Chatterbox is on the lookout for signs that Roger Altman, the former Clinton deputy treasury secretary who is now part-owner of the National Enquirer, is changing the world of supermarket tabloids. With this in mind, Chatterbox examined the July 20 issue of the Enquirer's sister publication, Weekly World News, which is also part-owned by Altman. If you've spent any time in a supermarket checkout line, you know that Weekly World News makes the Enquirer look like the Atlantic Monthly. Where the Enquirer tends to focus on celebrity, Weekly World News is preoccupied with space aliens and eschatology (a smart business strategy because space aliens and deities almost never sue for libel). Which brings us to this week's Weekly World News headline:
WORLD WILL END IN YEAR 2000, WARN BIBLE SCHOLARS!
The headline is accompanied by a picture of a white bearded man--presumably God--gazing sorrowfully at our troubled planet from outer space. (Nice to know He cares.) Chatterbox has a feeling that when Altman goes to dinner parties, he doesn't boast about scoops like this, or (to pick a few other headlines out of the same issue of Weekly World News):
WARNING: YOUR TOILET PAPER CAN KILL YOU!
8 TIPS TO HELP YOU WALTZ THROUGH PURGATORY!
ONE IN FIVE DOGS & CATS DESCENDED FROM SPACE ALIENS
PEOPLE FLOAT IN MIDAIR OVER MYSTERY LAKE--WHERE LAW OF GRAVITY DOESN'T EXIST!
However, it's just possible that Altman takes quiet pride in the following notice, which appears above this week's screaming cover headline about the imminent apocalypse:
Caution to readers: The message published inside warns of the end of the world and may be terrifying to some people. Please be careful when sharing it with others.
Weekly World News 's end times exclusive is further played down by burying the story itself on page 25. Chatterbox applauds this move toward social responsibility and restraint, and looks forward to seeing Altman and Weekly World News publisher David Pecker (formerly of Hachette Filipacchi) at the next Pew symposium on civic journalism.