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Michael Sanchez Twitter

Okay, Wonkers, grab those bonbons and settle in for your stories. It must be sweeps week, since we've got the Trash Twins and Jeff Bezos's Wandering Dick back in the rotation.

Back in February, The Daily Beast confirmed that Michael Sanchez was the National Enquirer's source for the leaked texts between Jeff Bezos and his sister Lauren Sanchez. You know, just in case anyone failed to work that out when Elkan Abramowitz, the lawyer for the magazine's parent company American Media (AMI), went on television and announced that the source was "well known to both Mr. Bezos and Miss Sanchez." Now The Wall Street Journal has gotten details of the contract, confirming that Sanchez did indeed sell a photo of his own sister's pink bits for $200,000. Stay classy, bro, we know you will!


Michael Sanchez Twitter

The deal was explicitly NOT a catch and kill, and Sanchez was free to keep the cash and re-sell the stolen texts and photos if the Enquirer failed to publish them in 30 days. Which is bloody convenient for him, since the magazine's regular practice was to pay sources only if and when the stories actually ran.

In light of the recently concluded government investigation, Mr. Stracher, the general counsel, inserted an unusual provision into the Oct. 26 contract with Mr. Sanchez to make it clear the deal wasn't a "catch and kill," those people said.

If American Media didn't publish anything within about a month's time, Mr. Sanchez could sell the information to another outlet and keep the money, they said. The provision stemmed from concern by American Media employees that Mr. Pecker would buy the story and suppress it because of his relationship with [talent agent Ari] Emanuel, whose partner is married to Ms. Sanchez, said some of those people.

Let's accept as fact for the moment that Pecker spent months negotiating to buy up stories from Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, and then backed out of the Daniels deal because his lawyers told him it might constitute an illegal campaign contribution, but was somehow out of the loop on negotiations to buy up the Bezos pictures. The magazine was planning a big special issue, but Pecker was too busy combing his pornstache to concern himself with the pesky details. And while he wasn't looking, his own employees, in mortal fear of federal prosecutors, cornered him into printing a story harmful to Donald Trump's enemies because they worried that not printing it would look like a political favor for ... Ari Emanuel.

UH HUH.

Well, the Journal has reliable sources, we guess. And those sources say that on November 7, Pecker invited his general counsel Cameron Stracher to lunch in a public place, where he screamed and cursed at him for concealing the upfront payment to Michael Sanchez, of which he had no prior knowledge.

The Wall Street Journal couldn't determine whether anyone at American Media briefed Mr. Pecker on the contract's specifics before it completed the deal with Mr. Sanchez. People close to Mr. Pecker said he wasn't aware the payment was made upfront and felt as if was being forced to run the story.

American Media paid Mr. Sanchez about a week after the lunch, said people familiar with the deal.

Look, far be it from this little recipe and mommyblog to impose linear time constraints on an august publication such as the Wall Street Journal, but in point of fact, the deal was not "completed" before the lunch, and Pecker could presumably have refused to go through with it if he didn't like the terms. But he did go through with it, and then the magazine sat on the story for exactly as long as it took to get their massive debt refinanced by venture capital firm Chatham Asset Management.

That $400 million deal went through on January 3, and on January 7, Bezos and Lauren Sanchez got notes from AMI's chief content officer Dylan Howard, aka Pecker's Little Viper, reading, "I write to request an interview with you about your love affair." Two days later, Bezos tweeted out that he and his wife McKenzie were separating, which "enraged" Howard by ruining his beautiful scoop. At which point the money guys at Chatham became, if not enraged, extremely uncomfortable that the idiots they'd just handed $400 million to were picking a fight with the one guy in the world whose pockets were deep enough to sustain a protracted legal battle. The WSJ reports:

Amid reports on alleged links between the Enquirer story and Mr. Pecker's actions on behalf of Mr. Trump during the 2016 election, American Media's financial backers at Chatham Asset Management—who had been unhappy about the Bezos coverage—conveyed their displeasure and pressured Mr. Pecker to resolve the matter, said people familiar with the communications. Mr. Pecker pressured his staff to do the same.

Which may or may not account for the arguably extortionate letter Howard sent to Bezos on January 13, offering not to publish the pictures of Bezos's "semi-erect manhood" if Bezos would call off his investigation of AMI's links to Saudi Arabia and announce that the publication of his stolen texts was "not political." Except instead of folding, Bezos called their bluff, and the rest is history.

You already know what happened next, so instead of going back over that all again, let's just make a few observations. If we were, say, David Pecker, we would be absolutely delighted with this Journal article. Because if Pecker had nothing to do with the Sanchez negotiations, then he can't be accused of having published Bezos's texts as a gift to Donald Trump. And it can't have been a favor to the Saudis, who were furious at Bezos for "allowing" the Washington Post to write all those mean stories about Jamal Khashoggi getting bonesawed to death, because Pecker had nothing to do with it. And while we're on the subject, hey Mister Venture Capitalist, it was those pesky underlings who made poor David Pecker publish that story embroiling the magazine in yet another controversy. And the prosecutors at SDNY should know that David Pecker would never do anything to jeopardize his plea agreement, under which he promised not to use the magazine for political dirty work. It was all the fault of that dastardly lawyer Cameron Stracher, who coincidentally quitfired himself at lunch and had his key card deactivated before he could get back to the office to clean out his desk. So if he tells a different story, well, he's just a disgruntled former employee with an axe to grind. Anyway, the important thing here is that nobody should be mad at David Pecker because he pocketed $400 million and steered the magazine into a legal and political hellhole from which they'll never escape. Because he was totally out of the loop at his own magazine, 'kay?

MIGHTY FUCKIN' CONVENIENT, AIN'T IT?

[WSJ / WaPo]

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