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The National Enquirer
Editor in Chief David Perel
Categories Tabloid
Frequency Weekly
Circulation 1,033,271 per week[1]
(within the U.S.)
First issue 1926
Company American Media, Inc.
Country  United States
Language English
Website http://www.nationalenquirer.com
ISSN 1056-3482

The National Enquirer (also commonly known as the Enquirer) is an American supermarket tabloid now published by American Media Inc (AMI). Founded in 1926[2], the tabloid has gone through a variety of changes over the years, and is currently well-known for exaggerating, as well as fabricating information in its articles focusing on celebrity news, gossip, and crime in order to sell its newspapers.

The Enquirer makes no secret of the fact that it will pay sources for tips, a practice generally frowned upon by the mainstream press. At least one prominent story, connected to the Elizabeth Smart case, had to be retracted after it was revealed that two informants had fabricated false information. The informants had been paid a large sum for the story.

In recent years it has sought to establish a reputation for reliable journalism and had some success, often scooping other media on the O.J. Simpson and Monica Lewinsky stories[citation needed]. However, the tabloid has struggled with declining circulation figures due to competition from glossy tabloid publications which is why American Media now also owns former competitor, The Star.

Contents

Early history

Founded in 1926 as The New York Evening Enquirer, Sunday afternoon newspaper distributed throughout the city. It was founded by anti-Semite William Griffin in 1926 and became a voice for isolationism and fascist propaganda in the 1930s and 1940s.[3] Griffin was a protege of William Randolph Hearst who lent him money for the venture. As partial payment of his loan, Hearst asked to use the Enquirer as a proving ground for new ideas. Hearst took the ideas that worked in his successful publications; the less successful ideas stayed with the Enquirer, and as a result the Enquirer's sales never soared. The paper was indicted along with Griffin for sedition by a grand jury in 1942 for subverting the morale of US troops due to Griffin's editorials against US military involvement in World War II. The charges were later dropped.[4] In 1952 the paper’s circulation fell to 17,000 copies a week and it was purchased by Generoso Pope Jr., allegedly with funds provided by Mafia boss Frank Costello. It has also been alleged that Costello provided the money in exchange for the Enquirer's promise to list lottery numbers and to refrain from all mention of Mafia activities.[5]

In 1953, Pope revamped the format from a broadsheet to a sensationlist tabloid focusing on sex and violence. The paper's editorial content became so salacious that Griffin was forced by the Mayor to resign from the city's Board of Higher Education in 1954.[4] In 1957, Pope changed the name of the newspaper to the The National Enquirer and changed its scope to national stories of sex and scandal.[4] Pope worked tirelessly in the 1950s and 1960s to increase the circulation and broaden the tabloid's appeal. In the late 50s and through most of the 60s, the Enquirer was known for its gory and unsettling headlines and stories such as: "I Cut Out Her Heart and Stomped On It" (Sept. 8, 1963) and "Mom Boiled Her Baby And Ate Her" (1962). At this time the paper was sold on newsstands and drugstores only. Pope stated he got the idea for the format and these gory stories from seeing people congregate around auto accidents. By 1966 circulation had risen to 1 million.[4]

Pope pioneered the idea of selling magazines at supermarket checkouts. In order to get into the supermarkets, Pope completely changed the format of the paper in late 1967 by dropping all the gore and violence and instead focusing on more benign topics like celebrities, the occult and UFO's.

In 1971, Pope moved the headquarters from New York to Lantana, Florida. It later relocated south again; but this time only 15 miles to Boca Raton, Florida. During most of the 1970s and 1980s, The National Enquirer sponsored the placement of the largest decorated Christmas Tree in the world at its Lantana headquarters in what became an annual tradition. A tree was shipped in mid-autumn from the Pacific Northwest by rail and off-loaded by crane onto the adjacent Enquirer property. Every night during the Christmas season, thousands of visitors would come to see the tree. This would grow into one of south Florida's most celebrated and spectacular events. Although tremendously expensive, this was Pope's "Pet Project" and his "Christmas present" to the local community. The tradition passed into history with his death in 1988.[6]

By the time of Pope's death, The National Enquirer empire included Weekly World News, and Distribution Services, Inc. The surviving owners, including Pope's widow, Lois, sold the company to a partnership of MacFadden Publishing and Boston Ventures for $412 million. Soon after, the company bought the Enquirer's main competition, The Star, from Rupert Murdoch. The combined interests were controlled by a newly formed company American Media Inc (AMI).

Recent history

Sarah Palin story

The National Enquirer claimed to have an exclusive account of Bristol Palin's pregnancy. She is the daughter of Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and former Republican nominee for Vice President:[7]

...The ultra-conservative governor's announcement about her daughter's pregnancy came hours after The Enquirer informed her representatives and family members of Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol's child, that we were aware of the pregnancy and were going to break the news. In a preemptive strike Palin released the news, creating political shockwaves...

The National Enquirer is also preparing to publish a story (in the September 15, 2008 issue) alleging that Palin had an affair with her husband's business partner, Brad Hanson.[8]

Answering John McCain's threat of a law suit, a spokesman for the paper, in a statement to The Huffington Post, declared[8]:

The National Enquirer's coverage of a vicious war within Sarah Palin's extended family includes several newsworthy revelations, including the resulting incredible charge of an affair plus details of family strife when the Governor's daughter revealed her pregnancy. Following our John Edwards' exclusives, our political reporting has obviously proven to be more detail-oriented than the McCain campaign's vetting process. Despite the McCain camp's attempts to control press coverage they find unfavorable, The Enquirer will continue to pursue news on both sides of the political spectrum.

John Edwards story

In August 2008, in an interview with ABC News, former Presidential candidate John Edwards admitted having an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter but denied fathering her child.[9]. Edwards had earlier made false denials of the affair which was first reported on in the Enquirer. In October 2007, the Enquirer ran a story about the 2006 affair with Hunter, a filmmaker hired by the Edwards political team, although Edwards dismissed the story as "completely untrue, ridiculous" and "false."[10] In July 2008, the Enquirer ran an article claiming to have caught the former North Carolina Senator visiting Hunter, and their alleged illegitimate child at a hotel in Los Angeles.[11] The article did not include any corroborating photos. Fox News interviewed an unnamed security guard who claimed to have witnessed a confrontation between Edwards and the Enquirer staff members[12]

In 2010 there was some speculation that the Enquirer might receive a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation of Edwards. Wrote the San Francisco Examiner, "It galls most mainstream newspaper editors that a tawdry tabloid could be considered for their most vaunted prize. It's like nominating a porn flick for an Oscar."[13]

Anthrax attack

A photo editor, Bob Stevens, of The National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, received a poisonous letter with anthrax spores, in Boca Raton, Florida and was the first to die of the 2001 anthrax attacks after he opened the envelope. The entire AMI office complex in Boca Raton was closed, and remained fenced off for two years after the attack; AMI moved its headquarters to another building in Boca Raton.[14]

During the same episode, another AMI staffer, Ernesto Blanco, was hospitalized with symptoms of exposure to anthrax bacteria. "The 73-year-old mailroom worker nearly died of inhalation anthrax, but has since recovered," the New York Post reported Nov. 9, 2001 in an article no longer online. That article was titled: "AMERICAN Media head honcho David Pecker is off his Cipro."

Noted stories and lawsuits

In 1981, actress Carol Burnett won a judgment against the Enquirer after it claimed she had been seen drunk in public at a restaurant with Henry Kissinger in attendance. The fact that both of her parents suffered from alcoholism made this a particularly sensitive issue to Burnett. Under U.S. law, in order to be guilty of libel against a public figure such as Burnett, a publication must be shown to have knowingly or with "malice aforethought" disseminated facts that were false and defamatory, making Burnett's successful suit unusual in the world of American tabloid journalism. The former longtime chief editor Iain Calder in his book The Untold Story, asserted that afterwards, while under his leadership, the Enquirer worked hard to check the reliability of its facts and its sources.

For a time the Enquirer sought recognition for journalistic research and news scoops. In 2001, the Enquirer uncovered that the Rev. Jesse Jackson had an illegitimate child. Salacious details of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair were first made public by the Enquirer. The Enquirer was regarded by some as having the best media coverage of the O. J. Simpson murder trial. For example, when a distinctive footprint from a Bruno Magli shoe was found at the crime scene, Simpson vehemently denied owning such a shoe. The Enquirer, however, published a photo by a freelance photographer showing Simpson in the shoes, then dug up another one again showing him in such a pair.[15]

Controversy over false content arose again for the Enquirer when a 2002 article alleged that male members of the family of kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart were involved in what the article termed a "gay sex ring." Subsequently, two reporters from the Salt Lake Tribune were fired after it was learned that they had been paid $20,000 for the story, which they had fabricated.[16] The Enquirer threatened to sue the Salt Lake Tribune for making false and defamatory statements about the publication after an editorial had disclaimed the Tribune's involvement. The salacious details of the Smart story were retracted by the Enquirer, and a rare apology was issued to the Smart family. One of the fired reporters acknowledged that his behavior was unethical, but expressed surprise that the story had been taken seriously, stating, "When I dealt with the Enquirer, I never dreamed that I was accepting money for 'information'."[17]

The Enquirer settled a libel lawsuit with the wife of Gary Condit out of court in 2003,[18] lost a suit brought by Kate Hudson in 2006,[19] and has been or is currently being sued by a number of other public figures.[citation needed]

In September, 2005, the Enquirer stated that U.S. President George W. Bush was drinking and acting erratically.[20]

In 2006, the Enquirer was the first newspaper to reveal that O. J. Simpson had written a book, If I Did It. The story was immediately denied by Simpson's lawyer, but was confirmed by release of the book one month later.[21]

In early March 2007 the paper blocked access to its website for British and Irish readers because a story about the actress Cameron Diaz that they had published in 2005 and for which she received an apology had appeared on the site. The apology concerned a story it had run in 2005 entitled “Cameron Caught Cheating” which turned out to be false – an accompanying picture was just an innocent goodbye hug to a friend, not evidence of an affair. Although only 279 British web addresses had looked at the story, it was deemed to have therefore been published in the United Kingdom. British libel laws are more plaintiff friendly and it is not necessary to prove actual malice for the plaintiff to win.[22]. As of February 2010, UK and Irish visitors are still presented with a blank page reading 'Page unavailable/under construction' when visiting the website. The magazine continues to be sold in Irish supermarkets.

Also in March 2007, Tucker Chapman, son of Duane "Dog" Chapman, sold a tape to the Enquirer of his father disparaging his black girlfriend with the use of the word "nigger" in which the Enquirer paid Tucker an undisclosed amount. The A&E Network canceled Chapman's show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, pending an investigation. On February 21, 2008, A&E Network stated they would resume production of Dog the Bounty Hunter, and on May 14, 2008, announced it would return to TV on June 25, 2008.

In 2003, the Enquirer published a story claiming that Rush Limbaugh was addicted to painkillers. Law enforcement authorities in Florida later confirmed that Limbaugh was under investigation, and Limbaugh later admitted the addiction and checked himself into a drug rehabilitation facility.

In 2008, the Enquirer reported the marital troubles of Mel Gibson and Billy Joel, both of whom announced their divorces several months later.

In January 2009, the Enquirer ran a story claiming that pop star Michael Jackson was gravely ill and had "six months to live."[23] Just under six months later, in June 2009, Jackson went into cardiac arrest and died in Los Angeles. In September 2009, the Enquirer broke the story of Jackson's final resting place, Forest Lawn. Two months later, following Tiger Woods' auto accident just outside his Florida home, the Enquirer was the first to allege that the golf great was having an extramarital affair. Shortly after this report, several other women came forward in other publications alleging to have had affairs with Woods, and the golfer eventually admitted to having been unfaithful to his wife.

On January 19, 2010, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced that the Enquirer is eligible for consideration for the Pulitzer Prize in the categories of Investigative Journalism and National News Reporting. This change is primarily due to the Enquirer's breaking the story of John Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter.[24]

Editorial changes

In 1999 AMI was bought by a group fronted by publishing executive David Pecker. Funding was diverted from the Enquirer, once considered to be the company's principal publication, to The Star. Editor Steve Coz, who guided the paper through the Simpson case, was fired and replaced by David Perel, who had been the Editor in charge of breaking numerous stories on the Simpson coverage.

The Enquirer's circulation for a time fell below 1 million (from over 6 million at its height). AMI brought in around 20 British journalists in early 2005, headed by editor, Paul Field, a former executive at the British tabloid The Sun, and relocated the editorial offices to New York for an April 2005 relaunch. The move failed horribly and Field and virtually all the British journalists were fired after just a year. The company reappointed David Perel and announced the Enquirer offices would return to Boca Raton, Florida in May 2006. Circulation numbers then climbed to over 1 million readers again (and Pecker realized his mistake), and according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations remain over 1 million today. David Perel remains in charge.

"Enquiring minds want to know" catch phrase

During the 1980s the tabloid's slogan in radio and TV ads was "Enquiring minds want to know."[25] Someone wanting the truth about an issue appends the slogan to their demand as a catch phrase.[26]

References

  1. ^ "Average Total Paid & Verified Circulation for Top 100 ABC Magazines". http://www.magazine.org/CONSUMER_MARKETING/CIRC_TRENDS/26643.aspx. 
  2. ^ Los Angeles Magazine, September 1st, 2004
  3. ^ Under Cover, p. 246, by John Roy Carlson, (1943)
  4. ^ a b c d http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/EnquirerStar-Group-Inc-Company-History.html
  5. ^ MacIntyre, Ben, National Enquirer Said Launched By Mafia Money, November 11, 1999
  6. ^ "Flashback Blog: 'The Worlds Largest Decorated Christmas Tree'". Palm Beach Post. December 3, 2009. http://www.historicpalmbeach.com/flashback/2009/12/the-worlds-largest-decorated-christmas-tree. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  7. ^ "Palin War: Teen Prego Crisis". National Enquirer. http://www.nationalenquirer.com/sarah_palin_at_war_with_her_daughter_over_pregnancy_wedding/celebrity/65370. 
  8. ^ a b The National Enquirer Prepares to Print Story That Sarah Palin Had Affair
  9. ^ http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5441195&page=1
  10. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080808/ap_on_el_pr/edwards_affair_15
  11. ^ Sen. John Edwards caught with mistress and love chile!
  12. ^ Guard Confirms Late-Night Hotel Encounter Between Ex-Sen. John Edwards, Tabloid Reporters
  13. ^ Editors (February 21, 2010) "National Enquirer could get Pulitzer Prize for breaking John Edwards affair story." San Francisco Examiner.
  14. ^ Analysis of the Anthrax Attacks by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, Federation of American Scientists
  15. ^ Gleick, Elizabeth, "O.J. Feels the Heat", Time magazine, December 2, 1996, retrieved August 7, 2008
  16. ^ "Salt Lake Tribune fires reporters who sold Smart case information to tabloid" courttv.com 04/29/03. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  17. ^ "Tabloid targets Trib: Newsroom angry over $20,000 Enquirer deal", by Lucinda Dillon Kinkead, 04/29/2003. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  18. ^ "Carolyn Condit and National Enquirer settle suit" rcfp.org 07/11/03. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  19. ^ "Damages for Hudson over pictures" BBC News 07/20/2006. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  20. ^ Bush's booze crisis - Celebrity News | Gossip - National Enquirer
  21. ^ No Juice-y Book, Lawyer Says
  22. ^ "Plug pulled in UK over libel stance", FT.com (Financial Times) 03/14/2007. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  23. ^ http://www.nationalenquirer.com/enquirer_had_reported_jackson_had_months_to_live/celebrity/65997
  24. ^ [hhttp://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/national-enquirer-now-legit-pulitzer-prize-board/story?id=9887329 "National Enquirer Now Legit, According to Pulitzer Prize Board"], by Sheila Marikar and Russell Goldman, 02/19/2010. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  25. ^ 1982 National Enquirer TV commercial, retrieved 2009-02-02
  26. ^ Dave Wilton, Slang in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2002-11-01, retrieved 2009-02-02

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