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Its roots were in the New York Evening Enquirer, a regular newspaper founded in 1926, whose publisher was later one of 30 people unsuccessfully charged with "sedition" in a botched 1944 trial for violating the Alien Registration Act of 1940 by editorializing against U.S. involvement in World War II. The paper was eventually sold in 1952 and converted to its current gossip tabloid format and name. The National Enquirer originally published celebrity gossip and gory crime stories; as time went on the gore was dropped and supplanted with sensationalist stories on psychics, astrology, diet woo, UFOs, and related topics. In 1979 the Enquirer's parent company launched the Weekly World News for the pseudoscience and woo, and changed the Enquirer's focus to mainly celebrity gossip. Its current publisher is American Media Inc. (AMI), which also owns several other gossip tabloids like the Sun, the Star, the National Examiner, and the Globe.
The National Enquirer was infamous for its ads over the years, which for some were the main attraction of the paper. These included ads selling "Space Brothers" medallions, which would supposedly cause space aliens to pluck the wearer off the earth in their UFOs in the event of nuclear war; a mail-order evangelist calling himself "Rev. Dr. John" who would pray powerful prayers for you to be blessed with a new car or bundles of money magically appearing in the mail if you sent him a small donation; vials of magic water from some place where the Virgin Mary had been spotted; and lunatic fringe self-help books like Scott Reed's The Miracle of Psycho-Command Power, in which you could learn to hypnotise lovers and draw them to you with your magic gaze.