The tabloids' loose relationship with facts grows even more tenuous this week, and sometimes even their fake news is phony.
Prince Harry's marriage to Meghan Markle "Won't Last 5 Years!" claims "Prince's Own Aunt" on the cover of the Globe. Except that the "prince's aunt," Ann Ukrainetz, is actually a 74-year-old from Escondido, California, who 18 years ago claimed to have found a note from her mother scribbled in the margin of a dusty theatre playbill claiming that Princess Diana's grandfather, Lord Fermoy, was her real father. It's hardly DNA evidence, and almost two decades later it's still just an unsubstantiated claim, but the Globe is happy for Ukrainetz to pontificate.
Yet she actually never says that the Royal marriage "won't last 5 years." "Harry & Meghan's Marriage is D.O.A.!" screams the headline across two pages, but the worst that Ukrainetz can conjure up is that Markle may face Royal "backstabbing" and "issues of race and prejudice."
Even more dubious is the National Enquirer "world exclusive," claiming that "Prince Charles drops wedding bombshell – I'm Not Your Real Father, Harry!" It's a rehash of old discredited allegations that Harry is the love child of his Royal mentor Mark Dyer, but the idea that on the eve of Harry's wedding Charles told him: "I am not your father!" is as risible as the idea that the Enquirer has a "Buckingham Palace insider" who could have a) eavesdropped on such a private conversation and b) would tell the Enquirer while the massed army of the Fleet Street Royal press corps remain unaware. It simply never happened.
"Exhume JonBenet's Body NOW!" says murdered infant beauty pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey's father John on the cover of the Enquirer. Except John Ramsey said nothing of the sort. Colorado's Boulder County has formed a special task force to investigate cold cases, including JonBenet's murder 21 years ago, but the grieving father absolutely did not call for her immediate disinterment. "It would still be difficult for me," he said of a possible exhumation, "but if it was a compelling argument, I would consider it." He'd "consider it" – which to the Enquirer translates into "Exhume JonBenet Now!" No wonder they call it a "world exclusive" – who else would write such trash?
The Globe team of psychic reporters trained for years in carnival midway guess-your-weight booths strike again, declaring that Michelle Obama has gained precisely 57 pounds and now weighs in at 263 pounds, and that singer Joni Mitchell "has packed on 60 pounds" and "crushes the scale at a deadly 180 pounds." Michelle is reportedly "Eating Herself to Death!" due to "stress over the wild antics of her two girls," while Mitchell is "bloated and crippled after brain damage." Because any well-trained journalist can make a medical diagnosis based on a paparazzi photo.
The National Examiner cover promises us "The Judy Garland Nobody Knew!" which turns out to be tidbits about the Judy Garland that two people knew very well: her daughters Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft. "She was funny and warm," says Luft. "She ensured my happiness as a kid," says Minnelli. It's revelatory insights like this that make the Examiner a must-read, along with its ads for a motorized wheelchair, a pain-relieving cushion, an erectile dysfunction pill, and live phone psychics.
Us magazine boasts its own Royal wedding story about Meghan Markle: "I'll Be More Than a Wife!" Implicit in this is the antediluvian concept that most women who wed become just a wife. Surely all women who marry are "more than a wife?" Us reports that Markle "is an accomplished actress and philanthropist" who is "plugged into global affairs" and "has come in with her vision and the changes that she can make in the world." That's ignoring the fact that for decades pretty much the major role of British royalty has been in support of charitable and civic works: delivering speeches, ribbon-cutting, hand-shaking and handing armfuls of bouquets from grateful citizens over to ladies-in-waiting. That's the job Markle's signing up for, whether she wants it or not.
Fortunately we have Us magazine's crack investigative team to tell us that Kerry Washington wore it best (doesn't she always?), that Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander's boxer dog Harley "loves to cuddle," that Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps carries lipstick, a clear crystal "for good energy" and matches to ignite flatulence "when you're a guest at somebody's house" in her Michael Kors crossbody purse, and that the stars are just like us: they take taxis, pump gas and drink coffee – just like they do every damn week in this enervating pictorial feature.
The Examiner offers a public service with its story titled: "How to tell a con artist is calling." Watch out for "strangers touting odd deals," "salespeople who prey on your fears," and "never judge a person's integrity by how they sound." They forget to mention the biggest clue that a con artist is calling: When you answer the phone, they say: "Hello – I'm a tabloid reporter . . . "
Onwards and downwards . . .