The strangest revelation in Scandalous—a new documentary directed by Mark Landsman that concerns the history of the National Enquirer from its birth to its recent attempt to blackmail the richest man on earth, Jeff Bezos—is not the tabloid's long obsession with UFO stories and other oddities. No, it's this: In the 1980s, Donald Trump, a huge fan of the National Enquirer, would call its reporters and rat on himself. He'd pretend it wasn't him, but the reporters knew it was Donald Trump on the other end of the line, dishing out dirt about himself and the celebrities who entered his circle of the rich and famous.
What seemed bizarre in the 1980s makes perfect sense in our dark age of MAGA. The only people Trump views as enemies are those who aren't saying something about him, be it bad or good. He will call you names, he will tweet all manner of awful things about you nonstop, and you may actually believe he hates you like nobody's business. But this is not the case. The more you say his name, the more he loves you. You are talking about him, and that is what comes first. And if you won't be his loud bad guy, he will be the loud bad guy himself. This is the White House today.
The National Enquirer, which started in the early 1950s in New York City with a loan from the mafia, has had four distinct phases. One: Its gore moment (front-page images of bodies destroyed in car accidents or by bullets). Two: Its grocery store check-out moment (suburban wives, sleazy celebrity stories, UFOs). Three: Its moment of respectability (hiring black writers, proving O.J. Simpson did indeed wear those "ugly ass" shoes). And four: Its sharp turn to the right, which happened after 9/11.
What has been in the DNA of the rag from its inception, however, is raw gangsterism. If the paper finds some dirt on you, and you don't want it to become public, you will receive this offer: The story will be buried if you sell your soul.
This happened to Bob Hope, to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Bill Cosby, and most recently and publicly to Donald Trump (while he was running for president, he needed his affairs with sex-industry workers hidden from the public). It did not happen to Jeff Bezos, who basically told the National Enquirer to go fuck itself when it threatened to reveal the dick pics he sent to a lover.
While watching this entertaining documentary, keep in mind the claim made by journalist Ronan Farrow: The National Enquirer has buried at least 60 super-sleazy stories about our pussy-grabbing president.