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 21
1924—Leopold and Loeb Murder Bobby Franks
Two wealthy University of Chicago students named Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks, motivated by no other reason than to prove their intellectual superiority by committing a perfect crime. But the duo are caught and sentenced to life in prison. Their crime becomes known as a "thrill killing", and their story later inspires various works of art, including the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.
May 20
1916—Rockwell's First Post Cover Appears
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Norman Rockwell's painting "Boy with Baby Carriage", marking the first time his work appears on the cover of that magazine. Rockwell would go to paint many covers for the Post, becoming indelibly linked with the publication. During his long career Rockwell would eventually paint more than four thousand pieces, the vast majority of which are not on public display due to private ownership and destruction by fire.
May 19
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
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