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And Also, Bonnie Fuller Requires Urine Tests and Pap Smears / Jossip
And Also, Bonnie Fuller Requires Urine Tests and Pap Smears
— Fri, Oct 13, 2006 —

When Bonnie Fuller told us last night that she polygraphs some of her sources for Star to ensure they're telling the truth, we nearly shit ourselves. And so did at least a dozen other media reporter types in the audience who we talked to at last night's Reuters panel "Public Figures, Private Lives." (That was after the audible gasp from the audience.)

Polygraphing sources? Does American Media Inc. even have the budget for that? (And if they do, doesn't David Pecker pad his own pockets with it?) We've heard murmurs about this before, but we've also heard murmurs about Mel Gibson not hating Jews. Do the tabloids operate on a Hollywood-level of mysticism we don't know about?

Apparently so. We touched base with a number of chief editors at the celebrity rags and, it turns out, polygraphing sources is not entirely uncommon. National Enquirer editor David Perel tells us: "We have polygraphed sources in the past and in fact made mention of it in the article we published, showing the result. Some sources do sign contracts, in particular when we are buying something exclusive, such as photographs." (The Enquirer, it's worth noting, is also a AMI title.)

That's "sign contracts," as in paperwork binding sources to their story and agreeing to testify in court should the magazine come under legal assault (read: accusations of libel). Fuller also said that's regular practice at Star.

But the meat (pun intended) of last night's panel – with Fuller flanked by Slate's Jacob Weisberg, Reuters' Paul Holmes, First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, former RIAA prez and media/GLBT issues consultant Hilary Rosen, and Splash News chief Gary Morgan – was devoted to the gays. Mark Foley this, House pages that. But what about Lance Bass and Reichen Lehmkuhl, yo? Forget closeted Congressman. How does Fuller handle covering gay celebs who aren't out?

Well, she doesn't. As most panel members agreed, sexual orientation remains a part of someone's private life, off limits to even tabloid scrawl. So yes, two gay (but not out) celebrities sleeping with each other will be kept under wraps, while two straight celebs are fair game. And besides, Fuller claims Star didn't even know about Lance and Reichen until the former *Nsync-er came out in People — which is less a debate over outing gay celebs than it is for finding new reporters. Seriously. There were photos of those two. Everywhere.

Update: While some editors didn't have much to say on the record, we did just hear from In Touch executive editor Dan Wakeford, who says: "We???ve never polygraphed a source in our four years of existence. Polygraphs are not accepted as court evidence. We make our stories accurate by avoiding single sourced stories and investigating them thoroughly." So booyah.

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No. 1
Mel says:

How could you not know that sources are polygraphed at AMI? Duh, that really surprises me!

October 13, 2006 11:17 AM
No. 2
OMG says:


October 13, 2006 1:15 PM
No. 3
JJ Buell says:

Bonnie Fuller. Now there's a blast from the past! How come nobody really writes about her any more?

October 13, 2006 3:49 PM

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