Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer

In 1952, Generoso Pope Jr. (his dad Generoso Sr. owned and published the powerful NYC Italian-language daily newspaper, Il Progresso) purchased the struggling National Enquirer, changed it to a tabloid format and history was made. We learn all about the sordid details (mostly) in “Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer.”

Laura's Review: B

Three different publishers, three different papers - the evolution of the "National Enquirer" makes for an interesting tale where we learn that the 'catch and kill' practice, where the paper would kill a story, began with a Bob Hope scandal, but was never used for nefarious political purposes until Trump buddy David Pecker came along. The tabloid has a history of stretching the truth, but also of digging up real scoops - it was the Enquirer staff who unearthed the picture of O.J. wearing the Bruno Magli shoes he'd deemed 'ugly' and denied owning during his murder trial. Oddly, there is no mention of their having broken the John Edwards baby mistress scandal.

Robin's Review: B

I remember, many, many years ago, seeing the National Enquirer (probably in my own home and definitely at the supermarket checkout) with all of its bizarre stories of alien visitations and two-headed babies. This was before the tabloid switched to its lucrative celebrity-subject market to show the public the seamy underbelly of the famous and the rich and all of their (real or manufactured) scandals.

Documentary filmmaker Mark Landsman deftly mines the rich source of material that is the National Enquirer and its long, often notorious tabloid history. Landsman and company give us that history, at first dwelling with mirthful incredulity on the world’s bizarre stories and happenings and moving on to its celebrity years about such scandals as Liz Taylor gaining weight or Steve McQueen’s affair with Ally McGraw.

Then, in 1988, Generoso Pope Jr. died and his widow sold the Enquirer conglomerate to what eventually became American Media Inc., run by David Pecker. This is when the “catch and kill” policy for potentially scandalous stories on favored subjects – think Donald Trump – leaped to public attention. This is also when the tabloid paper became a purveyor of conservative political viewpoint and, to me, losing any silly charm the infamous paper once had.

The filmmakers put together a succinct look into a scandal tabloid that has been around my entire life. I never was a fan of the rag but I, like most everyone who has seen the National Enquirer banner, would give it a look whenever the chance.