June 30, 2017

Your editor's brief association with the National Enquirer

Sam Smith - News of the Trump-National Enquirer-Morning Joe scandal suggests that your editor should admit to my connection - albeit extremely brief - with the Enquirer.

The 1960s was a time for trying things. I even seriously considered working for the National Enquirer. A friend at the highly respectable Congressional Quarterly called with news that a mutual acquaintance -- a deputy editor at the tabloid -- was looking for a Washington column. The Enquirer was willing to pay $800 a week -- an enormous sum at the time albeit some of it intended for loosening lips.

My friend's scheme was brilliant. Four of us would write under a single pseudonym. Thus we could all keep our day jobs while writing one quarter of a column.

For five hours, we sat in the dark, dignified dining hall of the Mayflower Hotel discussing the project with the tabloid's chief editor, a small, dapper Englishman who moved from national politics to the importance of dog stories in perfect segue. We sold each other on ourselves and the three other conspirators -- all of whom worked for Congressional Quarterly -- returned to broach the subject with their publisher, Nelson Pointer. Pointer pointedly responded that they could either work for CQ or for the Enquirer but not for both. The scheme disintegrated. I did get paid $100 for a one paragraph item the Enquirer published, but afterward I felt a little tawdry and never submitted anything else.

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