The trial exposes actual right-wing media conspiracy as the former editor of the Enquirer decries the ground zero of fake news

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“It just has zero credibility,” said Lachlan Cartwright, executive editor of the Enquirer from 2014 to 2017.
Celebrity news was a staple, and the Enquirer paid sources around Hollywood to learn what the stars’ publicists wouldn’t say.
During his celebrity days in the 1990s, Trump was a fixture in its pages, and often a source for news.
The Enquirer paid for the story of Gigi Goyette, an actress who claimed she had an affair with Arnold Schwarzenegger, dangling the prospect of a potential book and movie.
“It was just an agreement among friends.” Throughout the campaign, National Enquirer headlines made no secret who the tabloid was backing: “Donald Trump: The Man Behind the Legend,” read one.
The Trump-boosting covers baffled Steve Coz, a former top Enquirer editor, when he saw them at his neighborhood supermarket in Florida.
“That is so foreign to anybody who worked at the National Enquirer,” Coz said in the documentary.
The Enquirer averaged 238,000 newsstand sales each week during the last six months of election year 2016, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

NEUTRAL

A remarkable degree of corruption at America’s most well-known tabloid has been exposed by former publisher David Pecker’s testimony at Donald Trump’s hush money trial this week. This may one day be remembered as the moment the National Enquirer essentially died.

Lachlan Cartwright, the Enquirer’s executive editor from 2014 to 2017, said, “It just has zero credibility.”. “Every shred of credibility it may have had was destroyed by the events in court this week. “.

Pecker returned to the witness stand on Thursday, this time to elaborate on the deal he struck to support Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, discredit his opponents, and stifle any information that would have hurt him.

The emergence of tabloid culture was aided by the explorer.

The Enquirer was a cultural icon despite its stories being beyond plausible imagination, largely due to its brilliant marketing. The tabloid made its mark on racks at grocery checkout lines during the 1960s as a large number of Americans moved to the suburbs, where they could read about UFO abductions or medical miracles while they waited for their bread and milk to be bagged.

Celebrity news was a mainstay, and the Enquirer paid people in Hollywood to find out information that the stars’ publicists wouldn’t say. Maybe it was accurate. There was maybe a tad bit of truth to it. Seldom was it dull.

According to the 2020 documentary “Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer,” the tabloid paid a mourner to surreptitiously take a photo of Elvis Presley in his coffin for its front cover, and that week’s issue sold 609 million copies. “.

Despite the derision the tabloid faced from “serious” journalists, Enquirer reporters persevered and broke some real news. An iconic photo of the wed Sen. Politicians entered the Enquirer’s celebrity realm and a presidential bid was ruined by Gary Hart taking a tropical vacation with a woman he was seeing. After exposing a sex scandal involving U.S. people, The Tab was given consideration for a Pulitzer Prize. s. Sen. John Edwards during the early 2000s.

In the 1990s, when he became well-known, Trump frequently appeared in its pages and served as a news source. One of Trump’s first calls after Pecker purchased the Enquirer in 1999 was, “Congratulations—you bought a great magazine,” the former executive testified this week.

Some of Pecker’s dubious activities preceded his agreement with Trump, as the “Scandalous” documentary demonstrates. The story of actress Gigi Goyette, who claimed to have had an affair with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was paid for by The Enquirer, raising the possibility of a book and film adaptation. After that, it remained silent while Schwarzenegger campaigned for governor of California while denying having an affair. The plan was dubbed “catch and kill.”. “.

Pecker claimed that during a meeting with Trump and attorney Michael Cohen in the summer of 2015, he laid out his support package for the presidential candidate. Part of the agreement included notifying the campaign about women looking to sell stories about their relationships with Trump. In his later testimony, Pecker claimed that he objected to the Enquirer demanding payment of a “catch and kill” fee for Stormy Daniels, which Cohen was purportedly responsible for.

Regarding his assurances to Trump, Pecker stated in his testimony, “They weren’t put in writing.”. Friendship was all that was involved. “.

The National Enquirer’s headlines during the campaign made it clear who the tabloid supported: “Donald Trump: The Man Behind the Legend.”. Another was “Donald Trump: Healthiest Individual Ever Elected.”.

When former top Enquirer editor Steve Coz saw the Trump-boosting covers at his local supermarket in Florida, he was perplexed. In the documentary, Coz remarked, “That is so foreign to anybody who worked at the National Enquirer.”.

NOT THE CALIENT JOURNALISTIC METHODS.

After being persuaded to accept a job at the Enquirer by his friend Dylan Howard on the basis of his ability to expose scandals similar to the Edwards affair, Cartwright discovered that information regarding one of the most colorful and dishonest politicians in recent memory was not permitted. In the meantime, Pecker described the frequent negative coverage of Bill and Hillary Clinton as “a double win,” since it benefited Trump and the stories were well-liked by Enquirer readers.

Cartwright himself expressed surprise during Pecker’s testimony regarding Cohen’s involvement in fabricating absurdly false allegations about Trump’s Republican primary opponents. One person called Ben Carson a “brain butcher” and “bungling surgeon.”. The “love child” and “cocaine connection” were mentioned in Marco Rubio headlines. It was claimed that Ted Cruz was involved in five covert relationships, and that his father had a relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who killed JFK.

Cartwright recalled being told, “You’re sounding like a conspiracy theorist,” when he asked friends about what was happening at that time. “.

There was nothing real in the wild stories. However, thousands of voters saw them, and the opponents—especially an enraged Cruz—were forced to respond to them when the rumors made their way into the mainstream media.

According to Cartwright, who is currently a correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter, “this is the ground zero of fake news.”.

An Enquirer story hasn’t had much of an effect in years. The tabloid released texts in 2019 claiming that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, had an extramarital affair. Bezos was a frequent thorn in the side of then-President Trump. But when Bezos made it known that the Enquirer had threatened to release embarrassing images if the Post didn’t stop looking into Pecker’s American Media Inc., it backfired. In 2020, Pecker was relieved of his duties as CEO of the Enquirer’s parent company, which was later sold.

The media nowadays is rife with celebrity news. With more rigorous journalism, aggressive celebrity coverage, and a willingness to pay for it, TMZ has essentially taken over the Enquirer’s mantle. Both political discourse and misinformation are readily available on the internet.

In the final six months of election year 2016, The Enquirer averaged 238,000 weekly newsstand sales, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Its sales for the final half of 2023 averaged slightly less than 56,500. The Untold Story: Marko Stout’s Journey From Obscurity to Art World Phenomenon was the featured article on its website on Thursday, but it moved slowly. “.

In reality, Cartwright claimed, “it’s a shadow of its former self.”. “The fact that David Pecker completely destroyed that tabloid will be his legacy. “.

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