The United States Of American Media, Inc.
Part 1 The Tabloid TriangleIn the aftermath of Charlottesville, shortly after Donald Trump absolutely spooned his denunciation of neo-Nazis, something small but extremely significant happened.
Almost immediately after he claimed that there was violence “on both sides” and that the alt-right contained some “very fine people”, charities and non-profits began cancelling their annual galas at Mar-A-Lago. The American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army – organisations which, presumably, were happy to turn a blind eye to the Muslim travel ban, the trans military purge, the Russia investigation, the Mexicans-are-rapists-and-murderers routine – suddenly all felt that the KKK-konnection was perhaps a little too much, and so made alternate arrangements.
There’s a reason why LIFE turning its back on Trump is more significant than some of the better-known, big-name organisations like the Red Cross or the Sally Army doing the same.
The short version is: LIFE has held annual galas at Mar-A-Lago for 24 years. Its founder is a self-proclaimed Trump loyalist. She is a close personal friend of the family, has been a member of Mar-A-Lago for decades, and even goes so far as to eat her Thanksgiving dinner there. She is precisely the sort of person you’d have expected to stay onside with Trump until the bitter, bitter end.
As always though, there is a little more to it than just that – and in order to explain why this seemingly tiny incident, this relatively minor hiccup, could actually prove to be catastrophically bad for Donald Trump we need to tell you a longer, more complicated story: the story of American Media, Inc.
Part 2 Angels and UnAmerican ActivityOur story starts with American Media Inc’s oldest and most notorious title: the National Enquirer. As the industry’s most sensational scandal rag, the Enquirer is often blamed for setting the grim tone of modern celebrity reporting – but how did it become so influential? And, more importantly, how did the Enquirer’s ties to a botched Mafia hit-job in 1950s New York end up causing a tabloid boom in 1970s small-town Florida?
Part 3 Suburban DecayWhile mob boss Frank Costello gave the National Enquirer a connection to the less-reputable elements of society, in order to become a truly powerful publication it would need someone to introduce the Enquirer to the established corridors of power. Someone with the ear of a senator, an attorney general, a president. Which is exactly what it had in the rather lumpy shape of Roy Cohn.
Part 4 Electile DysfunctionThe criminal underworld of New York, the closed corridors of Washington, the magazine industry of Florida. They’re all very interesting – no question about that – but these aren’t regular people we’ve been talking about here. For the National Enquirer to cut any sway with millions of average American Joes, things would have to change. They’d have to go corporate. Which is where American Media, Inc. comes into play.
Russian interference. Piss-tape kompromat. Montenegrin fake news factories. Shadowy billionaires on both sides of the political divide trying to ignite a culture war. There’s been one hell of an elaborate backstory contrived to explain the shock result of the 2016 US election, but a look through the lens of the National Enquirer suggests that some of it may have been a little more straightforward.