As I was waiting in line at a drug store the other day my eyes were drawn to the magazine stand. To my surprise there at the top of the stand was the National Enquirer. I thought that old controversial tabloid had went out of business years ago. But the rag is still steaming off the presses. I guess certain people like to be entertained by reading made-up stories about the rich and famous.
A reliable source this tabloid is not. Funny, it is that. The Enquirer is one step above Weekly World News, the WWN writes about women having Bigfoot’s babies. The Enquirer doesn’t go that far, but as the headlines below demonstrate, it does go far. It did report with a straight face that Jack Black was pregnant. Escapism in a very harmless way I suppose.
I always had my doubts about Doctor Phil.
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.
Cover from the 1960’s
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 Generoso Pope, 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 in 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.
The Enquirer must have secret agents in the heart of the medical establishment, as they always seem to know about the impending demise of celebrities.