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Say goodnight, Bat Boy



First the bad news: the Weekly World News is folding at the end of this month.

Now the good: this homage by Washington Post writer Peter Carlson is the best send-off imaginable. A sampling:

The most creative newspaper in American history, the Weekly World News broke the story that Elvis faked his death and was living in Kalamazoo, Mich. It also broke the story that the lost continent of Atlantis was found near Buffalo. And the story that Hillary Clinton was having a love affair with P'lod, an alien with a foot-long tongue. And countless other incredible scoops.

None of these stories was, in a strictly technical sense, true, which explains why the Weekly World News never won a Pulitzer Prize. But in its glorious heyday in the late 1980s, the supermarket tabloid amazed and amused a million readers a week.

But that was then. Now, with circulation plunging below 90,000, American Media, which owns WWN, has pulled the plug. The Aug. 27 issue will be the last. After that, the Weekly World News will be as dead as Elvis, maybe deader.

WWN's cult followers are mad. How mad? Almost as mad as Ed Anger, WWN's perpetually enraged right-wing nut-job columnist. Anger started every column by announcing exactly how angry he was. "I'm madder than Batman with a run in his tights." Or: "I'm madder than a gay football hero on a date with the homecoming queen." Or his favorite: "I'm pig-biting mad."

"I'm pig-biting mad at the demise of Weekly World News," says Joe Garden, features editor of the Onion, a satirical newspaper much influenced by WWN. "They really knew how to take hold of a premise and go as far as humanly possible with it. It was beautiful."

Adieu, WWN. And thanks for making long supermarket lines a lot more bearable.


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