Never underestimate the power of a supermarket tabloid cloth.
Even if you don’t really buy the magazine, it is always there – staring at you while standing in line to scan your groceries, following the stationary aisle, or being scattered around the desks at the doctor’s or hairdresser’s .
Few are as infamous as the National Enquirer, one of the most powerful print publications in the United States.
The weekly tabloid from New York has been in circulation for almost a century, with a well-known reputation for praising celebrity claims, bending – if not completely destroying – the facts and beating the reputation of the rich and famous with ease.
Actress Kate Hudson won a lawsuit against the magazine in 2006 after suggesting she had an eating disorder.
The magazine published a two-page story with the headline: “Goldie tells Kate: Eat Something and she Listens! – Ster confronts daughter with photos that show her painfully thin. ”
Carol Burnett took the tabloid press to justice in 1981 after being claimed to have been publicly drunk in a restaurant. It was a particularly sensitive issue for the actress, whose parents were both alcoholics.
In 2012, the magazine ran a controversial cover from Whitney Houston, lying in an open chest shortly after her death was made public – similar to the stunt it pulled after Elvis Presley’s death in 1977.
You get the picture.
But the magazine is now at the center of a growing scandal involving Donald Trump – one that could threaten his future as President of the United States.
THE TABLOIDE THAT WAS THE BEST FRIEND OF TRUMP
In recent years, Donald Trump has had a good friend in the Enquirer.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the magazine blew up the then Republican candidate as nothing less than a saint.
“The Real Donald Trump!” Declared a headline on the front page, with a radiant photo of the future president. The internal story was a positive fluff in which he explained his problems with the Obama’s and his previous relationships. Above was a photo of him with his third wife Melania Trump, with a smaller head: “The Future First Lady?”
In contrast, the magazine tore his Republican rival Ted Cruz to shreds, claiming that he had several affairs and that his father had ties with the murder of former President John F Kennedy.
Once Cruz was outside the presidential photo, the magazine intensified its focus on Hillary Clinton. There was no mercy.
“HILLARY: 6 MONTHS TO LIVE!” Shone a headline, with a photoshopped cover of Mrs. Clinton with sunken eyes, exaggerated lines of sight and no makeup.
“Failing health and a deadly thirst for power are driving Hillary Clinton to an early grave, the National Enquirer has learned in a bombing investigation,” the story began. “The desperate and worsening 67-year-old is not coming to the White House – because she will be dead in six months.”
“HILARY IN SEX-SCANDAL COVER-UP!” Shouted another cover.
A third had the simple heading “CORRUPT!” In large white letters against a red background, with a picture of ‘Crooked Hillary’ above, her arms stretched out in an orange shirt with prisoner.
The coverage of the Enquirer is relentless. No story is too exaggerated; the magazine associated Clinton with brain cancer, child prostitution, bribery and betrayal, apparently without hesitation.
“It was like a double blow,” said Ms. Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri to The New York Times. “They could have covered all of Trump’s crimes. But instead, they not only reported on that, but were also a pipeline from dark-net conspiracy theories to supermarket lines. ”
At the center of the magazine is David Pecker, the old chief executive of American Media Inc., the parent company.
Since the magazine has few subscribers and minimal ads, it relies on combining certain celebrities and expressions to sell itself. Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Dolly Parton and the Kennedys are all proven winning topics, as well as phrases like “six months to live” and “sad final days.”
But as far as Pecker was concerned, everything that was negative from a distance about Mr. Trump was off-limits.
In a 2017 feature film on the tabloid, The New Yorker described an editorial meeting in which someone suggested a story about the infamous video of Mr. Trump’s first overseas trip with his wife Melania.
The viral video showed how Mrs. Trump beat her husband’s hand while he tried to grab him on the red carpet.
See Melania Trump’s newest clumsy hand-held moment #MelaniaTrump does it again! pic.twitter.com/9HKTGUlecz– lafemmemerveilleuse (@largottes)
“I didn’t see that,” Pecker said in response to the suggestion.
The men in the room changed appearance. It was noted that there was online visual material that was seen by millions of people.
“I didn’t see that,” Pecker repeated, and that ended it.
The Times noted that Mr. Trump’s personal life – at least by his own brand name – embodied the magazine’s flesh and bones.
“The Enquirer is built to cover Mr. Trump’s wild ride,” he said. “If it had only survived its original mission – digging up dirt from the rich and famous, without concern for the rules of traditional journalism – it would have had a tabloid story of your life,” wrote the Times.
So why did Mr. Trump succeeded and instead the subject of non-stop gushy praise?
According to The New Yorker, Pecker and Mr. Trump have been friends for decades. Pecker was even present at the billionaire’s wedding with Melania in 2003.
The editor openly admitted that the gushing reporting of his gossip about Mr. Trump had a personal element. But he also said – similar to clever stories about Jennifer Aniston or the Brangelina dispute – it was ultimately a matter of giving people what they want.
“They voted for Trump,” Pecker said. “And 96 percent want him to be re-elected today. That is the correlation. These are white working people who like to see celebrities and want to see them – which is unusual, who would think these people love a billionaire? – the pulpit of the billionaire. They know him from fourteen seasons at The Apprentice as the boss, and they loved it when he fired those people and made fun of them. ”
According to a former Enquirer employee, Pecker idolized Mr. Trump. “David thought Donald was running on water,” the employee told the New Yorker. “Donald treated David like a little puppy. Donald liked being flattered and David thought Donald was the king. Both have similar management styles, similar attitudes, starting with absolute superiority to anyone. ”
They say you can’t put a prize on friendship, but apparently you can. According to the Times, a campaign with the same level of fame that the magazine presented to Mr. Trump would cost up to $ US3 million a month.
But now a completely different story emerges that could harm Mr. Trump’s future in the White House.
TABLOID MAY THREATS THE FUTURE OF TRUMP
Last week, Enquirer admitted the parent company American Media Inc. to have paid a $ US150,000 “in consultation with” Mr. Trump to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed that she had an affair with billionaire.
The contract was made in September 2016 – two months before election day – and would have been a great story for the celebrity magazine.
Only it never ran, and the payments were actually part of a catch-and-kill operation to keep McDougal still.
The revelations came when Mr Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison for orchestrating the pay-offs, which amounted to an illegal campaign contribution.
He was also ordered to pay nearly $ US1.4 million in refund and to lose $ US500,000, and was fined $ US50,000 for lying to Congress.
Prosecutors stated that the company, and Pecker himself, had allowed the US $ 150,000 in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
In August 2015, Mr. Cohen met Pecker and “at least one other member of the Trump campaign” at Trump Tower.
“During the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women, including by assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so that they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” , was the agreement. “Pecker agreed to keep Cohen informed of such negative stories.”
The third member in the meeting? That was Mr. Trump himself, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.
In other words, Mr. Trump was reportedly at the center of a conspiracy to pay the company to silence his alleged mistress and increase his election prospects – an offense that involves imprisonment.
When Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to arranging the payments, he said he had done that “in the direction” of an unnamed person.
The statement of admitted facts says that “the main purpose of the company to make the payment was to suppress the story of the woman … to prevent it from influencing the election.”
During his conviction, Mr. Cohen said that “time and again I felt a duty to cover up (dirty acts of Mr. Trump).”
While the White House refused to make an official statement, Mr. Trump responded to Twitter and said he “never led Michael Cohen to break the law.”
I never ruled Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he must know the law. It is called ‘advice from a lawyer’ and a lawyer has great responsibility if a mistake is made. That’s why they get paid. Despite the fact that many campaign financing lawyers are strong …– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
And where has the magazine been in the midst of all this? Almost silent.
Mr. Trump has not blessed the covers since the prosecutors arrived. The main title of this week is: “MEGASTARS WANTED IN MILLION DOLLAR CON JOB!”, With photos by Ben Affleck, Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon.
Last week was the goal of Meghan Markle, with a photo of a lost-looking Duchess next to a headline that read: “PREGNANT PRINCESS COLLECTORS SELF-EMPLOYED!”
The week before? Amal and George Clooney seem to be looking at each other, with the words “AMAL TAKES THE TWINS!” Sandwiched between them.
It is a far cry from the gushy pro-Trump stories that were struggling earlier in the year, with even Mr. Cohen – with whom Pecker cooperated – coming under fire on 7 May.
“The weekly magazine with tabloid suddenly broke away from the Trump-related covers in the summer,” CNN noted. “Readers with a sharp eye may have noticed the shift. Instead of covers that celebrated Trump and attacked his enemies, the Enquirer has stuck to proven stories about celebrity scandals.
“In other words, the interviewer was no longer part of the Trump promotional media machine.”
The South District of New York is in favor of not prosecuting the magazine’s company for all this, provided it continues to work together.
In the meantime, Mr. Trump will undoubtedly be on the alert as the investigation continues.
American media, people. It is a wild, wild world.