June 26, 2018

Flotsam & Jetsam: My short career with the National Enquirer

Sam Smith - Although the National Enquirer is now deep into the Trump camp, there was a time, back in the 1960s when it almost hired your editor. A friend at 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 a fee greater than my recent salary as a Coast Guard lieutenant.

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 segué. We sold each other on ourselves and the three other conspirators -- all of whom worked forthe distinguished 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 afterwards I felt a little tawdry and never submitted anything else.

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