Which photos of Alton Sterling did the media use?

foxnews

There's something different about Fox News's coverage of Alton Sterling, killed by Baton Rouge cops who held him down and shot him in the back.

Can't quite put my finger on it. Read the rest

Humans and robots are on a collision course for a war, says Examiner

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When you’re attacked by an alligator, the National Enquirer has some great advice for you: “Run!”

That’s just one of the really useful survival tips in this week’s helpful tabloids.

Don’t drive - “driving can be hazardous to your health,” the Enquirer claims, noting a medical study that found motorists who drove more than an hour daily were on average six pounds heavier.

“Sleep for health,” advises the National Examiner, which also offers “10 ways to beat menopause” and how to live with “losing a limb.” Is this a problem among their sedentary readership, or has Oscar Pistorius bought a life-time subscription?

But what’s the point of staying healthy, since the world will be ending soon?

“Humans and robots are on a collision course for a war that could break out by the middle of the century," according to the Examiner, which cites experts ranging from a Canadian novelist to Stephen Hawking. Maybe now is a good time to make sure that robots have a five-day waiting period before buying guns - or might the NRA object to that?

The Globe continues its obsession with fat-shaming celebrities who dare gain an extra ounce or two. Candice Bergen is branded a “blue whale,” Jeff Bridges is “fat and sassy,” country singer Blake Shelton is suffering “fat shame” about his “soft belly and man-boobs,” and actress Tara Reid sports a “belly bulge.” “Diet lowers cancer risk” and “teen pounds are lethal,” state two articles on the Globe’s health page, all of which makes me hunger for People magazine’s recipes this week for eggs Benedict, strawberries & cream parfait, and apple rhubarb scones. Read the rest

Parasites are threatening to “destroy the human race” and other tabloid shockers

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Parasites are threatening to “destroy the human race,” claims the National Examiner, which coincidentally is what this week’s tabloid magazines also appear to have in mind.

Just like the Examiner's “evil bugs” with “the power to turn us into zombies,” the tabloids try to burrow into our brains with their latest mindless worm-like ravings.

Comedy legend Robin Williams’ death “is now a murder probe” claims the Globe, reporting that the case has been re-opened as “cops probe brutal murder!”

But read the story and you learn that the case has not be reopened by police; it’s merely Globe’s rent-a-quote “investigators” speculating wildly, accompanied by a disturbing photo purporting to show Williams’ corpse with horrific strangulation marks around his neck. This is the same discredited photo which in 2014 was proven not to be Williams after being traced back to a Spanish website specializing in strangulation. But that hasn’t stopped the Globe reprinting the image, even with its own caution: “the authenticity is in question.” No kidding.

Happy marriages simply aren’t allowed in the tabloids’ version of Hollywood. Jennifer Aniston’s marriage is “in crisis” because husband Justin Theroux is away filming in Australia, claims the Globe, and John Travolta’s marriage to Kelly Preston is heading toward a $275 million divorce, claims the Enquirer, which for years has repeatedly floated this story questioning the actor’s sexuality, in the forlorn hope that one day it may be proven right.

“Hillary will never be President!” screams the Enquirer’s cover, accusing her of treason for leaking US intelligence, bribery for accepting a $145 million Russian “payoff” to the Clinton Foundation, and conspiracy for the Benghazi attack. Read the rest

Gawker files for bankruptcy, will sell itself after $140 million Hulk Hogan lawsuit judgement

Gawker founder Nick Denton talks with his legal team before Hulk Hogan testifies in Florida court, March 8, 2016.
Gawker Media was crushed by the $140 million legal judgment in Hulk Hogan's invasion-of-privacy lawsuit, which we now know was financed by a bitter and resentful Peter Thiel. Nick Denton's gossip news site Gawker.com published a sex tape featuring former wrestler Hulk Hogan, and the former wrestler (real name: Terry Bollea) sued with Thiel's help.

The publishing company is now putting itself up for sale, reports the New York Times, citing an anonymous source. Gawker Media Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday “after a judge overseeing the suit against the company entered the full judgment and denied Gawker’s request for a stay under terms the company could meet.”

Read the rest

How to tell a victim of demonic possession apart from someone with a mental disorder

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It used to be said that photos never lie, back in those simpler, innocent days before Photoshop and Facetune made liars of us all. But as this week’s tabloids show, photos can lie even when they are the unvarnished genuine article.

Richard Simmons, the fitness ‘guru’ whose celebrity seems to continue only in the minds of tabloid editors, is pictured on the National Enquirer’s cover clad in fur-trimmed lingerie and black leggings, while wearing a long black wig, above a headline screaming: “He’s now a woman!”

“Yes, this photo shoot is real!” adds an accompanying caption - a notation that is necessary because veteran Enquirer readers will know how many of its photos are doctored fakes.

Quoting an unnamed “pal,” the Enquirer claims that Simmons has been out of the public eye for the past two years while he transitioned into a woman, having a “secret boob job” and researching “castration surgery.”

Leaving aside for a moment the appalling intrusion into the private life of anyone going through the emotional rollercoaster of gender realignment, just as the Enquirer had previously brutally forced the outing of a transitioning Caitlyn Jenner, Simmons' photo was clearly taken in jest, just as the flamboyant self-publicist Simmons has dressed in women’s attire many, many times before for the camera and on TV.

The fact that Simmons was photographed a week ago wearing a beard should be the first clue that there may be less to this story than appears. Add the fact that in March the New York Daily News reported that Simmons had been kidnapped by his maid, prompting Simmons to emerge from seclusion to assure the world he was fine, and you realize that the 'Sweatin’ to the Oldies' star is the subject of frequently wild speculation. Read the rest

What Amazon's Jeff Bezos thinks about Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker

bez

In this video from the Recode conference, an interesting reveal of what Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos thinks of the legal battle between Peter Thiel and Gawker, with Hulk Hogan as a most unfortunate proxy. Bezos is full of surprising insights here, and offers Thiel some tough love.

The only effective defense public figures like Thiel have against their critics, says Bezos: “Develop a thick skin.”

Read the rest

Saturn’s moon Iapetus will destroy Earth, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Prince Charles is now a serial killer. Having murdered Princess Diana, he recently ordered the assassination of his “secret daughter” who claimed to be next in line for the British throne. That’s the claim in this week’s Globe magazine, which having had fun for the past two years reporting on ”Sarah” - allegedly conceived in vitro by Charles and Diana during a pre-marital fertility test, and implanted by a devious doctor into his wife’s womb - has now killed her off.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Globe declares that “Charles ordered her death.” Presumably because the Tooth Fairy was busy and the Easter Bunny doesn’t do contract hits on innocent women.

There has never been a shred of evidence that the Globe’s mystery Sarah ever existed, let alone died. She appears to have been inspired by a 2011 novel The Disappearance of Olivia, which imagined a fictionalized child of Princess Diana’s growing up in Florida.

Now - surprise, surprise - Sarah has disappeared while traveling on the Greek isle of Crete, and “a special tracking device she always kept hidden in her clothing” has stopped signaling. Read the rest

"World’s toughest duck" has died, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

There’s an epidemic of “pot-eating pooches,” the “world’s toughest duck” has died, a dog named Archer was shot in Oklahoma by an arrow, and your cat can live in a “pur-r-r-r-rfect” replica of the Kremlin.

There’s plenty for the animal-lover to chew on in this week’s tabloids, which also include ads for an “adorable” posable realistic monkey doll, a limited edition figurine of 12 Yorkies crowded on a sofa, and two porcelain Siamese cats decorated in a willow pattern. There’s even a lovable photo of the 200 pound chimp who chewed the face and hands off his owner, and a mosquito bringing the Zita virus, because sometimes cute-and-cuddly nature will get Medieval on your ass.

So will the fact-challenged tabloids, which this week claim that Julia Roberts and George Clooney have been caught cheating, Angelina Jolie is living in “bone disease hell,” the Obamas plan to “ransack the White House,” and John Travolta is a secret “drag queen.”

How were George and Julia "caught cheating”? The National Enquirer found them both on the set of their new movie, Money Monster. Read the rest

Billionaire Peter Thiel secretly funded Hulk Hogan lawsuit against Gawker (Report)

Peter Thiel [Reuters]
Why would billionaire Peter Thiel want to bankrupt Gawker? That's the question circulating today, after Forbes reported that Thiel secretly backed Hulk Hogan's high-profile lawsuit against Nick Denton's publishing empire.

Read the rest

Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling talks censorship and sponsor pressure (1959)

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Mike Wallace interviews the amazing Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, about censorship and marketers trying to push around writers of the TV shows they were sponsoring.

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Stories from the alternate universe inhabited by the tabloid magazines

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Superstring theory suggests there are ten dimensions, while bosonic string theory posits as many as 26 dimensions of spacetime.

But I’ve discovered an additional dimension: the alternate universe inhabited by the tabloid magazines, where the laws of reality rarely apply.

What do Kim Kardashian’s new sex tape, Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss’s celebrity-packed little black book, Janet Jackson’s two secret love children, John F Kennedy’s secret love child and Jennifer Garner’s pregnancy have in common?

They all spring from the quantum mechanics of this week’s National Enquirer, which approaches events with the certainty of Schrodinger’s Cat. If a story could conceivably have happened, that’s good enough for these fact-challenged folk.

Inspired by allegations that Cuba’s Fidel Castro has ordered celebrities’ hotel rooms to be fitted with hidden cameras and listening devices, the Kardashian-bashing Enquirer screams: “Kim in new sex tape shocker,” claiming “she’s caught on film Havana romp with Kanye in Cuba.” But read the story, and you’ll find the Enquirer admitting that “cameras probably caught” the couple - because without evidence the story is sheer conjecture. Read the rest

Beware commercialized feminism -- or embrace it?

beyonce feminism

Laurie Penny reviews Andi Zeisler's ‘We Were Feminists Once’ and considers the progressive dilemma of popularity: how do you turn new popularity into change, when the idea of change is so easily turned into an ersatz commercial product?

As a founding editor of Bitch Magazine, which was first published as a zine in 1996, Zeisler understands the fraught relationship between feminism and pop culture. It’s a relationship of toxic codependency. Activists need the media to help spread the word, even as it pumps out sexist stereotypes; the media, meanwhile, cannot risk losing touch with the zeitgeist. In her introduction, Zeisler describes her book as “an exploration of how the new embrace of marketplace feminism — mediated, decoupled from politics, staunchly focused on individual experience and actualization — dovetails with entrenched beliefs about power, about activism, about who feminists are and what they do.”

However, Penny writes that things have become more nuanced, less monolithic, and that feminists are one again engaging the in the "time-honored tradition" of being too hard on their own movement -- and especially on grassroots creativity that's succeeded despite media indifference.

Granted, as she points out, this newfound feminist populism hasn’t stopped the relentless conservative assault on abortion rights in the United States. Given the tireless work of abortion rights activists, however, perhaps it’s time we stopped blaming feminists for that and started blaming Republicans. The women’s movement has always been good at rebuking itself for every imperfection. The “confidence” promised by Dove body lotion may not be the revolution we have waited for — but feminism could use a little more faith in itself.

Read the rest

In power, Trump will punish the media first

trumppppppp

Last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blithely threatened Jeff Bezos over The Washington Post's investigations of him. It's a preview of exactly what form Trump's authoritarianism would take in government: the use of federal power to intimidate media.

Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using the Washington Post for power. So that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away — he’s worried about me, and I think he said that to somebody ... it was in some article, where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust. Because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much. ...

I’ll tell you what: We can’t let him get away with it. So he’s got about 20, 25 — I just heard they’re taking these really bad stories — I mean, they, you know, wrong, I wouldn’t even say bad. They’re wrong. And in many cases they have no proper information. And they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together. And they’re gonna do a book. And the book is gonna be all false stuff because the stories are so wrong. And the reporters — I mean, one after another — so what they’re doing is he’s using that as a political instrument to try and stop antitrust, which he thinks I believe he’s antitrust, in other words, what he’s got is a monopoly. And he wants to make sure I don’t get in. So, it’s one of those things.

Read the rest

Secret White House economic analysis foresees new Great Depression within months, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

How sick do you have to be to love celebrity magazines?

People mag this week boasts ads promising to treat migraine, lung cancer, psoriasis, exocrine pancreatic deficiency, irritable bowel syndrome, aging, protein deficiency, blisters, allergies, pneumococcal disease and clogged nasal pores. Presumably the advertisers know their audience.

Yet the mag also seems intent on hurrying readers to an early grave with artery-clogging recipes for mustard barbecue ribs and grilled corn with cheese and cayenne, along with ads for cherry and chocolate s’mores, fudge stripe cookies and caramel macchiato.

When Us magazine insists that the stars are just like us - this week they walk their dogs, slurp soup and buy in bulk - it doesn’t mention that they’re also fighting depression and chugging diet pills, both of which are advertised in its pages.

But if you’re not already sick, this week’s tabloids will get you there.

Ten pages jam-packed with Bill Clinton’s alleged mistresses, sex harassment victims and even discredited accusers fill the National Enquirer, which explains “Why Hillary can never be president” because “she covered up predator Bill’s sex crimes.”

It’s a claim that bears consideration, but the Enquirer’s full-nuclear-option attack listing Bill Clinton's 36 alleged victims and “Hillary’s decades of terror and threats against women” may seem just a mite politically motivated. Read the rest

Angelina Jolie on a secret hunger strike to call attention to Syrian refugees, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Pictures never lie, do they?

So there’s no arguing with the graphic video footage that the National Enquirer’s latest edition offers showing singer Prince’s last moments dying in an elevator at his Minnesota mansion, and of a suicidal O.J. Simpson trying to hang himself in his prison cell.

Dramatic images indeed - if the video actually existed, and if the Enquirer had it. Which it doesn’t.

But somehow that doesn’t stop the from littering its cover with photos of Prince sprawled lifeless on an elevator floor, and of prison guards cutting O.J. down from his hand-crafted noose (apparently an impromptu concoction of towels, sheets and old shirts like you might find at a Maker Faire run by Dr Kevorkian.)

Beneath the blazing “World Exclusive” headlines you have to look really closely to find the hidden words: “Photo Recreation” on these pictures. And it’s far from certain that they are recreating video that even exists. Prince had video surveillance at his home studio, but were there cameras in his elevator, and did they film his demise? Prison CCTV cameras may cover hallways, but rarely peer into individual cells. Read the rest

Satirical column removed

summon-stock-lawyer

Yesterday, Esquire published this satirical column by @ProfJeffJarvis, a Fake Steve-style parody of journalism professor and media visionary Jeff Jarvis. The real Jarvis did what any self-respecting open-culture advocate would: he issued a vague legal threat and got it removed, thereby ensuring that something humorless and obscure was read by a far larger audience than it deserved.

If you think a journalism professor could be more thick-skinned and less eager to abuse the norms that protect his trade, you would not be alone. In his response to the imbroglio Jarvis writes that "They are not free — and it most certainly is not responsible journalism — to try to fool the audience about the source of content and to impugn the reputation of a professional along the way."

Alas, he is mistaken. Popehat's Ken White writes that satire does not require that it be identified as such.

Bradbury's Esquire satire is very clearly protected by the First Amendment. I wrote about a case frighteningly on point. Esquire previously did a satirical article with mock quotes from Joseph Farah of WorldNet Daily and author Jerome Corsi. They sued, claiming defamation. The United States Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit crushed their arguments. Remember: only things that could reasonably be understood as provably false statements of fact can be defamatory. Satire is not a statement of fact. In deciding whether something could reasonably be taken as an assertion of fact rather than satire, courts look to what an audience familiar with the publication and players would understand.

Read the rest

Torrents of lava will gush across the Western United States, and other tabloid stunners

bloids21111

[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

Earthquakes, floods, fire, nuclear war and the promise that “the world as we know it will end” in the next 100 days is the cheering news from this week’s National Examiner. You’d think this might warrant the front cover, but buried on page 42 is the news that “Torrents of lava will gush across the Western United States,” and “an earthquake off the coast of Hawaii . . . triggers a tsunami that lashes both sides of the Pacific.” This naturally unleashes “flooding and mudslides” that rupture the San Andreas fault and ignite volcanos at Mount St Helens and Yellowstone Park, igniting a “lake of fire” across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. And that’s just by June. By August expect "a civil uprising” leading to “nuclear holocaust” that “devastates entire countries.” Definitely a good time to stock up on sunscreen, sturdy shoes and an ample supply of burgers.

That’s the optimistic forecast from “the country’s most trusted psychic consultants and religious scholars.” Well, that’s good enough for me. I’m cancelling my Hawaiian vacation and perhaps I’ll spend the summer building an underground shelter. Read the rest

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