What does it take to be a tabloid reporter?
Bare minimum requirements demand a Harvard medical degree, five years of psychic training, and a mandatory year spent working at an "I Guess Your Weight' midway booth at Coney Island.
It's this impressive level of training that allows this week's tabloids to bring their impressive diagnostic powers to bear on the burning issues of the day: how much do Angelina Jolie and Bill Clinton weigh?
"Dying Angie" is a sylph-like "76 lbs" – way down from the 87 lbs the tabloids put her at a few weeks ago – and on "hunger strike" after "divorce pushed her to breaking point!" claims the grammatically-challenged 'National Enquirer.'
"Skeletal and near death, Angelina Jolie could survive only by having liquid food suctioned through her nose – and then stuffed down to her stomach," it reports. A mere layman might assume she could just pick up a fork and eat something, but the medically-trained experts at the 'Enquirer' know when force-feeding a liquid diet is a patient's only hope.
Apparently in years past Angie would sometimes leave food untouched outside her bedroom door, and now "if she's really skinny, she must be doing it again," says a source. Must she? Who is that informed insider? It's "a source close to Brad's longtime psychic," the 'Enquirer' reveals. That's what qualifies as an unimpeachable source: someone acquainted with Jolie's estranged husband's psychic? Perhaps that's who's been telling President Trump that attendance at his inauguration broke all crowd records? It would certainly explain a lot.
The 'Enquirer' accompanies its story with a series of photographs showing Jolie's "catastrophic collapse," allegedly falling to the ground. Except the images depict no such thing. On the set of her latest movie, she is shown waving her arms and leaning back dramatically while maintaining perfect balance – but she never hits the floor, because the photographer would have those images; they simply don't exist. Jolie is clearly demonstrating a move, not collapsing.
It's akin to the 'Globe' headline: "Frail Betty White Collapses on 95th Birthday!" accompanied by a photograph of the actress seeming to trip momentarily and stumble a couple of inches before she regained her poise. But that's what qualifies as a "collapse" in the tabloid world these days.
The 'Globe' team of medical reporters grab the cover story with Bill Clinton's "shocking 41 lb weight loss," claiming that the former president is "ravaged by Cancer & Alzheimer's," has "No Hope!" and that "Docs Give Him 7 months To Live." So much expert inside information! How do they know Clinton has lost 41 lbs, and not a mere 40 lbs? Clearly they have a remote monitoring device planted inside his bathroom scales. Cancer and Alzheimer's? Clinton has no doubt given his physicians permission to ignore patient confidentiality and talk freely to the tabloids. Seven months to live? You can take that to the bank. Years of medical reporting expertise ensure 100 per cent accuracy in their longevity predictions. Okay, so Nick Nolte was given "four weeks to live" by the tabloids back in June last year, but he's obviously not reading the tabloids closely enough, or he'd be dead by now.
Forget "alternative facts." This week's tabloids shoot for an entire alternate universe.
After years of compiling lists of stars enduring their "Sad Last Days," the 'National Examiner' this week devotes its cover to a host of stars "Too Tough To Die!" Apparently promised immortal life everlasting are Clint Eastwood, Julie Andrews, Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery, Valerie Harper and Willie Nelson. Plus there's the exciting news of a "Medical Miracle: New Pill Reverses Old Age!" I'm beginning to suspect that the median age of 'Examiner' readers is 95. Of course, there isn't an anti-aging pill, or injection, or any form of therapy yet – just experimentation into removing senescent cells which are associated with the diseases of aging such as heart conditions and eye problems, which even if successful won't make anyone live longer, only healthier. It's fascinating research, but so far hasn't progressed beyond some sprightly-looking mice.
Among this week's plethora of alternative facts: George Clooney and wife Amal are "having a baby"' and Prince Harry has dumped girlfriend Meghan Markle, according to the 'Globe,' while the 'Enquirer' informs us that Kim Kardashian's stolen jewels are "funding terrorists" and Susan Sarandon's "Chipmunk Cheeks" are "clear evidence of plastic surgery." Expect Sean Spicer to soon be insisting on the veracity of all these stories from the podium of the White House press briefing room.
After more than a year of flagrantly biased Trump-loving coverage in the tabloids, it's refreshing to finally see the 'Enquirer' cover this week promise to expose "Trump's top 7 advisers: What They'e Hiding!" Oh my! What scandals and horrors are Trump's inner circle keeping from us? The revelations are truly shocking: KellyAnne Conway "graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science from Trinity College," Rex Tillerson is "a world-class player and deal-maker," national security adviser Michael T Flynn "served in Iraq and Afghanistan," Jared Kushner "proved his bones when he took over his father's New York real estate firm at just 27," and Stephen K Bannon is "a Harvard Business School graduate." It's about time that the public knew these ugly secrets. Thanks, 'National Enquirer,' Watchdog of the People. While exposing the darkest secrets of Trump's "outstanding team," the 'Enquirer' runs a photograph of the president's inner circle in the Oval Office, and takes the liberty of Photoshopping a framed photo of a smiling Trump onto the White House wall, between oil paintings of Abraham Lincoln and classic landscapes. It's a nice touch, producing an alternate reality in a way that would make our new Commander in Chief proud.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative reporting team at 'Us' magazine to tell us that Olivia Culpo wore it best, that Milla Jovovich carries lipstick, makeup and fresh apples in her white leather Prada purse, and that the stars are just like us: they buy fruit, eat frozen yogurt, and haul furniture. Revelatory, as always.
'Us' mag devotes its cover story to "The First Family," referring not to Adam and Eve, but to the Trump clan, bringing us four pages of old childhood photos and such insights as a friend assuring that Tiffany Trump "is a wonderful and kind person," that Donald Jr "partied 'pretty hard' at the University of Pennsylvania," and that President Trump "wasn't really interested in the children until he could talk business with them." What a great dad, an inspiration to fathers everywhere.
People magazine exhumes actress Katherine Heigl from the "Where Are They Now?" file and puts her on its cover with an exclusive story on her "New Baby, New Life." It's her third child, so one can only imagine what a huge life-changing experience that must be, after living with just two children for all those years.
In this alternate universe of alternative facts, at least some facts are indisputable, like the 'Examiner' report that Bigfoot has been sighted repeatedly in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Bigfoot, also known to his close friends as Sasquatch, was seen walking upright by the legendary beast's long-time hunter Shawn Mullins, who saw four of the creatures gathered together. Says Mullins: "I've told some people and they think I'm nuts," No! Say it ain't so.
What's the world coming to when a man can't tell the world what he's seen with his own eyes – like the biggest inauguration crowd ever on Washington D.C.'s National Mall – without being called a liar?
Onwards and downwards . . .