Intl. Notebook May 11 2024
ASKED BUT NOT ANSWERED
Enquiring minds want to know, but people can't always get what they want.


Tabloids are our thing. We've talked quite a bit about how influential they were during the 1950s. Apparently, considering the revelation that a recent presidential candidate depended upon one to catch and kill stories that could harm his campaign, they still are. This National Enquirer hit newsstands today in 1958. The cover has a rare shot of Ireland born actress Maureen O'Hara, who says she doesn't have a lot offer but wants a man around the house. She had plenty to offer, but she'd been divorced for around five years, so the headline makes sense. We'd have bought this but some joker wanted eighty bucks for it, which made milk come out our noses, we laughed so hard. We generally get our tabloids for fifteen, and the ones we choose are usually far more colorful than this early-period Enquirer.

We wonder if the ask was so high due to the paper's current newsworthiness. The whole situation is interesting, because unlike old top-tier tabloids like Confidential and Whisper that often uncovered inconvenient truths, the newer interations generally just make everything up, which places them closer to satire than news. Even so, tabloids remain the traditional last stop for people wanting to sell sensational stories, but who've been turned away by more ethical publications, which means facts occasionally land on tabloid editors' desks. Former Enquirer head David Pecker understood that, has testified during the ongoing Donald Trump hush money/finance disclosure trial that he expected it to happen, and, as it turns out, he was correct in spades.

Politics is a dirty business, but politicians are generally pretty square. Enquirer wouldn't have found itself in a position to help 95% of them, but for a serial cheat and swindler like Donald Trump (fact, not opinion), whose flaws have been famously described as “fractal” (i.e. inside his flaws are more flaws, ad infinitum into bottomless, kaleidoscopic eternity), Enquirer was uniquely able to weight the electoral scales. Pecker must have felt a tremendous sense of power. We would have. The politics-journalism nexus hinges upon access, and having access in D.C—basically being an insider—is like being an insider in Hollywood, but with the added heady sensation of being in the center of world-shaping events. It must really be something to have the president's ear.

We'd give a lot to have been in some of those Enquirer interview sessions, especially the Karen McDougal ones. A year after McDougal was made Playmate of the Year, PSGP (one of your two Pulp boys) started as a temporary hire at Playboy Entertainment Group and rose to have an office and a staff, before chucking it and running away to Guatemala. So there's a six degrees of separation aspect to it for him. It's a shame Enquirer killed McDougal's and Stormy Daniels' stories. Tabloids are part of the dark underbelly of U.S. culture. They've always catered to prurient interests. And reveled in it. But hiding prurience? That's low. In a rational world that would cost Enquirer the actual designation “tabloid.” We'll talk to the National Association for Tabloid Oversight (the other NATO) about that. Oh right—it doesn't exist. Well, it should.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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