This week's tabloids feel like a fact-free zone more than ever.
Val Kilmer will be "dead before Christmas!" reveals the National Enquirer, whose team of psychic actuaries are never wrong. Let's just try to forget the Enquirer headline in February 2015 warning that Kilmer "may have just months to live." Or the June 2015 headline that Kilmer will be "Dead by the End of the Summer." Or the December 2015 headline stating that Kilmer has "3 Months to Live."
Sooner or later they'll be right, of course, and will congratulate themselves, just as the latest Enquirer cover brags "WE TOLD YOU terrorists would attack New York." Well, three weeks ago they did predict that, along with attacks on Mt Rushmore, Hoover Dam, Disney World, Dollywood, The Grand Ole Opry, the Statue of Liberty, New Orleans, Wrigley Field and a host more sites. Sooner or later, they were bound to be right.
This week the Enquirer cover gives us the identical story it gave us last month – a list of obvious potential terrorist targets – under the headline: "Where ISIS Will Strike Next!" It's lazy, self-aggrandizing nonsense. "Destinations like Las Vegas and New Orleans are considered 'dens of debauchery' by fundamentalist terror cells and are also 'hot targets,'" the Enquirer adds gleefully.
Equally fact-challenged is the Globe cover story reporting that President Obama's daughter Malia was "Questioned in FBI Probe!" after working as a summer intern for the sex-abuse-beleaguered Weinstein Company. But when you read the story, you learn that the FBI hasn't questioned Malia at all. Rather, "agents want to grill Malia in a hush-hush deposition." Why would the FBI want to interview an intern when they have dozens of former and current Weinstein employees they could interview? They don't – it's just an easy story to invent, and the only surprise is that it took the Enquirer more than a month to come up with this. Attorneys have been floating the idea of a class action suit against Weinstein that could depose Malia, but that's just a fishing expedition, and certainly not the same as being grilled by the feds.
Prince Charles is a "Cold Fish Killer!" according to a "blood-chilling psychological profile prepared by British MI6 intelligence officers," reports the Globe. No, the Royal heir isn't murdering chilled cod and mackerel. MI6, the people who brought you James Bond, compiled this psychological profile portraying Charles as "a cruel and ruthless pathological liar who will do anything to get what he wants," reportedly for his coming trial for the 1997 murder of his wife Princess Diana. A couple of minor details worth noting: 1) There is no murder trial, and 2) Charles' "cold fish" diagnosis comes not from MI6, but from the tabloids' favorite psycho-babble enabler BioAccoustic, a company which claims to analyze personalities based on the sound of a person's voice. Well, you can't argue with science.
JonBenet Ramsey's "Real Killer" is exposed in the Globe by "America's toughest homicide cop," giving us two pages reiterating oft-reported mistakes made by the police who investigated the six year old's 1996 slaying, without ever identifying the perpetrator. The story ends: "NEXT WEEK: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!" I can't wait. Yawn.
There's yet more fact-diffident nonsense in the Globe story proclaiming that singer Tom Jones has been "crippled for life" because he reportedly underwent secret hip replacement surgery. The Globe seems to be unclear on the concept of hip surgery: It usually radically improves patients' mobility and eases hip pain, rather than crippling people for life.
Us magazine gives us equally dubious reporting in its cover story that Ben Affleck is "Lucky to be Alive" as he faces his "addiction battle." The headline above its four-page story screams: "How Jen Saved His Life." And yet a close reading of the story makes it clear that Affleck was never near death, and if estranged wife Jennifer Garner "saved his life" it was only by supporting his decision to enter rehab. Affleck is "lucky to be alive" in the way that we're all lucky to be alive – because it's better than being dead. How near death was he? Not even close. Affleck reportedly spent just five days in rehab before checking himself out, and continued treatment as an out-patient. The actor's drinking issues never had him on the verge of death. It's just an exploitative series of overly dramatic headlines.
People magazine gets in on the fact-deprived act with its cover story celebrating Queen Elizabeth's 70th wedding anniversary with Prince Philip: "Her Untold Love Story." Except it's a story that's been told and retold, in greater and better detail, over and over again, most recently in the TV series The Crown. Apparently the Queen, aged 91, and Philip, aged 96, are "keenly aware" that one of them will eventually die: "it won't take them by surprise." Well, no, it wouldn't would it?
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us magazine to tell us that Jennifer Lawrence wore it best, Megyn Kelly "always wanted to be a cowboy" (not a cowgirl?), that Dancing With The Stars hoofer Witney Carson carries green tea, Advil and hair scrunchies in her Gigi New York Parker satchel, and that the stars are just like us: they have pedicures, ride ATVs, and photograph their kids (which seems plain wrong, because it's putting hard-working honest paparazzi out of a job).
Leave it to the National Examiner, the magazine that tells us that living with plants cuts stress, that 112-year-old Lucy Treccase still has "a taste for beer," and brings us six full pages of horoscope predictions, to inform us that "You'll Know When You're Dead." The mag accurately reports on a legitimate scientific study by New York University's Langone School of Medicine, which found that human consciousness continues even after the body shows no sign of life. Despite what you'd think, this experiment was not run on tabloid reporters – they show signs of life, but no evidence of any consciousness.
Onwards and downwards . . .