Pecker Airs 'Catch and Kill' Stories About Other Celebrities

Meanwhile, prosecutors accuse Trump of more violations of gag order
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2024 8:08 AM CDT
Pecker Airs 'Catch and Kill' Stories About Arnold, Tiger
David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, speaks at an event, Jan. 31, 2014 in New York.   (Marion Curtis via AP, File)

A lot of celebrity dirt was aired during day seven of Donald Trump's hush-money trial, only some of that being Trump's own. Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified Thursday that Trump was nervous about the publication holding boxes of materials related to "catch and kill" stories about him and that Trump fixer Michael Cohen called "constantly" in September 2016, two months before the election, to request the boxes be turned over to him. Pecker said Cohen told him if Trump "got hit by a bus or the company was sold, he did not want someone else to potentially publish those stories," per NBC News. But more came out about the National Enquirer's role in concealing negative stories about other celebrities.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: Pecker said he agreed not to publish negative stories about the then-aspiring governor of California in exchange for Schwarzenegger's approval of a "giant acquisition," per NBC. Pecker said he spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" suppressing stories about Schwarzenegger, per the New York Post. According to the New York Times, Pecker's company, American Media Inc., paid $20,000 to a mistress and $2,000 to a man with video of Schwarzenegger "dancing lewdly."
  • Tiger Woods: Pecker said he purchased photos of Woods meeting a woman in a Florida parking lot in 2007, then used them as leverage to get the golf star to appear on the cover of Men's Fitness, which Pecker also published, per the Post.
  • Mark Wahlberg, Rahm Emanuel: Pecker said Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, brother of the current US ambassador to Japan, enlisted his help to suppress a story about Rahm having an alleged affair as he eyed a run for Chicago mayor, as well as negative stories about actor Mark Wahlberg, per NBC.

As for Trump, Pecker described paying off model Karen McDougal and a Trump building doorman who claimed Trump had an illegitimate child, knowing his actions would influence the 2016 election. When it was requested that he also pay off Stormy Daniels, who claimed an affair with Trump, Pecker declined. "We already paid $30,000 to the doorman. We paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal, and I am not a bank," he testified. He reportedly then contacted Cohen to work out a deal, per the Post. This all came out after prosecutors accused Trump of violating a gag order at least four times in three days, including Thursday, when he allegedly warned Pecker, "I have a platform and I will use it. Be nice," per NBC. A hearing on those allegations is set for next week. Pecker returns to the stand Friday. (More Trump hush-money trial stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.