The Godfather of Tabloid
Generoso Pope Jr. and the National Enquirer
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Generoso Pope Jr. denied all his life that he had any connections with the Mafia, most publicly when he was questioned about such links by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes in 1976. Wallace noted that Pope had known Frank Costello, Joseph Pravachi, and Albert Anastasia, which Pope readily admitted, ...
1. The Man in Perspective
Generoso Pope Jr. is virtually unknown to the American public as well as to academic circles, including even the discipline of American culture studies, yet ultimately he has had an immense and continuing effect on our everyday lives and our culture. Pope, who founded the National Enquirer and edited it for thirty-six years ...
2. Family Connections
Generoso Pope Jr. was the namesake, third, youngest, and favorite son of Generoso Pope Sr., who came to New York City in his early teens in 1906 on the S.S. Madonna from a farming village near Naples, with only a few words of English in his vocabulary and, as he later told a reporter, only a few dollars in his pocket. ...
3. Kid Wheeler-Dealer
After Horace Mann, Pope breezed through MIT in two and a half years, by way of an accelerated wartime program, and earned, at age nineteen, a degree in mechanical engineering that he never used. Though he described himself as a “science nut,” Pope also said he never wanted to be an engineer but went to MIT ...
4. Friends in Low Places
In 1951, Pope went to Washington and landed a job as a CIA officer in psych ops, or psychological warfare, in those days when the cold war was at arctic temperatures and a shooting war was going on in Korea. The Pope family’s Mafia connections likely had quite a lot to do with young Gene’s job with the CIA. ...
5. From Gore to Groceries
After several years as a hand-to-mouth newspaper publisher, Pope experienced an epiphany that was to guide him into lucrative new territory. Certainly he was ready for something else. When the Soviet Union crushed the Hungarian revolution of 1956 he printed ten thousand extra copies. ...
6. A Second Start
When Pope made the move from the New York area—his editorial offices were in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, from 1962 to 1971, aside from a brief time on Madison Avenue—to Florida, he dumped practically his whole editorial staff and started over.1 As noted, Pope never had trouble firing people. ...
7. Rocketing Up
Within a year of the move to Florida and the change in formula, the Enquirer’s circulation rose to two million, and it gained nearly a million a year for the next four years.1 The nation’s press pricked up its ears; Time and Newsweek started covering the paper’s spectacular rise and the hairpin turns Pope was making ...
8. Perfecting the Formula
By the time Tom Kuncl rose to executive editor in the late seventies, there were more British than American reporters, and overall the editorial ranks appeared to have swollen beyond their most efficient capacity. Pope had even hired a journalist to publish a lively, gossipy house newspaper to keep track of what was going on in Popestown. ...
9. Lantana 33464
Pope remained a fair enigma even to his reporters and editors, who were ordinarily experts at figuring people out. They studied him hard and knew many little things about him, some he probably didn’t know about himself. This was very plausible, since he once told a reporter, “I don’t spend much time trying to figure myself out.”1 ...
10. The Million-Dollar Tree: Ho! Ho! Ho!
Soon after moving to Florida, Pope decided to erect “the World’s Tallest Christmas Tree” on the Enquirer grounds, and thus was born a tradition that continued until his death. The tree was found each year in the forests of Washington State, felled, transported by railroad car, and erected on the Enquirer’s grounds. ...
11. Washington Garbage
Sometime after midnight on Tuesday, July 1, 1975, National Enquirer reporter Jay Gourley stopped his car in front of Henry Kissinger’s house in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and started loading in five green trash bags awaiting the morning’s pickup. ...
12. Manufacturing "Truth"
Probably Pope’s most embarrassing journalistic gaffe was occasioned by Australian Robin Leach, then freelancing for the Enquirer. Leach, who went on to found his famous TV program, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, placed a cover story—for which Pope always paid lavishly—on how CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite had seen a UFO. ...
13. The Peak of Tabloid: Elvis
The issues of cultural abjectness and social transgression were very much alive in the Enquirer’s story on Elvis Presley’s funeral in August 1977, which resulted in the highest sales for any issue of the National Enquirer—6.7 million— and was the benchmark record for any American tabloid. ...
14. Reporter as Gladiator
In the seventies, as the Enquirer headed for its highest circulations, Pope was still experimenting with his formula and the boundaries of his new style of tabloid journalism. The paper became ever more diversified, sometimes even looking back to the old gore days. Pope sent a reporter to Uganda to write an eyewitness account ...
15. Star Wars: Hollywood Versus the Enquirer
By the mid-seventies the National Enquirer was routinely feeding on Hollywood’s underbelly. The film factories manufactured the dreams and created leading ladies and men, and the Enquirer poked a hole and deflated the fantasies, revealing the warts, wrinkles, and sags in the idols, not to mention trumpeting their offscreen bad behavior. ...
16. Wacky World News (Tabloid II)
By 1979 it became obvious that Pope had to move the Enquirer into color. It was the technology of the time, and even more compelling, Murdoch was employing color in the Star, whose vivid covers were upstaging the Enquirer on the news racks. Color, it was also expected, would boost the Enquirer’s circulation ...
17. Anger as Satire
One of the most memorable creations of the Weekly World News was the radically conservative columnist Ed Anger. The column was written during Pope’s lifetime by Rafe Klinger. Ed Anger is also a good place to examine the motivations and politics so widely discussed in academic readings of tabloid culture. ...
18. Second Peak (Two Gardeners' Stories)
There was nothing architecturally distinguished about the building Pope put up off Dixie Highway to house his paper. The Enquirer’s one-story, flatroofed building was low profile, largely hidden from view by high hedges. The utilitarian structure was sprawling and comfortable and had a great deal of glass, ...
19. Sudden Death, Ironically
Pope never let down. He worked obsessively. Clearly this was what he considered the ideal life—performing the boss totally, sedentarily, smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. It was too good to miss even a few days for recreation. For all the medical stories the Enquirer ran, Pope didn’t trust doctors. ...
20. The Enquirer After Pope
In the last years Pope was at the helm of the Enquirer its circulation was running steadily in the middle four millions, and the paper remained a reliable cash cow, always easily existing on its cover price, as was the Weekly World News, still a lucrative shoestring operation. ...
21. Pope in Perspective
In his lifetime and in the years since his death in 1988 Pope has never achieved recognition. Some of this lack of recognition is related to the “authorlessness” of tabloid: in a real sense Pope was the constructive author of every story the Enquirer published, but his work was unsigned and anonymous. ...
Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2008
OCLC Number: 781469990
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