The National Enquirer

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The National Enquirer is a national American supermarket tabloid. It is often regarded as being sensationalist and carrying many esoteric stories. Articles usually center around reports about celebrities. The Enquirer is descended from a former New York tabloid, the New York Enquirer. Since 1971 it has been based in Lantana, Florida.

The Enquirer, as it is more commonly known, is also curiously well-regarded for doing very good research and being proven to be correct in many of their facts. The stories the Enquirer publishes about celebrities carry the risk that the celebrity will sue them for libel. Carol Burnett once won a libel judgement against the Enquirer for falsely claiming that she had been seen drunk in public, purportedly with Henry Kissinger; the fact that both of her parents suffered from alcoholism made this a particularly sensitive issue to Ms. Burnett. (In order to defend against libel, an article needs to have a substantial basis in fact.) This loss led to a considerable tightening of reporting standards with regard to stories about actual people and events. Subsequent celebrity stories broken in the Enquirer have generally been proven true; for example, it was the Enquirer which uncovered in 2001 that the Rev. Jesse Jackson had an illegitimate child. Revelations about some of the facts in the Monica Lewinsky affair by some of the mainstream press, in areas that they would have in the past been unlikely to have breached, were justified by the claim that the details were already public knowledge in circulation on the Internet and in the Enquirer. It is unlikely that either would have been cited as a justification only a few years earlier when the Internet was still in its infancy and the Enquirer still regarded as merely a salacious "gossip sheet".

The former longtime chief editor Iain Calder has written a book explaining the claim that the Enquirer was forced by this reality to work very hard to check their facts and their sources well. The Enquirer and its parent company, American Media, were among the subjects of the 2001 anthrax attacks.


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