|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2007)|
|Editor in Chief||Tony Frost|
|Company||American Media, Inc.|
|Based in||Boca Raton, Florida|
The National Enquirer (also commonly known as the Enquirer) is an American supermarket tabloid now published by American Media Inc (AMI). Founded in 1926, the tabloid has gone through a variety of changes over the years.
The Enquirer openly acknowledges 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 information. The informants had been paid a large sum for the story.
The tabloid has struggled with declining circulation figures because of competition from glossy tabloid publications. As of 2013, the National Enquirer sells for $3.99 on newsstands in the United States. Subscription rates in 2010 were $1.90 per issue for 52 issues, and $2.40 for 26.
1926 – 1990s
In 1926, William Griffin, a protégé of William Randolph Hearst, founded the paper as The New York Evening Enquirer, a Sunday afternoon broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout New York City, using money lent to Griffin by Hearst. As partial payment of his loan, Hearst asked Griffin 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. During the 1930s and 1940s, it became a voice for isolationism and pro-fascist propaganda. The paper was indicted along with Griffin under the Smith Act for sedition by a grand jury in 1942 for subverting the morale of US troops via to Griffin's editorials against US military involvement in World War II. The charges were later dropped.
By 1952 the paper’s circulation had fallen to 17,000 copies a week and it was purchased by Generoso Pope Jr., the son of the founder of Il Progresso, New York's Italian language daily newspaper. It has been alleged that Mafia boss Frank Costello provided Pope the money for the purchase in exchange for the Enquirer's promise to list lottery numbers and to refrain from all mention of Mafia activities.
In 1953, Pope revamped the format from a broadsheet to a sensationalist 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. In 1957, Pope changed the name of the newspaper to The National Enquirer and changed its scope to national stories of sex and scandal. Pope worked tirelessly in the 1950s and 1960s to increase the circulation and broaden the tabloid's appeal. In the late 1950s and through most of the 1960s, 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 one million.
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 UFOs.
In 1971, Pope moved the headquarters from New York to Lantana, Florida. In 1989, it relocated south again; but this time only 15 miles to Boca Raton, Florida. In 1974, The National Enquirer began running Bill Hoest's Bumper Snickers, a cartoon series about cars and drivers, collected by Signet into a paperback reprint two years later.
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.
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).
Sarah Palin story
The National Enquirer claimed to have an exclusive account of Bristol Palin's pregnancy. Bristol is the daughter of Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and former Republican nominee for Vice President:
...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 was 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.
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. 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." 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. 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
In 2010 there was some speculation that the Enquirer might receive a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation of Edwards. The San Francisco Examiner wrote, "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."
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 person to die as a result 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.
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 titled: "AMERICAN Media head honcho David Pecker is off his Cipro."
The murder of Ennis Cosby
Columnist Mike Walker, in an interview with the UK newspaper Metro, stated, "The OJ Simpson trial – the New York Times referred to us as the bible of the case – The Hugh Rodham/Clinton pardon scandal, Jesse Jackson's love child and, of course, we solved the murder of Bill Cosby's son. The LA police chief had to get up at a press conference and say: 'We have just arrested a suspect for the murder of Ennis Cosby going on information we are very confident about and this is in great part due to help from the National Enquirer.' I was on the phone in a heartbeat to my editor to find out how we got them to say that. Turns out it was 'either say it or we will not lead you to where the gun is hidden in the woods wrapped in the famous knitted cap'."
Notable 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 reckless disregard for the truth, 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 the 1990s, salacious details of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair were first made public by the Enquirer. The Enquirer additionally scooped other media outlets during the O. J. Simpson murder trial: 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 two photos showing Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes. In 2001, the Enquirer uncovered that the Rev. Jesse Jackson had an illegitimate child.
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. 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'."
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.
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. As of March 2014[update], visitors from the UK, New Zealand and Ireland visitors are still unable to view the website, instead being presented with a page reading 'The content of this website is not available in your area.' 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 January 2009, the Enquirer ran a story claiming that pop star Michael Jackson was gravely ill and had "six months to live." 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, just before Tiger Woods' auto accident near his Florida home, the Enquirer was the first to allege that he was having an extramarital affair. Shortly after this report, several other women came forward in other publications alleging affairs with Woods, who 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.
In February 2011 the Enquirer published a story claiming that Steve Jobs had only six weeks to live because of cancer. Jobs died October 5 of that year, more than 7 months after the reports.
In February 2012 the Enquirer published a photo of Whitney Houston in an open casket on its front page. The previous week, it had posted an article showing her having collapsed from a cocaine and alcohol binge during her world tour and that she only has five years to live. two days after she was found dead in her room.
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 according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations remain over 1 million today. Perel later moved on to oversee the relaunch of the gossip website Radar Online, and was replaced as editor-in-chief by Tony Frost.
On August 30, 1999, a television spin-off of the supermarket tabloid was entitled National Enquirer TV and was produced by MGM Television. The series was renamed National Enquirer's Uncovered in season 2 and was cancelled on July 6, 2001.
"Inquiring minds want to know" catchphrase
During the 1980s the tabloid's slogan in radio and TV ads was "Inquiring minds want to know." Someone wanting the truth about an issue appends the slogan to their demand as a catchphrase. In the song "Midnight Star" from his album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, "Weird Al" Yankovic uses the phrase during the song's outro.
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- [dead link]
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- Official website (not accessible everywhere)