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Tabloid Journalism Hush-Hush Style

July 19, 2011

News of the World Final Edition

I was in the U.S. when the News of the World released its final edition, and the ongoing scandal has inspired me to reread some of James Ellroy’s work on tabloid journalism in his historical fiction. In Ellroy’s LA Quartet and Underworld USA trilogy, certain tabloids, specifically Hush-Hush magazine which actually existed and Ellroy read as a child, are intricately involved in criminal conspiracies, disseminating false information often in collusion with organised crime or branches of government. In  American Tabloid, the scandal rag Hush-Hush comes to its demise when, fed information by rogue intelligence operatives and organised crime figures, it prematurely prints an article claiming the Bay of Pigs invasion to be a complete success and Castro has been overthrown.

Ellroy writes the Hush-Hush articles in lurid prose using an extreme form of alliteration. I’ve typed out the specific article as it appears in American Tabloid below. If you love (or hate) the tabloids you might appreciate Ellroy’s hyperbolic prose style:




His rancorous Red reign ran for a rotten two years. Shout it loud, proud and un-kowtowed: Fidel Castro, the bushy-bearded beatnik bard of bilious bamboozlement, was determinedly and dramatically deposed last week by a heroically homeland-hungering huddle of hopped-up hermanos righteously rankled by the Red Recidividists’s rape of their nation!

Call it D-Day ’61, kats & kittens. Call the Bay of Pigs the Caribbean Carthage; Playa Giron the Patriotic Parthenon. Call Castro debiliated and depilatoried – word has it that he shaved off his beard to dodge the deep and dangerous depths of revenge-seeker recognition!

Fidel Castro: the shabbily-shorn Samson of 1961! His deliriously delighted Delilahs: God-fearing, red, white & blue revering Cuban heroes!!!

Castro and his murderously malignant machinations: trenchantly terminated, 10-4, over-and-out. The  Monster’ maliciously maladroit maneuverings: still morally mauling Miami!!!!

Item: Fidel Castro craves cornucopias of cash – getaway gelt to felicitously finance future finaglings!

Item: Fidel Castro has cravenly criticized America’s eminently egalitarian and instantly inclusive racial policies, reproachfully ragging U.S. leaders for their nauseously niggling neglect of Negro citizens.

Item: as previously posited, Fidel Castro and seditious sibling Raul sell homicidally hazardous Heroin in Miami.

Item: as the Bay of Pigs waggled and waxed as Castro’s Waterloo, the mendacious mastiff’s minor miscreant minions mined Miami’s Negro section with rat-poison-riddled Heroin! Scores of Negro drug addicts injected these carcinogenic Commie cocktails and died doomonically draconean deaths!!!

Item: this issue was rushed to press, to insure that Hush-Hush readers would not be left hungrily homesick for our properly protectionist parade of Playa Giron platitudes. Thus we cannot name the aforementioned Negroes or offer specific details on their dastardly deaths. That information will appear in scintillatingly-scheduled subsequent issues, in courageous conjunction with a new ongoing feature: “Banana Republic Boxscore: Who’s Red? Who’s Dead?”

Adios, dear reader – and let’s all meet for a tall Cuba Libre in laceratingly liberated Havana.

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