Radio Atlantic: Pecker Pics and Tabloid Tricks

Jeffrey Toobin helps Alex Wagner make sense of the National Enquirer: its strange history, its devotion to Donald Trump, and why it’s at war with the world’s richest man.

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The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently accused the National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail” over private photos of him obtained by the tabloid. In a Medium post, Bezos shared emails from the Enquirer threatening to publish the photos unless he accedes to its demands. How did a celebrity magazine get into the rough and tumble world of extortion?

On this week’s Radio Atlantic, Alex Wagner is joined by Jeffrey Toobin, a New Yorker staff writer and CNN’s chief legal analyst. He shares insights from his 2017 profile of the man who runs the tabloid. How did the National Enquirer become what it is today? Why does it pay to silence stories about Donald Trump? And why is it at war with Bezos?

Listen for:

  • The unexpected history of the tabloid and what Toobin learned from spending time with David Pecker, the CEO of the Enquirer’s parent company
  • An episode 10 years ago just like l’affaire Bezos—except the celebrity subject of the Enquirer’s photos did as the tabloid asked
  • How the Enquirer’s actions could impact journalism. As Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel for Barack Obama, put it in The Atlantic: Can freedom of the press survive David Pecker?