We may be living in a "post-truth" culture where feelings trump facts (and Trump ignores facts) but the tabloids have been living there for years, and this week's tabloid flights of fantasy are no different.
"Drugs tearing Keith & Nicole Apart," claims the 'National Enquirer' in an exposé about Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban – except the story is about an alleged former drug dealer's "fears" that Urban is "teetering on the brink of a devastating relapse." In other words Kieth is still straight and sober as far as the Enquirer knows, and a dubious source who admits not seeing Urban for 15 years is worried. Post-truthism at its finest.
As is the 'Enquirer' exclusive proclaiming: "Prince Harry Cross-Dressing Disaster!" Has Britain's most politically incorrect Royal taken to fishnets and stilettos? No such luck. Though the 'Enquirer' claims that Harry is "caught in a shocking cross-dressing scandal," actually it's his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, whose "brother" is revealed in photos wearing a dress and fake breasts. Actually it's Markle's mustachioed half-brother, and the photo clearly shows he's wearing the dress for a lark, not as some lifestyle statement. There's no scandal, and no way that Prince Harry is somehow entangled in it.
"Drugs Driving Kanye Insane!" screams another 'Enquirer' headline, claiming that the singer's hospitalization for "exhaustion" was sparked when "sky-high on booze and a cocktail of drugs." Based on what? A source claims: "He's got big problems!" True, but that doesn't necessarily make his breakdown drug-related. Where are the facts?
Post-truthism has been prevalent in recent political coverage, and this week's tabloids continue that laissez-faire approach. "Hillary, Bill & Chelsea Indicted!" screams the front page of the 'Globe.' What? Did you miss that story in the New York Times or Washington Post? That's because the Clintons haven't been indicted. Period. "Clinton Clan's Going to Prison!" reads the headline above the story claiming the former First Family face "federal fraud and bribery charges" for allegedly using Clinton Foundation funds to finance their own lavish lifestyles. There are certainly serious questions for the Clintons to answer, but predicting the future because of an editorial political stance should hardly be a reporter's guiding star.
"Muslim Spies in Obama's CIA!" proclaims the 'Enquirer' cover, alleging that 55 "double agents" have been found within the spy agency. Setting aside for a moment the accuracy of this claim, the 'Enquirer' seems to have forgotten that these alleged traitors have been uncovered on President Obama's watch, and that our current president may be happy knowing that he can feed these spies misinformation and keep them isolated. Instead, the 'Enquirer' seems to think that this is president-elect Donald Trump's triumph, and reports: "He's ready to crush them!" CIA officials allegedly gave Trump a report code-named "Deep Cleanse" designed to flush out double-agents, and a source explains: "They've been working on it for months." In other words, Obama's administration has been working on it for months. But the Trump-loving 'Enquirer' could never praise Obama, so their headline proclaims: "Trump's Islamic Spy Attack Plan Is A Go!" It's revisionist history before it even happens – quite a neat trick.
Convicted killer and legendary "wall of sound" record producer Phil Spector "has only six weeks to live" claims the 'Enquirer.' Let the countdown begin! Meanwhile, the last time I looked Nick Nolte was still alive, even though the 'Enquirer' gave him four weeks to live way back in July. What's taking him so long?
Among other fact-challenged reports, the 'Enquirer' claims that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's adopted sons Maddox and Pax may have to be returned to their biological parents after the celebrity couple's split, Barack and Michelle Obama are divorcing, and Melissa McCarthy's marriage is on the rocks because her husband Ben was seen talking with Jennifer Aniston, while the 'Globe' claims that Caitlyn Jenner is drowning "in a sea of booze." Intriguing stories, lacking any evidence, but doubtless written because they just feel right, and that's what's important in modern journalism.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' magazine to tell us that Busy Philipps wore it best, Katheryn Winnick (Who she, Ed?) carries mascara, fluffy socks and a Costco card in her Cambridge Satchel Company tote, that Elizabeth Hurley "used to want to be a nun," and that the stars are just like us: they shop, play soccer, eat nachos and snap selfies. Revelatory, as usual.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are "under pressure," claims 'Us' mag's cover, stating the obvious, while 'People' magazine brings us "Kennedy Secrets" and "What Jackie Really Knew," revealing nothing that we didn't know before.
As ever, the 'National Examiner' brings us word that alien life is trying to contact Earth, under the headline: "Scientists See the Light, And It's Coming From E.T.!" It goes on to explain that "mysterious signals from the stars may prove aliens are trying to contact us!" Indeed, light pulses have been detected in the distant universe, which the 'Examiner' reports "looks like signals from extraterrestrial intelligence." Or perhaps they're not signaling Earth at all? Maybe it's just a galactic-scale disco strobe light, or the finale of a Hotblack Desiato-fronted Disaster Area concert?
Onwards and downwards . . .