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National Enquirer for sale as tabloid feels heat from its own scandals

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Owner American Media Inc says it is looking at "strategic options" for the week`ly.

Washington

THE owner of the National Enquirer said on Wednesday it was considering selling the tabloid, which has admitted to paying hush money to help US President Donald Trump get elected and been accused of attempting to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

American Media Inc (AMI) said in a statement it is looking at "strategic options" for the weekly, as well as for the Globe and the National Examiner brands. "We feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership," the company said.

Last year, AMI cooperated with federal prosecutors to avoid charges and admitted it made a US$150,000 hush-money payment to a former Playboy magazine model to prevent her from going public ahead of the 2016 election with claims that she had an affair with Mr Trump. The incident involved a practice called "catch and kill" in which the tabloid bought rights to a story but never published the potentially damaging information.

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David Pecker, chief executive of American Media, has been a longtime Trump ally and has described the president as a "personal friend". Mr Trump and his lawyers have argued the payments were a personal matter unrelated to the election.

More recently, the National Enquirer has been embroiled in a battle with Mr Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com Inc and also the owner of the Washington Post. The world's richest man has accused the publication of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing intimate photos. AMI has defended its reporting on Mr Bezos' affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor.

Earlier in April, Mr Bezos reached a divorce settlement with his wife MacKenzie that made her the world's third-richest woman while allowing him to retain voting control of his entire stake in Amazon. REUTERS