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On a nearby side table was a framed photograph of Mr. Levine with Elaine Kaufman, who died in 2010. Ms. Kaufman’s restaurant, Elaine’s, lay just a few blocks from Mr. Levine’s apartment on the Upper East Side, and he was a regular there, along with media luminaries such as David Halberstam, Pete Hamill, Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe.

In Mr. Levine’s bedroom, the walls were lined with framed articles about him and The Enquirer — many of them glowing — from mainstream news outlets including New York, Talk and The New York Times.

“Two in one year,” he said.

Several times during our 90-minute conversation, he mentioned that The Enquirer’s articles on Mr. Edwards had earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination. And just in case I had missed it, there was a framed drawing on yellow construction paper by his daughter that said in big black letters: “Pulitzer Prize Finalist.”

Never mind that Mr. Levine was stretching the truth, which was that the Pulitzer board had determined in 2010 that The Enquirer was merely eligible to submit its articles for consideration. The publication received no nominations in the end.

Ah, well. Who can blame a tabloid journalist for a little embellishment?

Mr. Levine, who grew up in Levittown, Penn., became besotted with journalism as a child when he would gaze at the famous faces — Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon — on the covers of the magazines scattered across his parents’ coffee table.

At Temple University, he edited the student paper, The Temple News, and mimicked guys like the street-tough columnist Jimmy Breslin by puffing on cigars and sneaking into bars while still under the legal drinking age. He figured that if he was brave enough to enter, bartenders would serve him.



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