Former National Enquirer staff writer, Paul Bannister, joined George Knapp to unveil the hidden, dirty secrets of tabloid journalism, and to discuss the many stories he worked on as the tabloid's top specialist in tales of the psychic. In its heyday, the Enquirer had millions of readers, 80 full time staff reporters and hundreds of freelancers-- now it's down to just a handful of employees, he noted. One of the tactics tabloids used was to create a salacious sounding headline, and then send staff writers out to find any evidence for the story. Material was fact checked, but freelancers would often create fake sources to get past the research and legal department, he revealed. Another misleading tactic employed by the tabloids is the citing of extreme claims about celebrities, which are typically made by unreliable sources.
Bannister recounted his investigation into the Baffling Chair of Death, in Yorkshire, England-- those who sat in it were said to die. He confessed that some of the interviews he provided for his story were with names he found on headstones in a Yorkshire graveyard. He detailed investigating ancient cave paintings in the Baja Peninsula that depicted what looked like UFOs, as well as his interactions with Uri Geller, who appeared to bend a room key using psychokinesis.
Bannister spoke about famed psychic Jeane Dixon, who was featured heavily in the Enquirer. While she was given credit for predicting JFK's assassination, he pointed out that what she had actually said was that she "saw a dark cloud over the presidency." In fact, none of her predictions actually panned out, he added. Bannister also shared stories about Enquirer boss, Gene Pope (said by some to be a CIA operative). It was he who came up with the innovation of selling tabloids at the checkout counters of grocery stores.