Magazine article Editor & Publisher

She Quits Job over Aliens, Elvis and Love Nest Stories; Supermarket Tabloid Journalist Says She Just Couldn't Take It Anymore

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

She Quits Job over Aliens, Elvis and Love Nest Stories; Supermarket Tabloid Journalist Says She Just Couldn't Take It Anymore

Article excerpt

Supermarket tabloid journalist says she just couldn't take it anymore

Terry Raskyn quit her job as the Journalism Spin Doctor for the Globe over Princess Diana and Kathy Lee Gifford.

The award winning journalist's professional agony began when Globe editors showed her the sizzling videotape of Frank Gilford in a hotel room fondling a blonde who was not Kathy Lee.

"We set up the cameras in room 521 of the Regency Hotel. I'll never forget that room number" Raskyn grimaced, when she recalled seeing Frank with a flight attendant dad only in a towel.

As soon as the Globe broke the sex scandal, Frank and Kathy Lee Gifford denied the affair and threatened to sue the Boca Raton-based tabloid.

"We live in a cash-for-trash age where anyone, anywhere can stand up and say anything about you. The truth doesn't matter, Kathy Lee tearfully told students at Marymount University in Virginia.

But the truth was on the videotape. The Globe struck back by publishing photos of Frank's steamy sexual encounter to prove that it hadn't made up the story.

"Everyone loves to hate Kathy Lee," Raskyn sighed. "But I thought this was too close for comfort."

Raskyn, who had spent almost two decades in mainstream journalism, was aghast at the Globe's orchestration of the lurid drama. Suzen Johnson, an ex-flight attendant, had come to the Globe claiming she could lure Frank Gifford into a love nest. So the Globe booked the Regency room, installed video cameras and released photos from the encounter for all the world to see.

SETTING THE TONE

"Dragging out the story for a six-week period was maximizing the pain for Kathy Lee," Raskyn said. "Week one was the story. Week two, the photos. Week three, the audiotapes. There was almost a glee the paper had about hurting her. I felt the effort was: Let's get Kathy Lee. We were setting the tone, and the rest of the press was taking it hook line and sinker."

The mainstream press devoured every sleazy detail because the perky talk show host, who once told TV Guide that half of America wanted to throw up when they saw her, had endlessly boasted on TV about her perfect marriage.

As a result, Frank Gifford's hotel tryst kept Globe sales booming for weeks. But Raskyn wondered, Is this journalism?

"My big question was, `Were it not for the Globe would the encounter between Johnson and Gifford have taken place?' When I couldn't answer that, I knew I had crossed the line," Raskyn said.

MAINSTREAM TO SUPERMARKET

In 1994, when Terry Raskyn left WCBS-AM radio news to become vice president for strategic planning for Globe Communications Corp., journalists who knew her were shocked. The straight-arrow lawyer and newswoman began her career at the Co-op City Times in the Bronx, worked her way through law school at Good Morning America and for several years started her day reporting traffic on the Don Imus radio show, raced to WCBS-AM radio to cover special events and finished up producing the late news for WNBC-TV

She became managing editor of WCBS-AM radio news in 1989 and won awards for team coverage of the World Trade Center bombing and other events. In 1993, she was elected president of the New York Chapter of the Society of Journalists.

So how did a solidly established journalist wind up at the nation's No. 2 supermarket tabloid? Simple: Her uncle, Mike Rosenbloom, owns the Globe. The company started in Montreal 43 years ago and today publishes tabloid papers and consumer magazines, Raskyn said.

A family illness brought Raskyn and Rosenbloom together at a time when she was burnt out from daily journalism, measuring her life in news stories. When her uncle began bouncing problems off her, Raskyn couldn't resist the challenge. She said goodbye to WCBS the day after a madman massacred commuters on the Long Island Rail Road.

At Globe Communications, Raskyn used her journalism experience to defend the company's three raucous tabloids, the National Examiner, Sun and Globe, which has a circulation of 1 million. …

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