Friday, December 14, 2018

2031 Catch and Kill

What’s going on with this?  We trust the National Enquirer but not the New York Times or CNN?  How did that happen?

Yes, the Enquirer has come a long way from the days when its predecessor, the New York Enquirer, put stories on its front page about two headed babies from outer space and “actual” pictures of Bigfoot.

And, in fact, they have pioneered a new and threatening kind of journalism called catch and kill.

Let’s say some starlet has a fling with someone important or potentially important. Maybe a candidate for President of the United States.  The Enquirer rushes in and pays her for an “exclusive” and then goes to said candidate and offers to withhold the story.

Ms. Starlet is legally prevented from telling her story elsewhere.  So the story is dead, often to the benefit of the campaigner.  Evidently, this three-way exchange is considered a campaign contribution, but not a legal one.

Can this happen in real life? Dunno. Some people say it can and some others even say it does. Or has. Perish forbid.

The supermarket tabloids are among the few print publications that see regular and loyal buyers and readers.  And there are sure-fire stories that guarantee this.

A favorite topic is Hillary Clinton.  “Hillary fighting for her life” is a good headline.  You can always invent something that’s troubling Mrs. Clinton and make it sounds like it’s a struggle for her to keep breathing. Contrast that with “Hillary in Pain From Ingrown Toenail.”

No one would buy that headline.  But that life and death struggle with a toe could lead to much juicier front pages.

How about “Proof Obama Birth Certificate Fake!”  Well, sure.  Easy enough to play make believe with that lie.

Here are some real and recent Enquirer headlines:

--“Meagan & Kate: warring wives tear princes apart.”
Really?  Well, anything about the British royals sells. America has both Brit envy and royalty envy.

--“Regis Philbin’s Dying Regrets.” Facts were MIA.

And here’s the kind of headline that provoked the creation of WestraDamus parodies three decades ago: “Mystic Baba Vanga Predicts 2019’s major shocks.” Go ahead, buy the issue.  Clip the article.  And in 2020 look for the followup.  There will be none.

So, no more two-headed babies from outer space.  But close enough as the tabs get closer to earth.

Can you imagine what would happen if someone tried to foist a buy-and-kill to the Associated Press or any of the major TV networks?

They’d be run out of the office with pitchfork wielding security personnel.

--We’re at the 25th anniversary of the Monica and Bill thing.  All of a sudden, she’s #MeToo?  After 25 years of calling it “mutual attraction?”

“I voted Republican this year. The Democrats left a bad taste in my mouth.” --Monica Lewinsky quoted by

-The Senate has passed a resolution blaming that Saudi prince for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and now the we’re all waiting for the prince to fess up and fall on his sword.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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