The "newspaper of record" has given a solemn nod to the newspaper of supermarkets--in the op-ed page, at least. In today's New York Times, Ross Douthat backs National Enquirer's Pulitzer Prize bid for uncovering the John Edwards scandal. He says the tabloid's dogged pursuit of Edwards's sordid philandering provided an important service that neither newspapers nor online gossip sites could fulfill:

The Internet is very good at generating gossip, but lousy at the dogged work of transforming rumor into news. And the national press almost seems ... uncertain about when and whether to probe into politicians’ private lives.
Douthat, in a display of journalistic noblesse oblige, compares his gold-standard broadsheet to the salacious tabloid. "It’s worth noting, as a precedent for the Enquirer’s Pulitzer bid, that The Times won a prize last year for its coverage of the Spitzer story." He also wants the Enquirer nominated for a public service Pulitzer. "If the supermarket tabloid’s reporters hadn’t gone digging where other journalists declined to even tread, we might never have learned how close the Democratic Party came to nominating a truly disgraceful character for the presidency."

Of course, others have less flattering perspectives on National Enquirer. Greg Mitch, author and former editor of Editor & Publisher, suggested Douthat was glossing over the Enquirer's more disreputable practices, such as killing its "Tiger Woods scoop" in exchange for a cover shoot.