Ron Burkle
Ron Burkle

Ron Burkle, a Democratic donor whose activities have included hosting fundraisers for Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as helping to fund the startup of Al Gore’s Current TV, is in the midst of talks to buy the National Enquirer from Amercan Media, Inc., according to a report in the New York Times.

The Times piece cited sources that said while American Media and Burkle are deep in their negotiations, it is still possible the deal could fall apart. (Update: A Thursday afternoon New York Post report says that Burkle's reps deny he is negotiating for the paper.)

The sale, if it does happen, would likely not be welcomed by president Trump, a friend of AMI CEO David Pecker and a big fan of the supermarket staple. Trump Tweeted in 2016 that “you can’t knock National Enquirer” and a January 2019 Tweet said that the Enquirer’s reporting was “far more accurate” than that of the Washington Post.

The principal owner of American Media, Chatham Asset Management, had encouraged Pecker to seek a buyer for the paper after it became the object of Federal investigators. The investigation centered on the “catch and kill” operation surrounding a story from former Playboy model Karen McDougal, in which she claimed to have had a sexual affair with Trump. After purchasing the story for $150,000, the Enquirer did not publish it.

Burkle, who began building his fortune by buying and then flipping undervalued grocery stores, founded private equity firm Yucipa Companies, which invests in retail, manufacturing and distribution companies, in 1986. He is also part owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.