When Tabloids Go to Extremes to Get the Story

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett set up a trap for the tabloids, which she called as "invasive and malignant as cancer." Convinced that her medical information about her cancer was being leaked by hospital employees to the tabloids, she carried out her own sting operation.

When Fawcett's doctor told her that her cancer had returned in 2007, she deliberately withheld the news from her friends and family in order to prove that someone from the hospital was leaking information.

"I set it up with the doctor. I said, 'O.K., you know and I know.' And I knew that if it came out, it was coming from UCLA," Fawcett told the Los Angeles Times. "I couldn't believe how fast it came out — maybe four days."

Eventually, after months of requests, UCLA gave Fawcett's lawyers the name of the administrative specialist who had gone through her records, the Los Angeles Times reported. Just as the hospital moved to fire Lawanda Jackson in July 2007, she quit, the paper said.

Prosecutors learned that the National Enquirer had paid the employee more than $4,600 for the actress's medical information, beginning in 2006. The checks were made out to Jackson's husband.

Jackson pleaded guilty in December to a felony charge of violating federal medical privacy laws for commercial purposes, but she died in March of cancer before she could be sentenced.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger

In 2008, a former freelance reporter for People magazine blew the whistle on two tabloid photographers after they allegedly gave Heath Ledger a package of cocaine then secretly videotaped him snorting the drug.

The reporter, referred to in court papers as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit a few months after Ledger's death last January. She claimed that she was the unknowing accomplice to the two photographers, Darren Banks – whom she was dating at the time – and Eric Munn, when she accompanied them in 2006 to the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles where they met Ledger.

In the suit, she accused the British-owned Splash News & Picture Agency, which the photographers worked for, of paying for the cocaine and then profiting on the video of Ledger that was shown just days after the actor's death. Her attorney, Douglas Johnson, told British-basedThe Observer at the time the lawsuit was filed, "This is bad stuff. You don't give drug addicts drugs so you can then tape them."

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Last July after the birth of their twins, Pitt and Jolie were visited at the South France estate by two intruders.

Tabloid photographers dressed in camouflage scaled the walls of their estate at night and slipped onto the grounds in an attempt to be the first to photograph twins Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon. Instead they met up with Pitt-Jolie's armed guards.

Rubina Ali

Rubina Ali

The 9-year-old star of "Slumdog Millionaire" was at the center of controversy stirred by a British tabloid reporter who posed as a sheik offering to buy the girl from her father, Rafiq Qureshi.

The British tabloid News of the World ran a story in April about how Qureshi agreed to sell his daughter for the equivalent of $400,000 to the undercover reporter, leading to an investigation by Mumbai police.

After he was questioned by police, Qureshi denied the tabloid account to reporters. According to The Associated Press, he said he had been lured to a fancy Mumbai hotel by someone claiming they were moved by Rubina's story and wanted to help her.

"We had gone there to meet them in good will," he said. "But they have made false allegations about me and tried to frame me."

He said he was promised cash and "were talking of giving more, too," if he gave up his daughter.

"But I refused," he said.

The father was cleared of trying to sell her.

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