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The National Enquirer: A Despicable Propaganda and Shakedown Racket

GRAPHIC: Twitter/Popbitch

A number of news tabloids around world engage in defacto blackmailing and political hit jobs, and one of note is the National Enquirer.

Generoso Pope
Generoso Pope

In 1952, Gene Pope (1927-1988) purchased the Enquirer (est. 1926). Pope’s father, Generoso Pope, was a power broker in New York politics and media magnate whose Italian-American newspaper interests included the Corriere d’America and the daily Il Progresso Italo-Americano. Generoso’s cement company, Colonial Sand & Stone, paved the streets of Manhattan and, with his profits, the concrete baron bought Il Progresso, New York’s Italian-language newspaper.

Generoso’s best friend just happened to be Frank Costello (1891-1973) , the notorious mafia “don of dons” and head of the Luciano-Genovese crime family. He chose “Uncle Frank” to be the godfather of the third of his three sons, Gene Pope, Jr.

Mafia Don Frank Costello

In 1950, Gene Pope, who graduated from MIT with a degree in engineering, just so happened to work for the CIA. He was assigned to the Psychological Warfare division, a unit that deals with propaganda and brainwashing. What a coinkydink.

Two years later, Pope acquired the New York Enquirer for $75,000, which he supposedly partially financed through a loan from Costello. In 1954,  he revamped the newspaper’s layout, from traditional broadsheet to a tabloid format, and renamed it the National Enquirer. Costello also ponied up $10,000 a week to cover operating expenses while Gene strove to increase circulation. The publishing company was called America Media.

Generoso ‘Gene’ Pope, Jr. PHOTO: Independent Magazine

The Enquirer quickly shilled for the mafia. It reported that the mafia was a myth perpetuated by communist propaganda, which prompted New York Mirror columnist Lee Mortimer to write: “As soon as anyone goes after the mob, he’s taken on the following week by that loathsome blackmail sheet that’s ‘owned’ by Frank Costello’s godson.”

Donald Trump and Roy Cohn

Incidentally, an Esquire magazine article from 1978 mentioned that three of the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn’s four closest childhood friends were New York publishing magnates: Gene Pope, Jr.; Si Newhouse, Jr., who was the chairman of Conde’ Nast publications and part owner of the Newhouse communications empire; and Hearst Corporation President Richard Berlin. The fourth friend was Bill Fugazy, the owner of one of the world’s premier travel and limousine services. These men operated in concert and were very much a syndicate. All but Pope were Jewish.

After the assassination of JFK, the Enquirer at times skirted close to the truth on issues such as multiple shooters. But they always stuck to the Lee Harvey Oswald narrative and veered away from Mafia involvement in the hit.

Read “John F. Kennedy’s Prescient Belief in Conspiracies and His Own Demise”

The tabloid paper became a familiar limited hangout fixture in the world of conspiracy theories. It frequently ran disinformation and misdirection, but it occasionally sprinkled in some gems. This is similar to Alex Jones’ Infowars model. The Enquirer scored this alleged photo of Oswald at the morgue.

In the mid-1970s, when U.S. Sen. Frank Church was investigating intelligence abuses, the Enquirer published related stories, such as “Public Disclosures Destroying CIA” and “Lives of All Americans Have Been Put in Danger by Headline Hungry Politicians Who Are Crucifying CIA.”

In the book “The Deeds of My Fathers: How My Grandfather and Father Built New York and Created the Tabloid World of Today,” Pope’s son, Paul David Pope, describes how the Enquirer refrained from publishing dozens of stories with “details of CIA kidnappings and murders — “enough stuff for a year’s worth of headlines” in order to “collect chits, IOUs [that] would come in handy when he got to 20 million circulation.”

More on redacted FBI files on Pope, etc for deep divers.

When that happened, “he’d have the voice to be almost his own branch of government and would need the cover.”

Other potential stories drew on documents proving the CIA financed Howard Hughes “to secretly fund, with campaign donations, 27 congressmen and senators who sat on sub-committees critical to the agency,” plus “53 international companies named and sourced as CIA fronts,” as well as “a list of reporters for mainstream media organizations who were playing ball with the agency.”

Bottom line is that this publication has covered up for the kakistocracy for decades — and up to the present date.

Regarding the CIA and the Enquirer’s relationship to Hollywood, in “The Secret History of the National Enquirer” DuJour reported that:

Over the years, scores of celebrities and politicians were rumored to be making deals with the National Enquirer to conceal all manner of indiscretions, be it a DWI or other arrest on a minor charge, an intimate photo or video, an affair (particularly worrisome if it involved the spouse of another star), a gay or lesbian encounter or an out-of-wedlock child.

In exchange for information on someone else or agreeing to an exclusive interview, stars were able to keep their secrets out of the spotlight. Confidential sources confirmed to DuJour that celebrities were essentially blackmailed to work with the Enquirer or else risk their improprieties appearing on the front page.

It is alleged that Sylvester Stallone was told to cooperate or have a nasty exposé published. As agreed, such a story was not written.

But an Enquirer reporter gave the incriminating details to Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano for one of his clients to use as leverage against Stallone. Pellicano is currently serving 15 years in federal prison for numerous RICO violations, including illegally wiretapping his clients.

Other prominent figures who reportedly cooperated under duress were Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burt Reynolds and Bill Cosby.

In 1971, Pope moved the Enquirer down to Florida; and in ’88, he died at age 61.

In 1989, American Media and its other acquisitions were bought by Macfadden Publishing and Boston Ventures, which formed American Media, Inc. It named David Jay Pecker (1951-  ) as executive publisher of the Enquirer. Pecker was born in 1951 to a Jewish family in The Bronx, New York.

Trump and Pecker
Donald Trump and David Jay Pecker

Over time, funding was diverted from the Enquirer, once considered to be the company’s principal publication, to The Star. Editor Steve Coz, who guided the paper through the Simpson case, was fired and replaced by David Perel.

Most recently, the Enquirer became a major player in the Trumpian World Wide Wrestling political skulduggery and intrigue. According to reporting by the Associated Press, during the 2016 United States presidential election, stories that supported Donald Trump or attacked his rivals bypassed the newspaper’s standard fact-checking process.

Trump reportedly suggested stories to David Pecker — sometimes via Hope Hicks and sometimes personally — including a negative story about Republican primary opponents Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Pecker has described himself as a close friend of Trump. He supported Trump’s initial run for president as part of the Reform Party in 2000.

In an August 2014 meeting at Trump Tower, Pecker told Trump that he would use the Enquirer to catch and kill any allegations of sexual affairs that might be used against him.

On Feb. 27, 2019, Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified under oath to the House Oversight Committee that he and Pecker conspired to “catch-and-kill” stories that had the potential to damage Trump’s presidency.

“Catch and kill” is a technique employed by some newspaper editors to prevent information damaging to someone else from becoming public, presumably to protect allies of the editor. The newspaper buys the exclusive rights to a story and then buries it. In effect, it silences the seller.

The Enquirer openly acknowledges that it will pay sources for tips, a practice considered taboo and unethical by the news press. It has also been embroiled in several controversies related to its catch-and-kill practices involving allegations of blackmail.

Daniel “Danno” Hanks said he worked as an on-contract investigator for the Enquirer “off and on” for 40 years. He used the phrase “war of blackmail” to describe the AMI empire’s ethos.

“The Enquirer had a list of which attorneys worked for which celebrities, and if someone approached [the tabloid] for a story, they would approach the attorneys and say, ‘Make us a better offer,’” Hanks said.

Hanks, who was recently released from prison for involvement in a gambling and drug organization (Hanks claims he was duped into it), added that those Hollywood or celebrity lawyers often asked Enquirer investigators to do investigative work and “trash runs” for them.

“They would have a particular name, and we would track that person down,” he said, “and once we did, that information would be turned over to [the celebrity’s] lawyer.”

For example, in 2015, the Enquirer allegedly approached Ambra Battilana to purchase the rights to her story about groping by Harvey Weinstein, after Weinstein asked for help from the newspaper. When no agreement could be reached between the newspaper and Battilana, Enquirer staff turned to collect damaging personal information (aka smears) on Battilana and other Weinstein accusers.

By 2018, Pecker and AMI found themselves under investigation for using catch-and-kill payments, in which AMI purchased the exclusive rights to stories that might have been damaging to Trump’s campaign and then refused to publish them. Such a tactic may have represented illegal and/or undeclared “in-kind” campaign donations under Federal Election Commission rules.

Cohen Daniels Trump McDougal Pecker
Graphic: The Wall Street Journal

AMI in 2016 was accused of making a payment of $150,000 to Karen McDougal for the story of her liaison with real estate mogul Donald Trump, with no intention of publishing the story. The “life-story rights agreement” covers “exclusive ownership of her account of any romantic, personal, or physical relationship she has ever had with any ‘then-married man.'”

In response, the publisher stated the deal included other elements, such as a regular column from McDougal, and simply decided not to use the story.

Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen requested that Pecker’s AMI buy the rights to Stormy Daniel’s story, though Pecker refused to do so. And we all know what happened after that.

In June 2017, MSNBC “Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and husband Joe Scarborough stated that senior officials in the Trump administration had tried to blackmail the two of them using the Enquirer. According to them, the tabloid threatened to publish a smear article on the couple unless the two personally called Trump and begged him to have the story spiked. They refused, and the title (which did not have direct contact with Scarborough or Brzezinski) published the story. The Trump administration denied the story, but Scarborough claims he has saved phone correspondence to the contrary.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man and founder of Amazon is also the owner of The Washington Post. The Post published emails from AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard that threatened the release of a “d*ck pic” of Bezos, if The Post didn’t relent in its investigation of AMI.

Image result for david jay pecker

In April 18, 2019, The Post reported that the Enquirer was being sold for $100 million to James Cohen, CEO of Hudson Group.


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