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Flashbacks: On the job with the National Enquirer, the politics of orange juice, and the Boston nominee for a National AIDS Commission with politics just “to the left of Lyndon LaRouche”

TRASH TALK
10 years ago
March 5, 1999 | Seth Mnookin shadowed the National Enquirer’s executive editor David Perel at the publication’s offices in South Florida.

“Perel spends much of his day on the phone with various Enquirer correspondents around the country. Around 11 a.m., he does his daily checkup with New York: ‘And then we always have the drugs to add to the other story. Chase it down . . . whaddya mean, how? Go through the fucking court files! And check out Travolta. Is this like a regular Scientology thing going on, or is it weirder than that?’ Here Perel pauses and winces at his reporter's tepid objections to finding out whether John Travolta's recent foray into marriage counseling is tied to his religious beliefs. ‘Look, what's the matter here? Are you too wimpy to cover this? It's not mean, it's factual. Look, just cover it, okay?’...

“At one point, Perel asks a visitor to leave his office: ‘This is too good to even risk losing,’ he explains. ‘This is a full-cover, all-out exclusive. You'll know about it soon enough.’ ”  Read Full Article here.

THE POLITICS OF ORANGE JUICE
15 years ago
March 4, 1994 | Liz Galst reported on a battle brewing between progressives and the Florida Citrus Commission over the latter’s "special" relationship with Rush Limbaugh.

“Two weeks ago, according to George Truitt, of the Florida Citrus Commission, Limbaugh was the group’s official spokesperson. Truitt even predicted an upsurge in sales due to the market strength of Limbaugh’s dittoheads. Similarly, Florida Department of Citrus spokesperson Ivy Leventhal gushed over the similarities between the views of her agency and those of Limbaugh.

"These days, though, Leventhal is denying Limbaugh is anything other than a radio host who reads OJ ads, just as Larry King and Dr. Jean Edell do on their daily programs.

"Either way, several gay and lesbian, women’s, and African-American organizations aren’t particularly happy with the money the organization is paying to Rush’s radio program...

“ ‘To get its point across, GLA is organizing a one-week boycott of the juice...with “Flush Rush” events organized in at least 26 states...

“ ‘Citizens and bar owners will go in front of their businesses and flush old containers of Florida orange juice in the sewers, just as we did in 1979 and 1980 in Fort Lauderdale and Miami to protest Anita Bryant,’ [spokesperson for Gay and Lesbian Americans’ Arizona chapter] Bauer says.

“For its part, the commission wishes the boycott weren’t happening. ‘Orange juice is a necessary part of a healthy diet...,’ says Leventhal. ‘So people are doing a disservice.’ ”

OFF THE MARK
20 years ago
March 3, 1989 | Sean Flynn got the lowdown on local doctor Vernon Mark, a nominee for the new National AIDS Commission.
“Former Harvard neurosurgeon and hearty conservative Vernon Mark...four years ago suggested quarantining people with AIDS who spread the disease through ‘irresponsible’ behavior.

“Although his idea was never seriously considered, Mark’s history of knee-jerk moralizing and conservative antics have left a number of AIDS activists wondering if he belongs on the 15-member commission, which is touted as a major governmental breakthrough in dealing with the AIDS crisis.

“ ‘Unless he’s changed his views,’ says Larry Kessler, director of Boston’s AIDS Action Committee, who also has been nominated to the commission, ‘he’ll probably be in the minority [of committee members]...Vernon Mark is the only one who stands out as someone with a complex history of understanding this disease.’ ...

“Sources in Boston and Brookline, where Mark lives, characterize him as ‘a right-wing nut,’ someone who, according to Kessler, ‘is just a little bit to the left of Lyndon LaRouche.’ He has been connected with Americans for a Sound AIDS Policy, a right-wing lobbying group, and once joined in a move to have his wealthy section of Brookline, hit hard two years ago by property-tax assessments, secede from the town and merge with Newton.”

FEEBLE PEOPLE
35 Years Ago
March 5, 1974 | People magazine debuted and Phoenix scribe R.D. Rosen was none too pleased by its arrival.

“Two weeks ago in these pages we acknowledged the birth of a new tabloid weekly, The National Star. This week, we take note of another new publication, Time Inc.’s People, the first national weekly magazine since Sports Illustrated was started in 1954. Both of these new weeklies hold in common a couple of beliefs which indicate a direction journalism is taking in these suddenly lean years.

“First, that people are tired of reading about political problems. God knows how many Americans would like to see Watergate flushed out of this country’s newspapers and magazines. It’s so boring, and besides, so hard to understand. The much-maligned American readership now wants soft news stories, film stars, and athletes, the old songs of hope and laughter; human interest journalism is the preferred ointment for our great moral and economic wounds.”

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