This week’s tabloids offer a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of their greatest fan: Donald Trump. The president, who has gone on the record saying that the National Enquirer deserves a Pulitzer Prize, and who is bffs with tabloid publisher David Pecker, can politely be said to view events in a different way than the rest of the world perceives them. So it’s instructive to see this week’s tabloids offer a view of events that offer a unique perspective that some might say, in the manner of Donald Trump, bears little relation to reality as the rest of us understand it.
“Tom Gets Suri!” screams the cover of the National Enquirer, suggesting that Tom Cruise has won a battle with ex-wife Katie Holmes for custody of their daughter. But nothing has changed in their custody agreement. Cruise was long ago awarded ten days a month with his daughter. He simply hasn’t taken advantage of using all ten days monthly in the past. Now he’s seeking to have his daughter for the agreed ten days monthly, it’s no shock to anyone (except perhaps to Suri), and Cruise no more “Gets Suri” than before.
Hollywood legend Robert Wagner “Loots Natalie’s Grave!” claims another Enquirer cover headline about the actor’s late wife Natalie Wood. “Wagner Vandalizes Natalie’s Grave” yells the headline above the story. The story is true, if by “Vandalizes Natalie’s Grave” you mean Wagner has asked the cemetery to remove decomposing flowers left by fans after a day on her grave.
TV’s former Friends star Matthew Perry has only “six months to live,” claims the Enquirer, after his “intestines explode!" No, they didn’t. He suffered a “gastrointestinal perforation.” Painful, yes, and requiring surgery. But it’s not as if his gall bladder detonated, sending intestinal shrapnel throughout his abdomen.
Brad Pitt’s divorce from Angelina Jolie has left the actress with a "$50 million legal bill” that “could leave Angie broke!” reads another imaginative Enquirer headline. Yes, Beverly Hills attorneys are expensive, but Jolie would need to employ a team of high-powered lawyers for a decade to run up that sort of a bill. To put it in perspective, the state of New Jersey amassed a $50 million legal bill in its 12-year lawsuit against ExxonMobil in an anti-pollution lawsuit that concluded in 2015. What’s more, even a $50 million legal bill would not “leave Angie broke,” as her net worth is estimated at more than three times that sum. It’s just Trumpian thinking.
It gets worse in this week’s Globe, whose cover story about Royal newlyweds proclaims: “Meghan & Harry Adopt African Baby!” The “world exclusive” is capped by a photo of Prince Harry holding his new baby daughter, who the happy couple found in Botswana on their “secret honeymoon."
Would it be churlish to point out that this photo was taken when Harry visited the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados, on January 30, 2010 – six years before meeting Meghan? The hospital nurse who stood beside Harry has been replaced in the Globe by a smiling Photoshopped Meghan. Should I point out that their “baby girl from Africa” is actually a seven-week-old boy named Jordan in the photograph? Why let the facts ruin a good story?
Us magazine, which likes to think of itself as in a class above the supermarket tabloids, devotes its cover to Brad Pitt’s story: “Angie Is Putting Me Through HELL.” But nowhere in the story is there a single quote from Pitt about going through hell, or saying anything about how he is suffering in the divorce. Us throws in two quotes lifted from GQ magazine in May 2017, in which Pitt said he could outdrink a Russian, and had been reflecting on his “weakness and failures.” Not even an unnamed “friend” or “insider” or “source” says “Angie is putting Brad through hell.” It’s just more Trumpian thinking.
“Jen & Ben Divorce Called Off” claims an Us headline about the Garner-Affleck marriage. Are they getting back together three years after filing for divorce? Of course not. It’s just a judge reminding them that if they can’t agree to terms in the split, the court can decide to chuck out the divorce and make them refile. Not quite the same thing.
People magazine meanwhile devotes a mind-numbing 16 pages to its "Back to School" edition, featuring celebrity lunch box tips, the best backpack for your kids, advice from “mommy bloggers” on organizing your child’s room, kid fashions and foods, and celebrities you’ve never heard of with their children you care about even less.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us magazine to tell us that Gwyneth Paltrow wore it best, that actress Jana Kramer loves “chips and dip,” that WWE wrestler Ronda Rousey carries Midol, Listerine, and Cortizone cream in her Henri Bendel leather backpack, and that the stars are just like us: they pick up dry cleaning, walk their dogs, feed parking meters, and eat food. Enlightening, as ever.
The biggest mystery in this week’s tabloids comes in the shape of an advertisement for a limited-edition figurine of Maya Angelou, which “stands an impressive 11-inches tall!” The ad appears in both the Globe and the National Examiner, hidden amid ads for a musical Elvis Presley Christmas Tree statuette, a Toy Story cuckoo clock, and ads for Botox substitutes, erectile dysfunction pills and powered wheelchairs.
Do these magazines, which have previously offered life-like figurines of President Trump and Elvis, hope to reach an entirely new demographic with the sale of Maya Angelou statuettes for only three installments of $33.33 (plus shipping and handling)? Are today’s tabloid readers secretly our unsung champions of freedom? Or perhaps Donald Trump might say there is poetry in every page of the tabloids?
Onwards and downwards . . .