The revelations and accusations made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week, that he was the target of blackmail—possibly politically driven—from National Enquirer head David Pecker and the tabloid’s publisher, American Media, Inc., has led to new insights into the strange closed-door dealings of the media publisher. Based on new information, a March 2018 AMI-produced magazine touting Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman is getting a fresh look. The glossy full-color magazine, titled The New Kingdom, featured an array of softball questions and glowing press for Salman.
The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Bykowicz and Lukas Alpert report they have sources who say American Media produced the magazine with the hope of ingratiating itself to the Saudi prince, who it was hoping would financially back it as it sought new media acquisitions.
The revelation that AMI told Trump’s Department of Justice that it indeed produced the magazine comes after AMI publicly denied any untoward Saudi involvement in the very specious propaganda love letter of a magazine. There is no coincidence in the timing, the magazine hitting shelves just aheads of Salman’s March 2018 visit to the United States. The magazine was sold at $13.50, a remarkably high price for any magazine. Many saw the 97-page, advertisement-free magazine as an effort to rehabilitate, and frankly cover up, some of the more frightening and authoritarian actions of the Saudi government under Salman.
The WSJ doesn’t go quite that far, reporting that its sources say the magazine was something AMI did on its own, with the only intention being to “kiss [Salman’s] ass when he came to visit in the hopes he’d invest in the company and it didn’t work.” This directly contradicts Pecker’s attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, who, when asked by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday whether or not this specific magazine was published in the hope of ingratiating the company with the Saudi royals, responded, “Not – not that I am aware of, and it was published – there were journalistic reasons for publishing it and had nothing to do with any of what we’re talking about.”
This is not the first time that the curious relationship between AMI media and the Saudis has come up. A few months ago, a former Enquirer editor suggested that AMI and the Saudis were connected to possibly covering up “criminal activity” on the part of the Trump and Kushner families. Pecker and the Enquirer have already admitted to helping squash scandalous Trump stories by buying out the claimants in those stories, which amounts to very dubious hush-money payouts.