“Ted Cruz Father Linked to JFK Assassination!” and other tabloid stunners

[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]

All politics is showbusiness these days, so it’s no surprise that this week’s tabloids and celebrity magazines are knee-deep in matters of state, displaying their usual gifts for gravitas, balance and fairness.

Ted Cruz’s father is linked to JFK’s assassination, Michelle Obama is working to destroy Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie plans to run for Congress, and Hillary reveals that she likes Goldfish and hot sauce, we are told in what passes for political coverage.

“Ted Cruz Father Linked to JFK Assassination!” screams the National Enquirer’s typically ungrammatical cover, boasting a “world exclusive investigation.” Photos obtained by the Warren Commission purportedly depicting Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald distributing Communist-leaning pro-Castro pamphlets three months before he shot the president show the killer posed next to a man who for 52 years has remained unidentified by federal investigators - but who the Enquirer now claims is Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz. The magazine employed “a group of world-renowned experts in photography and facial recognition” to reach their verdict: “The man in the frame is indeed Rafael."

How positive are these experts? Not very. “There’s more similarity than dissimilarity,” says veteran photo analyst Mitch Goldstone, hardly giving the image a ringing endorsement. The Enquirer also wins the dubious imprimatur of “renown court-certified expert witness” Dr Carole Lieberman, who says: “The photos of Rafael Cruz all seem to match.” But wait a second - Dr Lieberman is an author and psychiatrist, not an expert witness in facial recognition or photo analysis. Chicago plastic surgeon Dr Otto Placik tells the Enquirer “The photos are difficult to decipher,” and that the man pictured alongside Oswald has "thinner lips, a weaker jaw and a more prominent brow” than Rafael. But the Enquirer doesn’t let that keep them from a good slur.

Michelle Obama is “out to kill off hated Hillary’s campaign!” alleges the Globe, claiming that the current First Lady is a Bernie Sanders supporter working secretly to undermine the former First Lady. Michelle has never forgiven Hillary for the bruising 2008 presidential campaign, the mag claims, and calls Clinton “Hillbilly Hill” behind her back. But how exactly is Michelle trying to torpedo Hillary? The Globe hasn’t quite figured out that part yet, floating the idea that she is “compiling a secret dossier of Hillary’s mistakes.” Oh, that’ll hurt. Michelle is also allegedly campaigning to turn Democratic powerbrokers against Clinton. I think the Globe won’t be satisfied with anything less than a mud-wrestling Michelle vs Hillary catfight on primetime TV.

The Globe takes a week off from screaming that Angelina Jolie is near death from an eating disorder, instead revealing her “ten-year scheme” to run for Congress. But as anyone who reads the tabloids knows, Jolie only has months left to live, so such long-term plans seem moot. But the Globe warns: “It may not be smooth sailing - George Clooney may also be considering a run.” Then we’ll have a Jolie vs Clooney electoral race that’s sure to garner some serious political coverage in the tabloids.

Us magazine’s indefatigable investigative team this week bring us their exclusive cover story about Hillary Clinton: “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me.”

Among the shockingly unexpected revelations: “I’ve been coloring my hair for years.” Hillary confesses that she can’t sing, likes hot chile peppers, loves the Beatles and Adele, chocolate and Goldfish snacks, and twice rejected Bill Clinton’s proposal before accepting. How Us mag was overlooked when the Pulitzer prizes were handed out this week is beyond me. This is the same crack reporting team that this week tells us that actress Jennifer Carpenter carries vegetable soup, toothpaste and lip balm in her leather Tumi rucksack, that Emma Roberts wore it best, and the stars are just like us: they get parking tickets, eat corn on the cob, go jogging, and shop at supermarkets.

People magazine anoints Jennifer Aniston as "The World’s Most Photoshopped Woman,” though through some inexplicable editing error the printed cover actually says “World’s Most Beautiful Woman.” But readers are left in no doubt that the wrinkle-free 47-year-old, with flawless baby-smooth glowing skin beaming from every photograph, is all natural. Her secret to looking good: yoga, spin classes, cardio, drinking hot lemon water, protein shakes, seared ahi tuna and imbibing water all day. For some reason she doesn’t mention good genes and great Photoshopping. With all those smoothies, lemon water and bottled smartwater, she must also boast a cast iron bladder.

Leave it to the National Examiner to bring us the week’s most important news: “Planet X will end life on Earth!” That’s a “top scientist’s chilling warning,” apparently, and you’d think that the world’s imminent destruction might merit front page coverage rather than being buried on page 42. Maybe they’re trying not to scare us. We’ve actually been hearing claims about this alleged planet, supposedly orbiting just beyond Pluto, for several decades. Despite the abject failure of scientists to actually find this celestial object with an estimated mass ten times that of the Earth, the Examiner assures us it’s out there, and about to fling deadly comets heading our way.

I, for one, will be glad if they hit Earth before we have to endure any more of this unending barrage of what passes as political coverage.

Onwards and downwards . . .