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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 04/14/2009

National Enquirer Patrick Swayze Pix: Invasion of Privacy?

By Liz Kelly

The newest issue of the National Enquirer, which one can hardly escape in any supermarket checkout line, features pictures of an emaciated Patrick Swayze accompanied by the headline "Down to 105 lbs: Brave Star's Shocking Final Promise."

I hesitate to post a screengrab of the cover and apologize for the link to said cover above because the sight of a diminished Swayze is downright shocking and, if undoctored, allows us for the first time to see how ravaged he has been by pancreatic cancer. As expected, the pix -- apparently snapped as Swayze visited his doctor -- show a rail thin, bald man wearing a baseball cap and a bluetooth ear piece. His clothes hang off his body. He's all elbows and angles.

There is no question that the act of taking these pictures and the Enquirer's decision to publish them is in poor taste; an invasion of privacy of the highest order from the same publication that claimed, in March 2008, that Swayze had only five weeks live.

We're not here to re-hash the argument about where the privacy line stands. These pix are obviously great lengths over the line. And of course, I know some of you will accuse me of being just as bad as the Enquirer for mentioning these photos at all. But I raise this for one reason: I'd like to know what consequences, if any, the Enquirer should face for publishing the photos. Vote in today's poll and share your take on this issue below.

By Liz Kelly  | April 14, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Insta-Polls  
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Comments

He looks horrible. What's disturbing is that sometimes the starlets they depict who are being ravaged by eating disorders look similarly horrible. How differently we perceive a rail-thin man than a rail-thin woman. It is clear to everyone that he is unhealthy. I wish it were so clear that 80-90 pound female stars are similarly sick.

Posted by: Roxie1 | April 14, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Quick drop-in (I vowed I would return for the Swayze).

Donating the proceeds just means they get away with it. Plus, the tax-writeoff. They need to pay financially for this disgusting act. Pull the issue AND pay damages.

Sending out Tuesday Love to the Swayze.

Posted by: epjd | April 14, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I noticed the cover in the grocery line yesterday - disturbing. The only punishment for the Enquirer is for consumers to leave the issue on the stands.

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | April 14, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Seconded (and well-said), ep.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | April 14, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm sending out healing vibes to the Swayze.

The best revenge at this point would be surviving another year or 20.

Posted by: memphis1 | April 14, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Legally it's not an invasion of privacy.

For moral reasons, lets hope they sell no copies.

Posted by: sarahabc | April 14, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

everyone wishes him the best. he's a class act and this has been a terrible and painful struggle for him. when a star sets foot in public, fair game legally for the photos. but sometimes, the ethical issue of is this the right thing to do, should supercede the legality. the enquirer obviously doesn't care. it's all about the scoop and the $$$. swayze did go on barbara walters's show to discuss his illness, so that his fans had some idea of what's going on. and in some ways, these photos allow those in the public who admire him, to follow the course of that illness, right or wrong. all in all, very sad.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 14, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The best revenge at this point would be surviving another year or 20.


Posted by: memphis1 | April 14, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

That would truly be miraculous memphis and there is nothing wrong with praying for miracles.

My mother died of pancreatic cancer 13yrs ago at the age of 59. She too looked like Swayze (actually worse) at the end. She weighed less than 80lbs on a 5'5" frame. I hope that when his time comes, he is comfortable and among those he loves.

Welcome back ep, I hope you'll stay.

Posted by: hodie | April 14, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I saw this at the register at CVS yesterday (during my failed quest for peeps). I didn't even see the picture. I just saw "Patrick Swayze drops to 1xx lbs" (couldn't see the weight because of florescent glare). As soon as I saw that, I looked away. It's so sad and unnecessary. We all know he's sick. I don't want to have this image of Mr. Swayze come to mind when I think about him. I prefer to remember Dirty Dancing, Ghost or Keeping Mum.

Even sadder is that this probably won't hurt NE at all. What is the saying? Today's newspaper will line tomorrow's waste bin.

Posted by: eet7e | April 14, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm with hodie and ep.

My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer when I was 16. The most disturbing things of all the things that were so sad and scary was how he wasted away in only a few weeks' time.

Shame on the National Enquirer for staking out a doctor's office.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 14, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Shame on the National Enquirer for staking out a doctor's office.
***
they have none.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 14, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Sarahbc and ep make great points. We all come here to generally gawk, but there is a line, and the Enquirer has clearly crossed it. Additionally, I think the fact that he is open about his illness makes this non-news.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 14, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

While I agree wholeheartedly with the Swayze-sentiment and right to privacy comments here, I wonder how many people are aware that this is indeed what cancer looks like. I saw the photo in the grocery store, and thought of the several family members who were all "elbows and angles", and who, when upon seeing their cancer ravaged bodies, thought "concentration camp". Too often a rosy "he/she is a fighter" position is taken, when the awful horrible true portrait of cancer is rarely shown in the media. Its something that all of us are going to have to face in one way or another.

Posted by: jelo | April 14, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Good to see you, ep.

What you all said. Poor Patrick Swayze. I couldn't figure out how to vote in the poll because none of the choices alone worked for me.

Sadly, if the Enquirer hadn't taken that photo, TMZ would have, at multiple angles and with worse headlines and captions.

In an age of declining print media circulation, is the National Enquirer now considered what makes for a successful "business" model? I shudder.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | April 14, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the consensus. I do wonder, though, if Swayze (or his doctor) could have arranged for him to use a private entrance, where he wouldn't be spotted and snapped by the paps. I believe this is a service that cosmetic surgery practices catering to the stars offer.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Though I agree it's good to see what the disease really looks like, not all cancer looks like that.

My husband had Hodgkin's lymphoma (going on 4 years clear!)& never wasted away like that nor did he go bald. He didn't go through radiation so that made a diff, but even through chemo, he only lost a little hair on his temples.

To me, that is a pic of someone either going through a rough treatment, they're done treatment & trying to recover or they're done treatment & have nothing else to do but plan their funeral.

Hope Swayze is the second one.

As for the Enquirer, it sucks but why are we shocked about it or expect them to "pay" for it? IT'S THE ENQUIRER. They're the originators of that stuff.

Weren't they the ones to run the wasting away of Rock Hudson pics & the alleged Elvis in the coffin pics? If not them then it was the Star or the like.

Aren't they their own verb by now? As in "Yeah they totally enquirered Travolta, staked him out at his hangar & caught him sucking face with Cruise."

I guess the updated version would be "TMZ'd." But TMZ is just a mobile, paperless Enquirer as is every other celeb gossip site out there.

If it were the WaPo or CNN or some other fairly reputable site or paper, I'd be much more upset, but should they pay? I dunno, I don't think so. Did they cross a line? Probably. But in this day & age, if they hadn't posted it, TMZ would've or Perez Hilton or whoever the gossip site of the day is.

Posted by: wadejg | April 14, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm not following Swayze's public life at the moment, so my musings may not apply here. But in cases where a celebrity gets a disease and then uses his or her fame to advocate for more research or what-have-you, isn't it two sides of the same coin? Does a star get to put himself in the spotlight when it's potentially advantageous, and then say "no pictures please" when he hasn't been through the full hair-and-makeup routine?

Someone mentioned that Swayze made an appearance on Barbara Walters to talk about his cancer... I am leaning towards saying that this is a tacit agreement to be public, illness and all. But I'm happy to be corrected on the facts.

Posted by: WDC2 | April 14, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

You all know how much I love The Swayze. And never more so than seeing how he has handled his illness with such class and positivism. So it pains me to say this, but The Enquirer is only doing what they do - selling sensationalized information on public figures. I agree with the above poster who said that the best punishment would be that no one buys this issue. Unfortunately, unless the photographer were in a location from which he/she had ben specifically barred, they probably didn't break any laws.

I haven't looked at the pics - I just can't. I've seen relatives fighting (and dying from) cancer, like so many of you, so I know what it looks like.

All our good thoughts to The Swaye and Mrs. The Swayze.

Posted by: jaybbub | April 14, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

This whole thread is kinda like Captain Renault in "Casablanca," shocked to find gambling in this establishment.

National Enquirer is all about pushing the envelope. If they can't pay a mom for a story about her octuplets, they're paying paparazzi to hide in bushes to snap shots.

Patrick Swayze and Farrah Fawcett are near death. They are losing their beauty and grace, like many of us do when we get to that point. It's a fact of life that beauty, vitality and grace are fleeting.

But the notion of privacy at the time of death is not under our control, either. The people who jumped out of the burning World Trade Center had no privacy. The teenage boy gunned down by his mother had no privacy. The Columbine kids had no privacy. Terry Schivo had no privacy.

It's all unfortunate, but not shocking in the least.

By the way, I love Whoopi Goldberg. What a good and true friend she is. I hope Patrick and Farrah are surrounded by lots of good people like that.

Posted by: mdreader01 | April 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I saw Swayze on K street years ago during the Valenti years at MPAA. I am glad I got to see him in person, and do not need the Enquirer or TMZ to show me what he looks like now. The concepts of privacy and dignity are beyond the ken of these media hos.

Posted by: reddragon1 | April 14, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Coming just a couple of days after the crap pulled by TMZ on Woody Harrelson, the Swayze pic really rubs me the wrong way. I saw it last night in the checkout line and thought, "Yep, that's what cancer and chemo do to a body."

Several well-considered comments in this thread. I've though of a couple of alternatives to the choices Liz gave us in the poll.

Choice One: Have pap-seeking paps, that is, paps who stalk paps and post images of them online. Hopefully he images will include booze and drug use at stakeout sites, as well as illegal, dangerous driving. Let's see how the paps like getting papped. Hmmmmm...what's Ashton Kutcher doing these days?

Choice Two, and the one I would consider if I were the Swayze: Have a website devoted to chronicling the progress of my disease. Show everyone how ugly cancer and chemo can be. And if checkout rags like the Enquirer publish pap pictures of me, I'd include them on my web site. that's INCLUDE, not link to. And I would do so without permission and without attribution. Yo, Nat Enquirer, about that $50K you paid for that photo: I'm using it free. WTF are you gonna do? Sue me? I'm dying. You think I care about your effing tort? And which judge or jury would find for your complaint, when, as the subject of the picture, I have the right to the use of my own image, Eff you very much. And the lawyers you rode in on.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I ♥ cryptids!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Idiotic question for Nosy: How do you get the heart in your postings? Are you using extended ASCII characters (ALT-nnn)? Or simply inserting symbols from MS Word, then converting to DOS format and posting in that format?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Just copy/paste the symbol from WordPerfect. Unfortunately, it loses its red color in transition.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Heart is accessed at Control-W 5,170

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Nosy, are you in the legal profession? Lawyers and their admins may be the last WordPerfect holdouts.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Nope, just backwards. I work in WordPerfect, then convert to RTF for those who require Word.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Nope, just backwards. I work in WordPerfect, then convert to RTF for those who require Word.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 4:17 PM
-------------------------------------------
Colleague and I tried that on a contract about 15 years ago when the customer absolutely required docs in Word, NOT WordPerfect. Didn't work so well. Lots of hand jamming, even after the conversion (mostly charts and tables). Then when WordPerfect 7 didn't work so well for producing software documentation, I went over to the Dark Side.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Sas, sometimes I do have to tinker a bit with the formatting after conversion to RTF. Also use HTML for my websites (although sometimes write in WordPerfect, then copy/paste into HTML, then fix). Nobody's complained yet, except me.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Sas, when I started out I used an Apple IIe with WordStar for word-processing (had to work using a huge-old floppy that really was floppy!).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I remember when floppies merited their name. I remember back to the original IBM PC with twin 256K floppy drives. I recall WordStar. My colleague called it TurdStar (She didn't much like it). This was back in the day when hyperlinks were considered to be the bleeding edge, and the Internet consisted solely of .gov, .mil and .edu domains.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Prayers to the Swayze family. Cancer just plain old sucks!! As a number of you have said the face of cancer is not pretty. I've seen friends and family turn skin and bones. I wish Mr. Swayze peace and comfort.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | April 14, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Has the Swayze made a statement about this?
Because I kind of get the feeling he doesn't care. He's been committed to working and living and not really paying too much attention to the tabs.
It was an icky thing to do, but I feel like no action is necessarily called for when the subject himself seems to consider it beneath his notice.

Posted by: otherliz | April 14, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I ♥ Celebritology. Only here can a discussion digress from Patrick Swayze's cancer to Word vs. WordPerfect.

Let's face it, cancer, tasteless tabloids and the Microsoft Office Suite are sourges upon mankind, which we must fight with courage and persistence every day.

Posted by: mdreader01 | April 14, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

mdreader01
Only here can a discussion digress from Patrick Swayze's cancer to Word vs. WordPerfect.

I prefer to think of it not as digressing but rather as stream-of-consciousness. In any event, it sure beats working!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 14, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many people are aware that this is indeed what cancer looks like.
***
i'm well aware of what a cancer patient looks like. my father died from cancer 40 years ago and i shall never forget.
also, my dog frankie and i are hospice volunteers. we see people w/many illnesses that are killing them, including cancer. i don't avert my eyes when i see someone ill. they're still who they are. the concern here as posted by liz was privacy and what punishment, if any, should befall the enquirer for running those photos.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 14, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

They are losing their beauty and grace, like many of us do when we get to that point
***
i disagree as to grace. everyone frankie and i visit has grace. and i'm not talking holy mary mother of grace type grace, but grace. they still have it. it doesn't disappear w/illness.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 14, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Patrick Swayze still looks better than Phil Spector - maybe Phil Spector should sue based on the pictures of him published yesterday.

Honestly, I have a hard time getting riled up about the picture. Diseases tend to ravage people - why should we avert our gaze? I'm more annoyed by Liz Kelly's sanctimony than by the Eniquirer's privacy-invasion.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | April 14, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

They are losing their beauty and grace, like many of us do when we get to that point
***
i disagree as to grace. everyone frankie and i visit has grace. and i'm not talking holy mary mother of grace type grace, but grace. they still have it. it doesn't disappear w/illness.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 14, 2009 6:30 PM
======
Physical grace, not grace of character.
=========

Honestly, I have a hard time getting riled up about the picture. Diseases tend to ravage people - why should we avert our gaze? I'm more annoyed by Liz Kelly's sanctimony than by the Eniquirer's privacy-invasion.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | April 14, 2009 6:37 PM
==========
Wow. While I'm a HUGE fan of your ScarJo cloning rants, I've got to say that you're making too much sense in your post for be to believe you are who say you are.

Posted by: mdreader01 | April 14, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Physical grace, not grace of character.
****
it depends on how that is being defined. and i was referring to physical grace, not a state of mind. few of us are rudolph nureyev. there is beauty and grace in all stages of life. disease doesn't eliminate those qualities. it can change them. but they're still there.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 14, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

You've got to be kidding, Liz. You published pictures of Britney being carted off in an ambulance during a nervous breakdown. Photos taken by helicopter (or men dangling from tree branches, not invasive at all). Just because it's _mental_ illness doesn't mean THAT wasn't waaaay over the line. Yet you justify it by saying that she brought it on herself. She didn't, anymore than Swayze did. Where was your outrage then? Your position isn't based on any actual principle, though you want to pretend it is. You grab your pearls only when it happens to people you like; otherwise, all's fair, as far as you're concerned. C'mon.

Posted by: Georgetown1 | April 14, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

And you published those Britney pictures ad nauseam.

Posted by: Georgetown1 | April 14, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm usually a day poster, but when I got home this afternoon, Too Wong Foo was on the cable. Sniffle.

Posted by: jelo | April 14, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see somebody finally write about this. Aren't there laws in some countries that outlaw what The National Enquirer does? I would like to see legislation in this country to deal with this type of invasion of privacy.

They are way over the line. They are into making money and have ill-informed people with no conscience or regard for others writing and publishing this stuff.

Let us focus energies on good wishes and prayers for Patrick and his loved ones.
I salute you Patrick and keep that beautiful spirit shining. God bless you!

Posted by: stabashnik | April 14, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Liz, a question for you. I know the Enquirer is a tabloid but do you view them as journalists?

Posted by: Guest1234 | April 15, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

The way he looks is not a result of the treatments. "unexplained weight lose" is a symptom of the cancer. My mom died of this cancer June 26, 2007. She was 5'10" and down to 110 lbs!!! This cancer has a 5% survival rate!!! He is lucky that he's lived this long!!! His family must be going through alot!!!
I feel like if you are a celebrity then you have to expect the spotlight!! And everyone is so worried about him, so we want to see how he's doing!!! I am not defending any side. I just know that I worry and want to see his progress!!!

Posted by: fredsgirl29 | April 15, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Patrick Swayze is portraying the reality of the disease by his interviews and starring in this TV series. He is helping to bring it to the national headlines. He chose to do this to give the cancer a face that may help others. Note his recent letter to the POST asking Congress for more cancer funding.

Pancreatic cancer took the lives of both my parents and it is one of the most underfunded of cancers. It is where breast cancer research/treatment was in the 1930s. The 2 year survival rate once diagnosed is 5%. Most do not make it and it is a virtual death sentence. These are true statistics I learned to tell my reps when I went to Capital Hill. Go to www.pancan.org and learn more about what advocacy is going on. I spent 2 days on Capital Hill lobbying my state rep and senators for more funding. I will be one of those that who will fight to make a difference for those that cannot do so anymore.

Posted by: whippetdogs | April 15, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Georgetown1, and am surprised to read so few other letters of agreement. It's hypocritical, Liz, to take NE to task for publishing the Swayze pics, when you gleefully link us to People, US Weekly, Daily Mail, etc...for capturing Amy W., Britney, Lindsay, and all the others for their public foibles and embarrassing and pathetic moments. Just because one is embarrassing vs. sad doesn't make it less intrusive, by the news outlet or by us.

And we're all guilty of enjoying and perpetuating it when we read your chats and links. Let's all just try to be a little more honest about what we're doing, and a little less 'outraged.'

Posted by: Centava2007 | April 15, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

My father died exactly 12 years ago today from pancreatic cancer, and he looked just like that. It's horrible, and to have his photos splashed all over a tabliod is just inhuman. I wish all the best to Mr. Swayze and his family - this is a terrible disease.

Posted by: plawrimore1 | April 16, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Not only did you write about it but you linked the photos! Congratulations, you win hypocrite of the year, now donate all of your salary to cancer research....

Posted by: riggy | April 16, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

My father died of pancreatic cancer in 2006, so Patrick Swayze's fight to survive really resonates with me. He is an inspiringly brave man as well as a fine actor. The National Enquirer can just go to hell.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | April 17, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

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