trouble.

But the reports on Jeff Bezos love life changed all. Now prosecutors are examining the circumstances in which Enquirer did the coverage and whether that involved a breach of AMI’s deal with the prosecutors.