I meant to write last week about the sale of Time Inc to Meredith Corporation. I mentioned this in mid-November when The New York Times first reported on the negotiations and that the Koch brothers were helping to finance the deal with a $650 million infusion. The deal went through the weekend before last. And then Harry and Meghan happened. And then Matt Lauer happened. But even though I’m a week late on this, it goes well with another magazine-related situation that just broke yesterday.
First though, to round out the Time Inc story, Meredith Corporation insists that Koch Equity Development will not have a seat on their board and “will have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations”. Like it’s just a business decision. Pause. Another pause.
Time Inc, of course, includes PEOPLE Magazine. As I said last time, maybe in the short term you won’t see much change. But going forward, how will that impact celebrity coverage, especially celebrities with causes and values that are diametrically opposed to Koch interests? Again, the best example here is someone like Leonardo DiCaprio who has specifically called out the Kochs in his climate change documentary, Before The Flood. And what about Sports Illustrated, also a Time Inc property? Sports Illustrated just honoured Colin Kaepernick last night. The Koch brothers have a complicated relationship with civil rights and race. And, just today, TIME Magazine released its Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers, the men and women who’ve come forward to call out predators and sexual harassers. After Harvey Weinstein, guess whose name appears the most times? That would be Donald Trump. Last week, a new report was released that linked the Kochs to almost four dozen Trump administration officials.
Speaking of Harvey and Donald though, and the change in the gossip landscape, as you know, US Weekly was acquired earlier this year by American Media Inc, the company that also publishes The National Enquirer, Star Magazine, and Radar Online. Dylan Howard, who oversees those publications and outlets, was accused yesterday of sexual misconduct. Last month, in his piece of Harvey Weinstein’s “army of spies”, Ronan Farrow wrote in The New Yorker about Dylan’s relationship with Harvey, and how he may have allegedly helped Harvey’s efforts to discredit and silence his accusers. Just yesterday, The New York Times reported on Harvey Weinstein’s “complicity machine”, noting that:
“(Weinstein) was so close to David J. Pecker, the chief executive of American Media Inc., which owns The Enquirer, that he was known in the tabloid industry as an untouchable “F.O.P.,” or “friend of Pecker.” That status was shared by a chosen few, including President Trump.”
In response to the allegations, AMI said that Dylan Howard “has the full support of AMI and its executives.” It said since Howard was rehired, “he has continued to have the respect of his peers and colleagues.”
Well that’s reassuring.
Two years ago, PEOPLE and US Weekly were at the top of the tabloid hierarchy. How will new ownership, in both cases, change the gossip landscape? And since gossip is the lens through which we process our social values and behaviours, what will we be looking at in another two years?
Yours in gossip,