David Pecker’s well-tested strategy

Back when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for the governor of California in 2003, Pecker’s media empire, which also includes The Star and the Weekly World News, took a similar tack, Ann Louise Bardach explained in Los Angeles magazine in 2004.

Accusations of  Schwarzenegger’s extramarital affairs had been fodder for tabloids in the past. As Schwarzenegger entered the race, Pecker commissioned “a series of brown-nosing stories on Arnold,” one former staffer told Bardach. In August, The Star ran a  story “headlined ‘Vote Schwarzenegger!’ and accompanied by a half-dozen flattering snapshots,” she writes:

No more stories about Arnold’s two-hour weekly sessions with his hair colorist to keep the gray out of his hair and eyebrows. No more unflattering photos of his taut face. No more telephoto shots of Arnold and Maria looking less than fit or arguing on a street corner. Instead, The Star followed up with another tribute to “Arnold and Maria’s Family Life” and “Arnold: A New American Patriot,” in which he was likened to George Washington. In September 2003, AMI published a 120-page glossy special edition titled Arnold, the American Dream. It was sold on newsstands for $4.95, with the cover line “Camelot’s Future.” To complete the coronation, Weekly World News ran its own “exclusive”—“Alien Backs Arnold for Governor.”

AMI, aiming to suppress an embarrassing video, paid $2,000 in 2003 for the rights to a tape showing Schwarzenegger “grabbing a scantily clad woman and making other sexually suggestive gestures,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2005. At the time, Pecker was negotiating with Schwarzenegger to become executive editor of two fitness magazines AMI owned, for which he would receive a portion of the advertising revenue. The former bodybuilding champion signed the deal two days before he sworn into office. (Schwarzenegger cancelled his contract with AMI after it became public.)

In 2013, the former governor renewed his relationship with AMI, becoming executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex once again.

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