Gossip Cop Busted 2,404 Stories In 2016, National Enquirer Was Worst Offender
Gossip Cop busted 2,404 stories in 2016. That’s nearly a 60 percent increase over 2015, when we busted 1,504 stories. That year, OK! was our worst offender, but this time around, the dishonor belongs to its sister publication, the National Enquirer.
The National Enquirer was corrected by Gossip Cop 335 times over the course of 2016. Going from ranking fifth on our scorecard in 2015 to the number one spot now, the supermarket tabloid was responsible for some egregious cover stories, photo manipulations, and outright falsehoods. At times, the publication seemed to be little more than a propaganda machine for Donald Trump. One September issue, for instance, declared to have Hillary Clinton’s “full medical file,” and a list of “deadly health conditions” from which Clinton was supposedly suffering, such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, liver damage from alcoholism, brain damage and more.
But Clinton wasn’t the only victim. The National Enquirer also alleged Angelina Jolie was “dying,” and manufactured a cover story about Brad Pitt beating Jolie during their marriage. That edition featured a seemingly doctored photo of the actress with bruises on her face. There was also absolutely no question the outlet engaged in some unscrupulous behavior in May, when it tried to dupe readers into thinking it had video and photos from Prince’s death (see above). In actuality, the National Enquirer morbidly staged the shots with a body double, only acknowledging in tiny print that they were “photo recreations.”
The magazine often worked in tandem in 2016 with its sister site RadarOnline, which ranks as our second-worst offender of the year with just one fewer correction than its print counterpart, for a total of 334 busts. It was not unusual to see an untrue tale first spun on the RadarOnline website and then published with minimal changes in the National Enquirer, or vice versa. But the blog was also up to no good all on its own. In December alone, Gossip Cop debunked 45 stories from the webloid. Among them was a story purporting to have video from Kim Kardashian’s Paris robbery. The footage, however, was not actually connected to the crime at all.
OK!, which topped our scorecard in 2015, dropped down to third last year. But that is in no way an indication that the tabloid’s accuracy has improved. In fact, while we busted the magazine 196 times in 2015, we corrected 328 of its articles in 2016. And many of those stories outright contradicted each other. One week in February, the tabloid published a cover story announcing Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani had “split.” But issues that came out before and after that report wrongly touted tales of marriage and pregnancy. None of it, though, was true. Just as fact-checking ranked low on the OK! priority list, so did consistency.
Curiously, these three outlets, along with Star, which ranks fourth on our year-end chart, are all run by the same media conglomerate. The year 2016 was when fake news broke out in the mainstream, and these gossip publications seemingly played a part in that. RadarOnline and other online-based outlets, such as HollywoodLife and Celeb Dirty Laundry, added to this epidemic by appearing to manufacture content designed to game search engines and go viral on social media. And, when not seemingly making up such stories, these blogs were responsible for regurgitating tabloid articles and often adding unique, yet unverifiable details.
Gossip Cop was founded in 2009, but it was only in 2014 that we began to keep a daily bust record of every story we corrected, something we call our “tabloid tally.” We do all this to hold outlets accountable, and never before has this job been more important. There is a misconception that celebrity-related content is simply entertainment, and therefore need not be accurate. This is not true.
The number one tenet in journalism, no matter what the area covered, is accuracy. Entertainment reporting is not always so serious, and can at times be salacious, but none of this should be at the expense of fact-checking and truth-telling. Gossip Cop is not error-free, but we take great pride in our dedication to veracity. In 2017, we vow to continue separating fact from fiction, keep tracking what’s real and what’s rumor, and always bust bad dish.
GOSSIP COP’S 2016 TABLOID SCORECARD*
1. National Enquirer..……………335
5. Life & Style……………………..216
7. In Touch…………………………181
8. Celeb Dirty Laundry…………..140
10. Us Weekly….………………..….36
*Indicates the Top 10 outlets with the most rumors corrected by Gossip Cop between January 1 and December 31, 2016.