The Godfather of Tabloid: Generoso Pope Jr. and the National Enquirer

The Godfather of Tabloid: Generoso Pope Jr. and the National Enquirer

The Godfather of Tabloid: Generoso Pope Jr. and the National Enquirer

The Godfather of Tabloid: Generoso Pope Jr. and the National Enquirer

Synopsis

They're impossible to miss at grocery stores and newsstands in America: colorful, heavily illustrated tabloid newspapers with headlines promising shocking, unlikely, and sometimes impossible stories within. Although ubiquitous now, the supermarket tabloid's origin can be traced to one man: Generoso Pope Jr. (1921–1988), an eccentric, domineering chain-smoker who died of a heart attack at the age of sixty-one. In The Godfather of Tabloid, Jack Vitek explores the life and career of Pope and the founding of the mother of all tabloids, the National Enquirer. Upon graduating from MIT, Pope worked briefly for the CIA until he purchased the New York Enquirer with dubious financial help from mob boss Frank Costello. Working with American journalists and Brits from Fleet Street, Pope changed the name, format, and content of the modest newspaper until it resembled nothing America had seen before. Grounded in interviews with Pope and his detractors and associates,The Godfather of Tabloidis the first comprehensive look at the life of a man who created a newspaper genre and changed the world of publishing forever.

Excerpt

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, and commented that Pope owned 100 percent of the National Enquirer’s stock and ran the paper like a “godfather.”

Wallace went on: “And you know as well as I do that there are allegations that Mafia money had been behind the Enquirer since the beginning?”

Pope: “Right, I’ve heard—I’ve read that, heard it.”

Wallace: “Answer?”

Pope: “Well, I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone who understands or reads or knows anything about this organization, whatever it is, that if there were, there still would be.”

Wallace: “Because?”

Pope: “Because they never let go once they get their hooks into you. And that obviously has not happened.”

Significantly, Pope managed to stumble through his denial without actually using the word Mafia. And Wallace, one of journalism’s most aggressive reporters, let Pope off, saying to the program’s wide audience, “The plain . . .

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