Bill Funt Staff Writer
With all the talk about “fake news” these days, it may be interesting to have an inside look at how the tabloids work. I should know. I was right there a couple decades ago.
For those of you who don’t know, my father was Allen Funt, creator and host of Candid Camera. About 25 years ago my dad, still a celebrity whom everybody knew about, had a stroke and was in the middle of a long hospital stay. Of course the Enquirer immediately printed an “Allen Funt Battles Back From The Brink Of Death” story.
It was a highly dramatic version of what actually happened: the family all joining hands till the magical moment when Dad opened his eyes and came out of a coma versus the actual event of Dad flickering on and off with no circle of family members gathered around his bed.
Here’s what I learned from reading that story. When you see a quote from someone in such a story that ends with, “so and so told The Enquirer (or Star or Us …)” then someone actually said it. If the quote is followed by “so and so told a source” or “a source revealed” then it is likely BS. How did I figure this out? The Enquirer spoke to my mother and sister, and they each had a sentence or two of what they said printed, with their sentences all ending with “told the Enquirer.”
The most quoted person in the story was me … and I didn’t speak to them for five seconds. Every quote they attributed to me ended with “he revealed to a source” and did not contain a word that I actually said to anybody. The one that annoyingly amused me was that I spearheaded the hand-holding vigil and called it Operation Bring Back Dad. I assure you I would have come up with something more interesting than that.
Some of you will respond to this with “That must be so infuriating Bill.” You know what … it’s not. No harm came of it whatsoever and there is something about the whole process that entertained me more than offended me.
It’s just Chinatown folks; it’s just Chinatown.