American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker Reportedly Given Immunity in Cohen Case

Chief content officer Dylan Howard will also not be charged

David Pecker wants American Media to be able to focus on growing its other media brands. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, was reportedly given immunity in the Michael Cohen investigation.

Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to breaking campaign finance laws after he helped arrange a payment to a former Playboy model with Pecker. The arrangement called into question the legality of Pecker’s decision and what it could mean for American Media, Inc., which also publishes Us Weekly, Star, OK!, In Touch and Life & Style.

Though American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer, went unnamed in court documents, The Wall Street Journal reported four days before the 2016 presidential election that the publisher bought the rights to Karen McDougal’s story about having an affair with Trump and refused to publish it, a tactic known as “catch and kill.”

Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump’s and Cohen’s, though Pecker and Trump haven’t spoken in months, Vanity Fair reported.

Federal prosecutors have also suggested that Dylan Howard, American Media Inc.’s chief content officer and vice president, won’t be charged in the criminal investigation of Cohen, the WSJ reported, and that Pecker met with prosecutors to describe Cohen’s involvement in the hush-money deals.

In Manhattan federal court, Cohen admitted to his and Trump’s role in making payments to two women—McDougal and adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, more commonly known as Stormy Daniels—ahead of the 2016 presidential election to keep them from talking publicly about their alleged affairs with Trump.

While Cohen paid Clifford directly, he worked with American Media for the payout to McDougal.

A spokesman for American Media Inc. did not immediately return multiple requests by phone and email for comment.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.