Former National Enquirer editor: David Pecker 'may end up doing time'

A former National Enquirer editor said Friday that he believes publisher David Pecker "may end up doing time."

"I think there’s a very strong chance that David Pecker may end up doing time," Jerry George, the Enquirer’s former Los Angeles bureau chief, said on CNN’s "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"It’s looking less and less like yellow journalism and more like organized crime," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

American Media Inc. (AMI), the parent company of the National Enquirer, is facing new legal questions after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused it of extortion and blackmail this week.

Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, said that AMI threatened to release intimate photos of him unless he dropped an investigation into the tabloid.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what [AMI] sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," Bezos wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

Bezos wrote the post following a story in the Enquirer that included text messages between him and a woman with whom he was having an affair. Bezos then began an investigation into how the Enquirer obtained his messages.

AMI said in a statement Friday that it believes it "acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos."

Last year, AMI agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York after it admitted to paying former playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 "in concert with" President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE's campaign “to stop her from publishing information about an alleged affair with the then-candidate."

Pecker, who is chairman and CEO of AMI, is a longtime friend of Trump's.

That cooperation deal could be in jeopardy if AMI is found to have committed a crime, because it stated that AMI "shall commit no crimes whatsoever” for three years or it would be "subject to prosecution for any federal criminal violation of which this office has knowledge."

Prosecutors are investigating whether the recent allegations against AMI will create legal issues for the company, sources told Bloomberg News on Friday.