Is a seismic shift underway at the Trump-loving supermarket tabloids?
For the past two years American Media Inc's National Enquirer and Globe magazines have slavishly served as Trump's attack dogs, unwavering defenders and unofficial mouthpieces for the White House. Trump, good friends with AMI publisher David Pecker, has suggested that the Enquirer deserves a Pulitzer Prize, and AMI returned the love by buying off the president's alleged mistress and a source claiming a Trump extra-marital pregnancy, and killing their stories in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Which makes this week's Globe all the more remarkable, as it devotes its cover story to Trump's alleged mistresses in a story that does not even attempt to challenge their claims, let alone denounce the women as liars and con-jobs, as Trump has previously done.
Trump's special relationship with AMI suggests that this story has his blessing, and it's positioned as a slap in the face – and perhaps, as a warning – to his long-suffering First Lady.
"Humiliated Melania!" screams the cover, above the teaser: "Shocking reason she'll NEVER divorce Trump!"
The answer is so far from shocking, it's banal: "Trump's third wife will swallow her pride and endure public humiliation for the sake of their 12-year-old son, Barron." What's surprising, however, is the rag's blithe acceptance of Trump's long-contested affairs. "Melania wasn't blindsided by the billionaire politician's womanizing ways," claims the Globe, which adds that Trump's reported affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and a Playboy pinup did "not surprise" Melania. "This is not anything she didn't know beforehand."
And the Globe goes further, citing 19 women who accused Trump of "unwanted sexual advances" and "at least five women" who claim to have been lovers or sex assault victims of Trump since his marriage to Melania. The rag also quotes Ronald Kessler, author of a book critical of Trump, reportedly claiming that "Melania knew Trump was a two-timer from their very first meeting."
Yes, it's what every other news outlet worth its name has been saying for more than a year, but the Globe and Enquirer have never suggested for a moment that the allegations could be true, serving as a virtual White House Press Office for those whose journalistic tastes run the gamut from A to B.
This is akin to Trump telling Melania: "You knew what you were getting into, I'm too sexy for my shirt, so shut up and don't complain!" Sadly, this sudden intrusion of reality in the tabloids is a momentary aberration, as they revert to their trademark flights of imagination in other coverage.
O.J. Simpson's son Jason watched his father murder Nicole Brown, claims the Enquirer, quoting O.J.'s friend Thomas Scott, who conveniently died last month and can't contradict the allegation.
"Angelina's Fury as Brad Builds Hot New Romance!" is another Enquirer fever dream, which claims that Pitt's ex-wife Jolie is fuming that he is dating an MIT professor. But the story fails to live up to its promise, and the closest they can come to Jolie's outrage is an unnamed insider claiming: "Brad's team is extremely concerned how Angie will react now that he's openly seeing another woman…" So it's not even Pitt who's worried, and "Angie's Fury" is non-existent.
The Enquirer also claims a "JFK Conspiracy Bombshell" involving Lee Harvey Oswald, presenting "evidence to substantiate the irrefutable connection between Oswald and a murder conspiracy rooted in rogue elements of the CIA!"
This word "irrefutable," it does not mean what you think it means. The rag revives information released from FBI files in 1975, which purported to show that Oswald tried to make a jailhouse phone call to a number in Raleigh, N.C., later identified as John Hurt, a former U.S. Army counterintelligence agent. But Hurt was questioned by the FBI at the time, and denied any contact or connection with Oswald, whose call was never put through by the operator. Yet the Globe now claims that because Oswald tried to phone a former military intelligence officer, he must have been linked to the CIA. Presumably, had Oswald tried phoning the White House, that would be "irrefutable" evidence that it was a government conspiracy. Or if Oswald had tried calling Universal Studios, it would be irrefutable proof that Doris Day and Rock Hudson were the other shooters on the grassy knoll.
The Globe claims that country singer Kenny Rogers is "battling killer bladder cancer" because he has cancelled a tour for health reasons, that lifestyle maven Martha Stewart has gained 34 pounds (not 33 pounds, not 35 – precisely 34 pounds) and is "eating herself to death," and that Prince Charles is a "terrible tyrant" and a "petulant, self-pitying jerk" according to unnamed "palace insiders." All without any more evidence that hearsay, wishful thinking, and the power of an impressively accurate team of amusement park midway "Guess Your Weight" barkers.
Royalty, British and American, also preoccupy the celebrity mags this week. Us promises on its cover to spill "All The Top Secret 'I Do' Details" of Prince Harry's coming wedding to Meghan Markle, only to disappoint with such tedious details as the bride preparing more than one wedding gown, and both bride and groom planning to exchange his 'n' her rings. Us also gives copious column inches to American pop culture princess Khloe Kardashian, with People magazine devoting four pages to "her shocking betrayal" by NBA star-boyfriend Tristan Thompson. "Will she stay with Tristan?" asks its cover. The answer won't surprise you: People magazine doesn't have a clue.
People celebrates its annual "Beautiful Issue 2018" with singer Pink as its cover girl revealing: "How I'm Raising Strong Kids." Apparently she makes them work out in the gym two hours daily and trains them for triathlons on weekends. No – I'm kidding. There's little in the interview to suggest that she's actually raising strong kids, physically or mentally. "There's not really a style or a philosophy," she says of her parenting. "I tell my daughter the truth. I let her be 6, but I want her to know about fairness and kindness and that you have to fight for your rights."
People naturally goes overboard on its "Beautiful Issue," bringing us beautiful celebrities, beautiful people with makeup, beautiful people without makeup, beautiful moms, beautiful Real Housewives, beautiful stars' dogs, beautiful stars' friends, childhood photos of beautiful stars, even 50 ways to live beautifully, all designed to make you feel as ugly and inadequate as possible in your coffee-stained sweatpants and smudged mascara you forgot to take off last night.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us magazine to tell us that Karlie Kloss wore it best, that TV host Willie Geist hates it "when the restaurant table is wobbly," that ballerina Misty Copeland carries pointe shoes, an eyelash curler and Advil in her Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag, and that the stars are just like us: they sunbathe, sip water, and eat McDonalds (actually, that's something you'll never see me do. Ever. Because I'm not a star).
Kudos to the National Enquirer for stretching credulity by reporting that "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin's daughter Bindi is dating "the mirror image of her late father" simply because her boyfriend was seen wearing khaki shorts and shirt, and also reporting that Drew Barrymore's "look-alike niece" (who looks nothing like her) is a stripper. Best of all, the Enquirer calls Barrymore's niece a "heavily tattooed tootsie." Which strikes me as irrefutable evidence that the Enquirer has access to a time machine and is recruiting its reporting staff from the 1950s.
Onwards and downwards . . . .