Kidnapping solved, Tom Cruise's love plot, and inside Area 51 – in this week's fact-challenged tabloids

There's only one problem with the National Enquirer's photograph of the convicted pedophile who allegedly kidnapped British three-year-old Madeleine McCann, snapped in Bulgaria on June 15, 2018, according to the magazine's cover under the screaming headline: "SOLVED!"

It's a small, but niggling issue: the pedophile considered by Scotland Yard a "person of interest" in the toddler's disappearance in Portugal 11 years ago has been dead for more than a year. The blurry photo of a man in sunglasses, baseball cap and smoking a cigarette could be anyone, but the Enquirer gleefully adds the front page caption: "This man kidnapped little girl & sold her into slavery!"

This story is also woefully old – Scotland Yard announced they were seeking a "person of interest" more than 14 months ago, and when detectives later visited Bulgaria in November 2017, a source said of the convicted pedophile and his wife, who had been in the Algarve region at the time of the kidnapping: "There is no evidence they were involved, but it would be good to eliminate them from the investigation."

"She's still alive" adds another cover headline about the missing child, based on zero evidence. It's just one among a slew of outrageous fake news stories this week.

Tom Cruise's "sick $8 million plot to win back" ex-wife Katie Holmes is exposed by the Enquirer. What's his fiendish plan? His favored Church of Scientology is allegedly planning to build an $8 million facility in Detroit, Michigan, "less than an hour's drive" from her parents' home, "where she often visits." Let's ignore for a moment the fact that Holmes has a home in Los Angeles, just minutes drive from the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Center. Cruise is supposedly "masterminding" the Detroit construction plans, and then plans to lure Holmes and daughter Suri to the new church, where "they'd both be subjected to mental re-programming!" If that sounds more complex than any caper in Mission Impossible, that's because it is.

"The honeymoon's over!" screams the Enquirer headline above its "world exclusive" claiming that "Harry Storms Out On Meghan!" The newlywed Prince reportedly "ripped off his wedding band" and stormed out of Kensington Palace because Meghan Markle "refuses Royal duties." Yes, that's the Meghan you've seen for the past few weeks at Prince Charles' birthday celebration, touring Britain with the Queen, and attending Royal Ascot with Prince Harry. Has their marriage "hit the rocks" as the Enquirer reports? No – Harry was just going to the gym, and took his ring off for the workout.

The Royal newlyweds get hit with both barrels from the Globe, which exposes an alleged "Plot to Kill Harry & Meghan," claiming with their usual grammatical panache: "Traitor Infiltrates security team!" While it's true that Harry and Meghan, like any member of the British Royal Family or prominent public figure, might be considered a potential terrorist target, there is no evidence of a credible plot, and certainly no evidence of "a Muslim convert – who turned traitor to Britain…discovered embedded in their protection team."

The Globe also promises to take readers "Inside Area 51!" but shows only long-distance arial shots of hangers, accompanied by a former US Marine pilot who claims that the air base houses a flying saucer – "and he flew it!" Evidently the spaceship had no controls, because "the craft was controlled telepathically." Naturally, without the slightest training, former pilot Robert Miller flew the spaceship "simply by thinking about it." Right. Other "UFO experts" claim that Area 51 houses "alien corpses and their crafts." Well, they're experts, so they must know what they're talking about.

"The War Explodes!" screams the cover headline in Us magazine. But it's not the war in Afghanistan, or the war on drugs. It's the Pitt-Jolie "bitter custody battle" as "Brad & Angie's Kids Take Sides." The cover touts their children's "Secret phone calls to Dad." Yet the four-page story never mentions the six children making any secret calls to Pitt. Far from it, all the children's calls to Pitt were reportedly made while Jolie listened in the same room – so the calls weren't a secret to anyone. Nice headline, though.

"The truth about those Jen rumors," promises the Us cover. So what's the reality about Pitt supposedly reuniting with former wife Jennifer Aniston, who, according to some tabloids, is pregnant with their child? "All of those stories about Brad and Jen are completely fabricated," says her spokesperson. Okay – but not too fabricated to put on the magazine's front cover, evidently.

People magazine devotes its cover to "100 Reasons to Love America!" #1: country music couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, who reveal "How We Make Our Love Last." No, it's not tantric sex. Apparently, watching the duo perform "is like two hours of total foreplay," says music writer Holly Gleason. Whatever turns you on. Faith and Tim are certainly the #1 reason I love America, give or take a few thousand other reasons.

Why else love America? According to People, #2: Meghan Markle & her mom, Doria. #4: Costco. #16: Pumpkin Spice. #40. Succulents (seriously!) #66. Popeye Chicken. #89. Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen. Heaven help us.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us mag to tell us that Sienna Miller wore it best (and still looked a mess), that Alfre Woodard "spent one night with Yugoslavian bandits" in 1972, that author Emily Griffin carries a Buckingham Palace keychain, Tata Harper Aromatic Irritability Treatment, and a tape measure in her Delvaux saddle bag, and that the stars are just like us: they bicycle, drink vegetable juices, sample perfumes, ride Jet Skis, hail taxis and wait for valets. Thrilling, as always.

The National Examiner carries a helpful feature telling readers how to "Spot a liar immediately!" Face touching and fidgeting are "pretty good indicators," as are somebody oozing confidence, thinking fast, and having a voice that rises in pitch. But the magazine misses the most obvious way to spot a liar – when someone introduces themselves and says: "Hi, I'm a tabloid reporter…"

Onwards and downwards . . .