It's strangely reassuring when the National Examiner tells us that Princess Diana's ghost was "caught at Harry's wedding," and that Nostradamus predicted that the "Hawaii volcanoes signal END OF WORLD!" It's comforting, because it's so easy to dismiss the obtuse ramblings of a 16th century seer and a white reflection of light on a wedding photo as errant nonsense unworthy of a second thought. It's harder to parse the rest of this week's fact-challenged dubious tabloid offerings, which purport to be truthful while being so very far from it.
"Meghan & Harry Having Twins!" screams the National Enquirer cover story, with a photo of the newly-anointed Duchess of Sussex with a "baby bump" helpfully circled with a giant yellow arrow pointing at her bulging belly. Is it churlish of me to point out that, after a little research, I find that this photo was taken in 2014? Before she met Prince Harry. If, after four years of pregnancy, she is still barely showing, that's an impressive testament to her dieting will-power and the fortitude of her uterus.
To be fair, the story inside the Enquirer employs a photo of Meghan taken days after her May 19 wedding where her "baby bump" reportedly makes an "early appearance." Did the 29 million Americans and 18 million Britons who watched the Royal wedding on TV all miss this self-evident pregnancy? Of course not. It's just the way a dress can hang sometimes when Meghan arcs her back. Yet inspired by the four-year-old "pregnancy" photo, the Enquirer team of psychic reporters concludes that Meghan is having the "first Royal twins in 588 years!" Which makes you wonder why Nostradamus didn't see this coming.
Equally dubious is the Globe cover story: "Robert Blake: Grant Jury Murder Confession!" You might be forgiven for thinking that the former star of TV's Baretta has been hauled before a Grand Jury and admitted his role in the shooting death of his wife Bonnie Bakley in 2001. And you'd be wrong.
Despite its lurid headline, the story actually reveals that it's only a private investigator claiming that a grand jury should be empaneled and Blake should be forced to confess that he was behind the slaying. Blake was acquitted of Bakley's murder but found responsible in a civil suit filed by her children, but has never admitted any responsibility for the crime. Yet the Globe tops its two-page spread with the headline: "Robert Blake Comes Clean!" No, he doesn't. How stupid do these tabloids think their readers are? (Don't answer that – it's rhetorical..)
The Royals continue to captivate the tabloids, and the Globe follows its succession of improbable scoops by "Palace insiders" with its latest "world exclusive" spread: "Humiliated Queen Bans Meghan's Kin!" It's nonsense on so many levels. Firstly, Meghan is hardly on speaking terms with most of her family members who have been making disparaging comments about the newly-inducted member of the Royal family. She was never going to invite her half-sister Samantha Grant to a Burger King joint, let alone a palace, having not spoken in decades. The same could be said for the cousins who have been mouthing off from a great distance while cashing in on the Markle name.
Secondly, while the Queen could conceivably be "banning them from the palace," that would be Buckingham Palace, and she could hardly stop Meghan inviting relatives, or whoever she wants, to the home she shares with Harry on the grounds of Kensington Palace or their country cottage on the Sandringham estate. And did the Queen really call Meghan's family "American trash"? The Globe cover is clear that she did. But inside, the report claims: "Maids have heard the queen muttering under her breath they're 'American trash.'" That's an impressive piece of reporting: the Globe not only has moles hidden within Buckingham Palace, but has them close enough to hear what the Queen mutters under her breath. Right. And would the Queen really ban Meghan from seeing her father, Thomas Markle? Expect to see father and daughter reunited before long.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's ongoing divorce still has the tabloids mesmerized, and this week the Enquirer tells us that Pitt has introduced his latest girlfriend to his children – "And Angie Hits the Roof!" Jolie "continues to lash out at him," reports the rag. But it's quite a different tale in the Globe, which claims that the duo are "Hot Again!" and are "Calling off divorce and rebuilding family," following a "sizzling reunion between the sheets," according to an unnamed source. Both stories seem about as likely as Nostradamus's prediction that the Kilauea volcano portends the end of the world.
And there are more cataclysms to come, the Examiner gleefully reports. Yellowstone Park's "Super-volcano" will experience "an apocalyptic super-eruption," an asteroid strike will cause "global mayhem," and a comet's arrival will coincide with "great violence." Good old Nostradamus, always the life and soul of the party.
People magazine devotes its cover to the new Duchess of Sussex, revealing "Meghan's New Life!" This amounts to wearing panty hose, undergoing protocol lessons, and "making baby plans," which one suspects she wouldn't need if she were already pregnant with twins.
Us magazine prepares to shame its readers in preparation for summer with a selection of mostly female celebrities displaying "My Best Body!" and sharing their "workout secrets!" though I'm at a loss to imagine why "workout secrets!" merits an exclamation mark. People mag shows its populist touch by showcasing five unknown non-celebrity women who each lost more than 100 pounds in weight, most going from obese to merely fat, and then squeezes each of them into a swimsuit for a photoshoot, which seems like cruel and unusual punishment after months of self-deprivation.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us to tell us that Bella Hadid wore it best (well, duh), that TV financial news anchor Maria Bartiromo "played the accordion growing up" (a skill she has sadly lost), that actress-singer Olivia Holt carries facial oils, ketchup and lip gloss in her Bvlgari purse, and that the stars are just like us: they buy groceries, picnic, and struggle with umbrellas on windy rainy days. Riveting, as ever.
The most useful information to come out of this week's tabloids hails from the Examiner story about America's oldest man, Richard Overton, who at 112 claims to smoke a dozen cigars and drink four glasses of whiskey daily. He shares his longevity secret with readers, and it's a tip worth taking to heart: "Just keep living," he says. "Don't die."
Onwards and downwards . . .