ISIS is under attack from UFOs -- and other tabloid stunners

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What do crystal bracelets inspired by Michelle Obama, a John Wayne commemorative beer stein, a viagra substitute, a Life Alert alarm, and mustache hair remover - for women - have in common?

They’re all ads in this week’s 'National Enquirer,' whose demographic appears to be aging frail bearded Democratic women and alcoholic men with erectile dysfunction. That might begin to explain the tabloid’s dubious connection to reality, and why Donald Trump is reportedly “very close” to ‘Enquirer' chief executive David Pecker, even writing several pieces for the rag during his presidential campaign: they share an equally tenuous relationship with the truth.

Angelina Jolie’s divorce from Brad Pitt dominates this week’s tabloids, but only the ‘Enquirer’ boasts “world exclusive first photos” of Brad entering a hotel just weeks ago with ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, exposing their “secret rendezvous.” But look hard at the “world exclusive” photo - single, not plural as the ‘Enquirer' promises - and you’ll see in tiny print the words: “Photo Recreation.” In other words, the Enquirer has a world exclusive photo of two lookalikes shown from the rear entering a hotel, and no photos of Pitt and Aniston together anywhere. Because it probably never happened.

Trump’s pal Pecker is also CEO of the ‘Globe’ tabloid, which this week carries ads for a ‘Granddaughter, I Love You’ “heirloom” music box (though it won’t become an heirloom until you pass it down to your beloved granddaughter), Count Cat-ula figurine (a vampire cat, of course), and portable oxygen tank “that will never weigh you down.” The ‘Globe’ shares the same scant relationship with the truth as the ‘Enquirer.' Its cover revisits the 20-year-old murder of infant pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey, in headlines screaming: “JonBenet Dad’s Confession to Cops!” Did John Ramsey really confess to killing his daughter? Read the rest

How low will America’s tabloids stoop to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign?

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Just look at this week’s ’National Enquirer’ cover, breathlessly billed as “The story that will doom Hillary.”

Under the heading “World Exclusive,” the headline screams: “Bill Groped Me On Campaign Jet - and Hillary Did Nothing!”

Campaign flight attendant Cristy Zercher is horrified that Bill Clinton allegedly hugged her from behind and placed a hand on her breast. On another occasion she claims to have opened the plane's toilet door to find Bill standing with his fly unzipped, though exposing nothing.

The cover photo of Hillary Clinton’s campaign plane leaves no doubt that Hillary is sex-fiend Bill’s enabler-in-chief.

I almost hate to mention it, but there are just one or two minor details of this ground-breaking story that I’d like to take issue with.

Like the fact that this “world exclusive” first appeared in the 'Star' tabloid in March 1998. That Zercher’s harassment allegedly occurred on Bill Clinton’s campaign plane 24 years ago - not on Hillary’s current campaign jet. And even Zercher confessed that the reason Hillary “did nothing” was because she was asleep at the time of the alleged incident. Let’s note that much of Zercher’s new “world exclusive interview” appeared word-for-word 18 years ago. We’re not supposed to recall that Zercher was interviewed by the Washington Post in July 1994 and never mentioned being harassed by Bill Clinton, saying only that he had flirted with her. Is it churlish to point out that TV news show ‘Inside Edition’ ran a two-night special on Zercher’s claims in April 1998, and revealed that she not only flunked a lie detector test, but “failed miserably,” according to show spokesperson Jan Murray. Read the rest

Trump's supposedly going to denounce birtherism. Will the media wash his hands for him?

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Millionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump was a vocal birther—someone who insinuates Barack Obama was not born in the United States—until at least 2014. Today, he's supposedly going to denounce this position for good, following some recent equivocation on his part.

Adds Trump: "We have to keep the suspense going."

This sort of statement enrages liberals because it reminds them of how easily Trump manipulates the political media's hunger for a horse race—especially now he's neck and neck with rival Hillary Clinton in national polls and there's no sign of them realizing he understands them better than they understand him.

The fear today is of equivocating headlines such as "Trump, Clinton trade accusations on Birtherism," allowing him the plain lie of a she-did-it-first controversy.

But days of Trump benefiting from a smarmy rehabilitation narrative, when the most nakedly racist dogwhistle in American politics is still glistening with his saliva, is what's almost too much to bear. Here's Josh Marshall:

Accusing his opponent of whatever he is accused of is one of the three key tools in Trump's media arsenal, used over and over again to amazing effect (the others: "I'll tell you tomorrow" and "Something's going on.") Journos are defensively, cynically attached to a supposedly objective voice from nowhere that conceals editorial judgment in the framing of subject matter, and Trump's been doing well since Hillary switched her focus to the "Romney moderates" most influenced by it. Read the rest

Rogue planet hurtling toward a collision with Earth and other tabloid stunners

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It’s hard to be disturbed by this week’s tabloid revelations that Hillary Clinton is dying, Robert Wagner has been arrested for murdering Natalie Wood, and Tom Hanks’ marriage is imploding in a $355 million divorce battle, when the 'National Examiner' reveals that a “phantom planet” is heading our way and will “destroy Earth.”

You’d think that might be big news, but the end of the world doesn’t even merit a mention on the Examiner’s own cover, instead devoted to “The Royals Nobody Knows,” with the revelation that Prince William and wife Kate will “drag the dusty old royals into the modern world.” Not that there will be a world left for the royals to enjoy, if the Examiner’s crack scientific reporting team is correct in its analysis of a “new video of a rare blood moon” which supposedly shows that “a rogue planet is hurtling toward a collision with Earth.” The ‘Examiner’ seems unconcerned that the video doesn’t show a hidden planet, which doesn’t exist in reality and has been widely debunked in all but the most paranoid corners of the interwebs.

It’s about as realistic as everything else in this week’s tabloids, however, which seem to have given up even attempting a semblance of accuracy.

“Robert Wagner Murder Arrest!” screams the ‘Globe’ cover, with a photo of the actor in handcuffs. Search hard, and you’ll find in tiny print the word: “Dramatization.” Search within, and you’ll find that Wagner has not even been arrested - that’s simply what the ‘Globe’ believes should happen, as it refuses to stop beating this long-dead horse. Read the rest

"Closing the book", Gawker releases data on traffic and posting statistics

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Josh Laurito offers a fascinating look at the internals of a top-flight blog. Gawker, bankrupted by the Hulk Hogan lawsuit verdict and having sold off all its blogs (except Gawker.com itself) to Univision, is to cease publication this week.

Since it’s not totally clear to me what will happen to the site’s archives or how long I will have access to data about the site, today seems like a good time to jot down some of the numbers we have about our writers, our community, and posts.

Read the rest

Daily Mail reporter poses on Syria front lines with assault rifle

isis

British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail posted a photo of reporter Mark Nicol on the Syrian front lines posing with an assault rifle. This is bad for numerous reasons, but the main one is that it casts western reporters as mercenary participants and invites summary execution upon capture.

Hope you can shoot straight, Mark! Read the rest

President Obama’s “Wild White House Orgy!” and other tabloid stunners

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Farewell, Nick Nolte. We’ll miss you.

We loved you in ’48 Hrs’ and ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills.’ You were masterful in ‘The Thin Red Line’ and ‘Cape Fear.’

It’s sad, but at the age of 75 you’ve lived a good life, enjoyed your share of drink and drugs, and earned three richly-deserved Academy Award nominations.

But now it’s time to go.

A month ago the 'National Enquirer' gave you four weeks to live, and now your time’s up. A good actor knows when to leave the stage. I know you’re looking hale and hearty, but the ‘Enquirer' equates your unkempt hair and occasional disheveled attire with mental decay and imminent death, and their team of highly trained medical correspondents couldn’t possibly be wrong could they? I know you have a new TV series, ‘Graves,’ debuting in October, but the ‘Enquirer’ wants you in a grave of your own. II know you wouldn’t want to make liars out of the good and decent folks at the ‘Enquirer.’ I’m sure your fans can trust you to do the right thing.

The good news, Nick, is that you won’t be alone in the morgue. Jack Nicholson is also on his last legs, according to the ‘Enquirer,’ which claims ‘Dying Jack’s love child fights for $400 million fortune.’ Nicholson allegedly fathered a daughter in Denmark 35 years ago, and his “face would light up” whenever she was around, though he never publicly acknowledged her. But now Jack is at death’s door - or at least, his family is reportedly "worried about his cholesterol" - and that’s always the cue for a good old fight over a star’s fortune. Read the rest

Univision to buy Gawker for $135m

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Univision won the auction for Gawker Media with a $135m bid, reports Peter Kafka.

... the auction is a disappointing conclusion for Gawker Media owner Nick Denton, who founded the company in 2002. Last year, as rival media companies like Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox Media (which owns this site) were raising money at increasingly high valuations, Denton was arguing that his company was worth $250 million or more.

The price was depressed by the circumstances of the sale: a $140m award against it after publishing a Hulk Hogan sex tape and losing the subsequent lawsuit, which was secretly funded by vengeful billionaire Peter Thiel. Though experts generally expect Gawker to prevail on appeal, it was forced into bankruptcy by the penalty and the only other bidder was Ziff Davis, at $90m.

This weds Gawker to The Onion and Fusion in the Univision website stable; The Onion is very much its own thing, but Fusion's web presence is quite similar to Gawker itself and one wonders will it blend? Read the rest

Alex Jones shouting "NEVER!" for an hour

alexjones

The conspiracy-minded talk host, boiled down to the essentials and taken to infinity. (Original clip via @immolations)

Read the rest

Important man's African-American colleague wins Olympic medal

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At the Olympic games in Rio, The Mercury News reports that top U.S. swimmer "Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American."

The subject of The Mercury News's unspecific racial disinterest is in fact Stanford junior Simone Manuel, who not only has a name and is neither Phelps' sister or wife, but is the gold medal winner in the 100-meter freestyle event.

The Mercury News later apologized for its "insensitve headline." Read the rest

Ferocious bipedal dog-like beast prowling American forests! says tabloid

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You know the National Enquirer doesn’t believe its own story that it has found child beauty pageant murder victim JonBenet Ramsey’s killer when it relegates the story to a sliver at the bottom of its cover, and concludes that based on the alleged murderer's purported diary “authorities need to take a closer look at him as a potential suspect.”

People magazine doesn’t hesitate to devote its cover to JonBenet, promising “new twists in a 20-year mystery,” yet after police have reviewed more than 1,400 pieces of evidence, probed more than 140 suspects, and generated more than 50,000 pages of documents, “the case remains unsolved.” New twists? CBS is filming a TV series on the case, and JonBenet’s brother Burke is being interviewed by TV’s Dr. Phil next month. In other words: nothing new.

The Enquirer continues its assassination of “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, devoting this week’s cover to “Clinton’s secret health crisis.” Evidently she has suffered a “mental breakdown,” and is “eating herself to death,” having allegedly gained 103 lbs since announcing her candidacy for the White House. Her supposedly ravenous appetite for food, prescription drugs and alcohol have “caused her butt to balloon at least 20 inches in the three weeks since the Democratic National Convention, reports the Enquirer. You have to admire the Enquirer’s intrepid reporters, who each week must surreptitiously slip a tape measure around Hillary Clinton’s thighs, tracking every fluctuation in her adipose tissue. That’s investigative journalism at its best. As if that wasn’t bad enough, “she’s covering up a brain injury,” and dealing with her husband’s medical collapse “as dying Bill battles Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s” diseases, the Enquirer claims. Read the rest

Tabloid warning: "Children with soulless black eyes terrorize residents foolish enough to let them in"

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What’s in celebrity handbags this week? Is it lip gloss and sunglasses? Car keys and chewing gum? We’ll never know, because Us magazine this week deprives us of its weekly feature ‘What’s in my purse?’ which gives “celebrities" aspiring to rise to the D-List the opportunity to fill their tote bags with healthy snacks they’d never usually eat, products they’re paid to promote, and books they’d like to be seen reading. Has Us mag run out of celebrities? Has this window into stars’ private lives become too intrusive? Or could it be because every "celebrity” purse carries the same dull, predictable contents week after week? And why have we seen inside dozens of celebrities’ purses yet never encountered a single one with any condoms, soiled Kleenex, or medication for their bipolar disorder? They can’t have dropped the feature because there’s too much real news, because that’s one thing sorely lacking in this week's celebrity magazines and tabloids.

O.J. Simpson attempted a jail break, scooping out a shallow trench beneath the razor wire surrounding Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center, claims the Globe, which says that he was caught red-handed. It’s hard to imagine that one of the most recognizable inmates in the US prison system would try to escape under the eye of 213 prison guards and CCTV into a flat expanse of desert without any accomplices outside to help him flee, yet that’s what the Globe would have us believe. Or maybe he was just walking too close to the fence, and tripped? Read the rest

How a cooked Assange quote ended up media gospel

Julian Assange. Image: Reuters.

Wikileaks, the clearing house for state secrets, seems more about founder Julian Assange's grudges these days: especially the one for Hillary Clinton. Much fuss was made over a quote—that he had "enough evidence" to guarantee an indictment of her—that was widely attributed to him. It turns out, though, that the quote doesn't check out: most point to a mangled interview on the UK's ITV where it isn't even said. Jesse Singal set out to track down a source that no-one bothered to verify. It's a surprisingly tantalizing and teasing journey, but the tl;dr seems to be that the quote was originally fabricated by the blog Zero Hedge. Read the rest

Deep-fried Oreos, beer ravioli, chocolate-covered bacon are tabloid favorites

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The lost continent of Atlantis has been discovered, and the grammatically-challenged National Examiner reveals: “descendants of Atlantis still roaming the streets today.” It’s probably too late for Atlantians to be accredited to compete in the Summer Olympics, but Atlantis survivors will be delighted to know that their homeland isn’t a mythological fiction after all - which is more than can be said for much of the offerings in this week’s tabloids.

Former kidnap victim and 18-year prisoner Jaycee Dugard faces a “new nightmare” and “desperate fight to protect her kids” after learning that her abductor may be eligible for early release . . . in 2036, at the age of 85. That’s actually when kidnapper Phillip Garrido would become legally eligible for parole, but since he was sentenced to 431 years behind bars, the Enquirer’s fears may be slightly overblown.

That’s equally true for Amal Clooney’s “secret pregnancy,” as the Enquirer claims: “George Clooney’s wife hoping a baby will save their rocky marriage.” Has she announced her pregnancy? Of course not! “Insiders have exclusively claimed” that she is expecting, which in reality means that a recent photograph of Amal showed her with the merest hint of a paunch, and in the mythical world of the tabloids that’s as good as a pink + on a pregnancy test strip.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have “Split!” according to the Enquirer cover, though inside the report backtracks to claim only that they “are on the brink of a nasty divorce.” Why? Because Rita allegedly threw a fit over her wardrobe selection at a photo shoot. Read the rest

Roundup of newspapers that illustrated Hillary Clinton's nomination with pictures of her husband

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The excuses for this come prepackaged: it's what was on the photo wires, his was the great speech of the night, it illustrates a moment of transition in politics, etc. Read the rest

100 yard-long kraken surfaces near Antarctica, and other tabloid stunners

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“It’s war!” screams the cover of Us magazine.

Forget Iraq and Afghanistan, Syria and Nigeria. It’s Kim Kardashian vs Taylor Swift that has Us mag so excited, after the reality TV queen called the singer a “f--king liar.”

People magazine also gets in on the war reporting as Kim and Tay’s “feud explodes” after Kim videoed husband Kanye West asking Swift’s permission to include a song lyric saying they might have sex - but failed to tell Taylor that he was going to call her a “bitch" that he made famous. Therein lies the philosophical difference that evidently is the pop culture equivalent of assassinating the Archduke of Austro-Hungary.

The Globe is preoccupied with another battle-front: “Queen Kate’s War With Di’s Brother!” Ignoring for a moment the fact that Kate is neither Queen, nor will she be even when HRH Queen Elizabeth pops her royal clogs, Duchess Kate is supposedly outraged that Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer, is renting out his stately home - and Diana’s last resting place - to well-heeled tourists. for up to $40,000- a-night. Perhaps the Globe is forgetting that Buckingham Palace is currently open to visitors until October 1 for a mere 37 pounds (about $49)?

A “Top Secret GOP Convention Plot” to ensure that Donald Trump wins the presidential election is exposed by the National Enquirer. I’m not sure how secret a “convention plot” can be when it’s being televised live every day, but the Enquirer nevertheless reveals Trump’s “7-Step Plan to destroy Hillary.” This supposedly involves the GOP exposing seven dark secrets about the Democratic candidate and her husband, including Hillary’s alleged “lesbian shenanigans,” her spell in an Illinois mental hospital “following a nervous breakdown caused by Bill’s cheating,” Bill’s illegitimate love child with an ex-lover, exposing Monica Lewinsky’s secret diaries, and Hillary’s secret pact to divorce Bill if she loses the election. Read the rest

Demonic possession on the rise in America, and other tabloid stunners

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Dark smoke rings hover in the sky over Zurich, Leamington Spa in England, and even Disneyland.

Are they naturally occurring air vortices, or thermal microbursts as some meteorologists believe?

Of course not.

“They came from another dimension!” explains the National Examiner, whose crack science team reports: “Some believe they are UFOs or a sign of some supernatural presence.”

That’s about as logical as everything else in this week’s factually-challenged tabloids and celebrity magazines.

“Hillary failed secret FBI lie detector!” screams the National Enquirer’s front page, claiming that she failed to tell the truth about sending military secrets on her private email server. Pot, meet kettle. Hillary Clinton never took a polygraph test when testifying before the FBI. Rather, the Enquirer simply fed audio of some of her public statements through a purported stress detector, which I’m guessing came with its own decoder ring, cape and mask when you send $2.99 and ten cereal box tops. It was a “secret” test because nobody except the Enquirer knew she was taking it, raising forensic science to new levels.

Just as former ‘Friends’ star Jennifer Aniston was publicly raging this week against tabloid intrusion, lies and the perpetuation of unrealistic body images, the Enquirer obliged by reporting “Aniston’s boob job to save her rocky marriage . . . “ Declared Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr Susan Evans: “Jennifer’s breasts look much fuller than they used to.” Because a plastic surgeon just won’t do. It takes a certified dermatologist to determine if mammary glands look larger. Read the rest

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