Barack Obama's real Kenyan birth certificate has been discovered, President Trump has caught "Russia's White House spy," and actor Robert Wagner has been hit by "grand jury murder charges" – if you believe this week's tabloids.
Alas, it's another basketful of wishful thinking, fact-challenged alternate realities.
"Proof Obama was born in Kenya!" screams the 'Globe' front cover, declaring his Hawaiian birth certificate a forgery, and publishing "the real deal" issued by the Coast Province General Hospital in Mombasa, the Republic of Kenya, on August 4, 1961. The "damning hospital birth certificate" was revealed by Obama's own "brother" – actually, his half-brother, Malik Obama.
It 's a great scoop, except for a few minor details: This is the same Kenyan birth certificate we first saw eight years ago; in the early 1960s the term "Coast Province" was not used, as provinces were still referred to as "regions;" the nation was then called the Dominion of Kenya, not the Republic; Mombasa was part of Zanzibar until 1963; and the attending physician named on the certificate worked in Nairobi, not Mombasa. The alleged certificate also uses American-style date notations – month, day, year – rather than the British-style then used in Kenya: day, month, year. And the certificate looks nothing like any Kenyan birth certificate of its time.
Apart from that, it's a good story.
Robert Wagner has finally been brought to justice for killing his wife, Natalie Wood, the 'Globe' claims on its cover. Except when you read the story inside, it turns out to be more wishful thinking. "Robert Wagner MUST be indicted," pleads the opening sentence. "New grand jury MUST target Robert Wagner," screams a headline. Why is that, you wonder? "Damning new forensic evidence and chilling photos 'implicating' the actor . . . have finally surfaced."
Except they haven't. It's just an unnamed "source close to the cold-case probe" citing unnamed "investigators" who claim that "marks found on her body prove she was choked into unconsciousness and 'rolled off' her yacht." But Natalie Wood, who spent hours in the ocean before her body was recovered in 1981, was covered in bruises when found. The coroner believed she had fallen off the yacht, and it's clearly difficult to distinguish between bruises from falling off a yacht and being 'rolled off' it. Old bruises hardly constitute new proof. But wait! The 'Globe' reveals that "a secret witness is ready to step forward – and doom Wagner for good!" It's deus ex machina journalism at its best. I bet the butler did it.
The 'National Enquirer' cover proudly tells us that "Trump Catches Russia's White House Spy!" and "Now he's spilling Putin's secrets." Who is this nefarious operative trapped by spy-catcher-in-chief Trump? It's "White House mole Michael Flynn!" crows the 'Enquirer.' Excuse me? It's true that Trump ousted National Security Advisor Flynn in February after it was revealed that he had met with Russian officials and discussed sanctions, and had then lied about it. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer made clear that Flynn had been axed "not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue" after "trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded . . . " It was only after investigations by the FBI, the U.S. Army, and multiple media outlets, that Flynn resigned. But he was hardly "caught" by Trump. And though Flynn seems to have had more ties to Russia than he let on, calling him a "spy" may be a stretch.
But the 'Enquirer story then mysteriously focuses on "KGB spymaster-turned-U.S.-defector Jack Barsky." Born Albrecht Dittrich, Barsky was sent by the KGB to spy on America in 1978, and was identified to the FBI as a spy in 1992. But Barsky was never charged, having apparently given up espionage by then, and later even wrote a book about life as a KGB spy in America. He's made no secret of his past, yet the 'Enquirer' headline screams that Barsky is "Hiding in Atlanta Lair." But Barsky, outed as a spy 25 years ago, can hardly be said to have been caught by Trump, any more than Flynn was caught by Trump. It's all just anti-Russia scare-mongering nonsense.
The 'Enquirer' also brings us a center-spread proclaiming: "Janet Jackson Love Child Shocker!" The headline continues: "Secret DNA test brings 31-year mystery to a jaw-dropping conclusion!" It's the antique story alleging that Janet Jackson gave up a baby at birth three decades ago, and then-boyfriend James DeBarge volunteered his DNA sample to prove that Tiffany Whyte of Philadelphia is their love child. And the "jaw-dropping" conclusion? "The life-shattering scientific report determined there is literally ZERO chance of paternity between James and Tiffany," reports the 'Enquirer' – in the 14th paragraph of the non-story. Well, there's a surprise.
At least there's fun and games to be had with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. "Jen & Ben Are Having Twins!" claims the 'Globe,' reporting that the couple are visiting a fertility doctor. But wait: The 'Enquirer' reports that they are still split, and "She'll take him back only if he can dry out and get in shape" after a stint in rehab. Hang on though – 'Us' magazine reports that Affleck and Garner are "putting the children first," dropping their children off at school and taking them to church – but still living apart, though sharing the same three-acre Pacific Palisades property – Ben in the guesthouse, and Jen in the main mansion. "They are not a couple by any means," says an "insider." They must also be exhausted reading so many conflicting tabloid and celebrity mags each week.
Fortunately we have 'Us' magazine's crack team of investigative reporters to tell us that Julie Bowen wore it best, singer Vanessa Carlton carries dried sage and matches in her Clare V fanny pack (to purify hotel rooms – though one suspects she burns this in "no smoking" rooms), and that the stars are just like us: they eat take-out, play softball, and spread jam on scones (because that's how celebrities roll.)
'People' magazine devotes its cover to the mystery behind one-time "fitness guru" Richard Simmons' supposed disappearance, not seen in public in nearly three years. The mag promises "the real story," but offers only speculation and denials. Simmons' publicist insists that the 68-year-old is fine. Simmons' brother Lenny agrees: "My brother is fine" and is just tired of the limelight. And then 'People' recites all the old concerns: a 911 call last summer after Simmons exhibited "bizarre" behavior, knee surgery, the death of his beloved Dalmatian,and shying away from friends. It's a litany of old accusations, but "the real story" it's not.
Onwards and downwards . . .