Intro for June 28, 2017

Lainey Posted by Lainey at June 28, 2017 13:31:47 June 28, 2017 13:31:47

Dear Gossips,

Does politics belong in gossip? Is “belong” even the right word for it anymore? Two articles for you to read today that might answer that question.

The first from this month’s New Yorker, written by Jeffrey Toobin, about The National Enquirer’s Fervor for Trump. You might not pay attention to the Enquirer. But millions of Americans do. David Pecker, who runs American Media Inc, has been friends with Donald Trump for decades. According to Jeffrey Toobin, who spoke with former and current Enquirer employees, Trump “was a frequent source for Enquirer stories” and could have a story killed, no problem. When speaking to Jeffrey Toobin, David Pecker made no effort to deny his loyalty to Trump, as evidenced by all the negative stories the Enquirer put out leading up to the election about Trump’s opponents, both Republican and Democrat. American Media Inc acquired US Weekly earlier this year. They are now interested in Time Inc. Time Inc publishes TIME Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and …PEOPLE. What happens to gossip if PEOPLE becomes a sister publication to The National Enquirer?

If the Enquirer is on one end of the gossip accuracy spectrum, at the other end, we might find TMZ. Last year, around this time, during the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp divorce mess, when TMZ’s coverage was blatantly pro-Johnny, and when they kept pushing a pro-Calvin Harris narrative after he broke up with Taylor Swift, I asked whether or not TMZ is “officially the gossip voice for the men’s rights movement”. Yesterday ThinkProgress’s Judd Legum wrote “the inside story of how TMZ quietly became America’s most potent pro-Trump media outlet”, detailing Harvey Levin’s connection to Donald Trump, how often they speak, and how that relationship plays out on the site in the form of overwhelmingly positive coverage for Trump, his family, and his associates. Former TMZ staffers reveal that Harvey will not consider stories and tips that may be unfavourable towards Trump and that current staffers, reluctant to upset their boss, are compelled to pitch stories that they hope will make him happy, stories that inevitably benefit the president. TMZ’s demographic certainly benefits the president. They are lured to the site by stories about Brange and the Kardashians and Justin Bieber. They stay and get a dose of vitamin Trump.

Speaking of Justin Bieber though, back in 2014, Anne Helen Petersen wrote about JB’s alleged deal with TMZ after they agreed to vault a video they’d acquired of a then-15 year old JB being racist. Last year, The New Yorker did a deeper dive on the deal between JB and TMZ and how TMZ’s coverage of JB changed after it was made. Recently though, TMZ’s reporting on JB has been pretty spotty. In early May, they claimed that Justin was dating Hailee Steinfeld ... a story that went nowhere. A couple of weeks ago, they put up a post about JB hanging out in Hollywood on a Saturday night, partying with friends and spraying champagne off of an apartment building. The problem? JB wasn’t even in the US at the time. He was on tour in Sweden. TMZ ended up deleting the article.

Maybe all of this is unrelated. Maybe TMZ just got a couple of bad tips. Maybe those bad tips have nothing to do with their allegiance to Donald Trump. But it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. Especially as, more and more, political relationships are shaping the gossip industrial complex and the media players within it.   

Yours in gossip,


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