There are lies, damn lies, and tabloid exclusives.
“FOUND!” screams the cover of this week’s National Enquirer, claiming a “bombshell” scoop about Prince Harry’s bride-to-be, American actress Meghan Markle.
“Man-Eater Meghan’s Secret First Hubby!” the front page raves. “The hush-hush annulment! How she hid past from husband No.2! Poor Harry will be Husband No.3!”
There’s nothing unequivocal about these headlines, nothing suggesting the least bit of doubt, especially with the heavily pixilated photo of the newly discovered ex-husband, with the promise: “His story inside!” You have to plough through almost two pages of hyper-ventilating excitement before you reach the tell-tale sentence near the article’s end: “ . . . if the explosive claim of Meghan’s hidden husband is proved to be true . . .” Wait, what?
The Enquirer claims to have found Markle’s previously unknown first husband, and then admits the story might not be true? So what does Markle’s supposed ex-husband say? “When approached for comment at his home on the East Coast, he became agitated at the prospect of being exposed.” Just the reaction you’d expect from someone who has never met Markle and wonders why he’s been ambushed by a tabloid reporter.
“He later denied the relationship.” Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
The Enquirer has never shied away from identifying subjects in tabloid scandals, and would not hesitate to publish a photograph of the alleged ex-husband – if he existed. Everything in this story points to the Enquirer taking a random internet rumor and running with it, and using a barely-plausible subject's denial as evidence of the ex-husband’s existence.
A Kensington Palace spokesman allegedly told the Enquirer that the story was a “fabrication,” which seems an understatement. If there’s any truth to this story, the Enquirer hasn’t found it. But that’s standard operating procedure for the tabloids, as seen in this week's Enquirer “exclusive” about Austin Powers actor Verne Troyer: “Mini-Me Was Murdered!" He was allegedly “Force-Fed killer dose of booze.” Where does this revelation come from? A rent-a-quote former cop says: “This should be looked at very carefully,” if only because drug or alcohol abuse has been used in the past to cover up murders. That sounds like incontrovertible evidence to me.
The Enquirer does it again with its story: “Bobby Kennedy Was Not A Kennedy!” claiming that RFK was the product of his mother’s extra-marital affair. The evidence? A private investigator examined photographs of Robert Kennedy and his father at the same age, and concluded: “I cannot say with any certainty Bobby Kennedy is, in fact, a Kennedy!” Wow. And that’s what passes as proof that RFK was illegitimate. Why don’t they teach this stuff at journalism school?
What about actor Val Kilmer, given three months to live by the Enquirer . . . three years ago. He’s still alive today, so how does the rag explain it? “Val Kilmer cancer miracle!” is the headline. Right.
The Globe gets in on the act with its cover story touting its “Special Investigation” above the headline: “The Fight to Save President Trump!” which reports on the “Deep State conspiracy to destroy The Donald.” What does this “special investigation” entail? Apparently little more than cracking open the book Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump, by controversial author Jerome R Corsi. Lifted wholesale from the book, it’s a paranoid imagining of the unelected “shadow government” including Robert Mueller, James Comey, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, that will “stop at nothing to end his presidency.” And if the “Deep State” fails to remove Trump from the Oval Office by legal means, “there is a CIA plan to assassinate Trump,” claims the report. Makes perfect sense. If it’s in the Globe, it must be true.
The one tabloid story that rings true this week is the Globe quoting the president’s first ex-wife, Ivana Trump, suggesting that the president not seek a second term. “Donald is going to be 74 for the next election and maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune,” says Ivana, who was once a paid-up columnist for the Globe.
Us magazine devotes its cover to country music star Miranda Lambert telling “Her Side of the Story” amid accusations that she broke up her boyfriend’s marriage and is a serial home-wrecker. Only one tiny problem with this: Lambert doesn’t talk to Us mag. Not a word. An unnamed “friend” claims: “Miranda didn’t steal [new lover] Evan [Felker] from his wife.” Well that’s convincing.
People gives its cover over to The Fixer Upper stars Chad and Joanna Gaines revealing: “We can’t wait for Baby No.5.” Let me be honest: I didn’t care about your first baby, let alone babies two-through-four, so I certainly don’t care that you’re going through this routine for a fifth time. Good luck to the happy couple, but seriously People magazine – is this the best you’ve got this week? Evidently.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative squad at Us mag to tell us that Kerry Washington wore it best, that flexible Priyanka Chopra “can twist myself into a pretzel,” that actress Hannah Simone carries earrings, headbands and “a bunch of tiny stuffed mice” for her cat to toy with in her Madewell tote, and that the stars are just like us: they get a haircut, grab a pizza, and go bowling.
Following last week’s pictorial montage of celebrities picking up after their defecating dogs, this week Us gives us a two-page spread of stars – including Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lawrence, Pink, Halsey, Rita Ora, Future and Jaden Smith – flipping the bird to paparazzi. It’s the most honest, appropriate response to hounding photographers, and if Us was honest they could fill an eight-page pull-out with identical photos every week, proving that sometimes the stars really are like us.
Onwards and downwards . . .