The Death of Tabloid Objectivity

Department of complaints.
Nov. 2 1999 4:34 PM

The Death of Tabloid Objectivity

I am sitting here attempting in vain to find something to disagree with in your brilliant last posting, my darling, but cannot. OK, allow me this one quibble: As you know, I'm of the school that says politicians are only good for one thing: Entertainment value. The good citizens of Minnesota figured that out before the rest of the country, and we're just now catching up. (Unless we count Ronald Reagan.) And by that measure, Giuliani would be the better candidate. Still, I'm Pro Elephant Dung. And I vote. Sometimes.

However, I'd like to squander my space here with something I find far more riveting, and infinitely more disturbing: I'm referring, of course, to the announcement today that American Media Inc.--the company that owns the National Enquirer, the Weekly World News, and the Star--is buying the publisher of the Globe, the Sun and the National Examiner for $105 million. You probably remember that American Media was purchased in May for $300 million by a New York investment firm headed by former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, so maybe you aren't surprised by this hubris. According to David Pecker, chairman of American Media, the combined company will be "one of the largest publishers of celebrity-driven content in the world." The Time Warner of tabloid? I hope not.

I couldn't believe this when I read it. I'd be terrified if I thought that Congress will let this one get by without its usual far-sighted scrutiny. I mean really: How could any champion of the First Amendment let such a deal go through? I don't know about you, but I look to my tabloids for unbiased, even-handed reporting of alien abductions, miracle pet rescues, and celebrity drunks and their sudden-onset obesity. But imagine, if you will, a world in which all tabloid media is consolidated under one owner. Where will we go for the truth? TV? If the Weekly World News asserts that the earth is going to blow up on such and such a day, will the Enquirer ever dispute it? Even if it knows that the WWN is out to lunch on this one? The fact that readers would even have to ask such questions should put the stamp of death on this deal at once. Man, if only Giuliani were a senator already ...