A few months ago, regular readers might recall, financial firm Chatham Asset Management threatened to sue Pando for $300m over our investigation into their dealings with the New Jersey State Investment Council.
There’s a whole lot of bizarreness around the threat, aside from the fact that it’s entirely without merit: A naked attempt to scare off any reporters who might decide to investigate Chatham’s relationship with the Chris Christie administration.
I’ve already written about the bizarre seven page letter sent to us Chatham’s lawyer — an entertainment specialist called Marty “Mad Dog” Singer — which attempted to portray our journalism as reckless and the reporter of our piece, David Sirota, as “unhinged”. (In case you were wondering, aside from Chatham Asset Management, Mr Singer’s other clients include Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean Claude Van Damme.)
Perhaps the weirdest twist, though, was the appearance, just hours before Singer’s legal threat landed, of a bizarre article in the National Enquirer, entitled “EXCLUSIVE! CHRIS CHRISTIE’s WHITE HOUSE DREAM ALIVE!”
The article — apparently the first and only pro-Christie article in the Enquirer archives (following a string of hit pieces) — insisted that “Embattled Governor Chris Christie will recover from [Bridgegate] and play a major role in the 2016 race for the White House.”
The Enquirer then spent six whole paragraphs attacking Pando’s reporting, and David Sirota personally, including describing him as “a crazy person” and repeating many of the same baseless smears on his professionalism as Chatham’s attorney had included in his letter. Finally, it attempted to dismiss our reporting, insisting that no violation of New Jersey investment rules had occurred:
The ENQUIRER has since learned that the contract was pending and that no funds had been transferred by the New Jersey State Investment Council and a spokesperson for New Jersey’s Treasury Department said that the donation from the hedge fund’s principal and his wife to the Republican National Committee was not in violation of Treasury rules.
Why on earth, we wondered, would the National Enquirer suddenly decide to pen an unbylined hit piece on Pando and Sirota, especially one that’s at odds with all their previous reporting on Christie. Also, how did the Enquirer’s piece happen to contain such similar language to Chatham’s legal letter which arrived right afterwards? Is the Enquirer somehow in Chatham’s debt?
As it turns out, they are. Quite a lot of debt.
According to media reports last week, the Enquirer’s owner, American Media Inc, is looking for a buyer to help settle its $513m in debts. Amongst the most likely buyers is one of the company’s major creditors.
Says The Deal:
Under the deal, the [buyers] would get 100% of American Media’s equity for $2 million in cash and the assumption of $513 million in debt, in addition to a pledge to make sure the company has at least $10 million in liquidity for the next 12 months.