The tabloid worm has turned. After three years of deifying Donald Trump and lauding his every utterance, there is no clearer indication of the tabloids turning against Trump than the Globe magazine's cover tribute to "American hero" John McCain.
Trump famously said in 2015 that the Arizona senator was "not a war hero," and the Globe dutifully obliged with the headline: "Trump Is Right: McCain is NOT a War Hero." They followed up with the story of a dying McCain "sending tender goodbyes to his secret love" actress Connie Stevens.
But since Globe and National Enquirer chief David Pecker's recent agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the Trump investigation, the tabloids are no longer slavishly following the ranter-in-chief's party line.
"John McCain FAREWELL!" screams the Globe cover, touting "his inspiring final words" ("Always believe in the promise and greatness of America") and his "surprising last regret" ("He lost his bid to become president" – hardly a surprising regret, you'd think).
It's a clear slap in the face to the president, and possibly a harbinger of things to come from the tabloids that are believed to have a secret trove of damaging Trump stories locked away in their vaults.
Free from cult-like devotion to Trump's warped world vision, the tabloids are returning to their own warped version of reality.
And what could be more important than the loving reunion of former husband and wife Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, both finally free of their subsequent spouses? "Brad & Jen's Romantic Italian Dinner Date!" screams the Enquirer headline over an "Enquirer Exclusive" photo of the couple sharing a cozy dinner: Pitt in a black peaked cap, Aniston in large sunglasses. You have to search hard for the small print hidden in a corner: "Photo Re-Creation." Yes, it's a fake photo of a reunion that may never have happened. So good to have the tabloids back doing what they do best.
Equally edifying is the Enquirer two-page spread under the banner: "Death Yacht Skipper Solves Natalie Mystery!" The Enquirer returns yet again to its favorite celebrity death, with boat captain Dennis Davern having "broken his silence" to reveal why Robert Wagner allegedly killed wife Natalie Wood aboard the Splendor 37 years ago. Except that Davern has never been silent: he's spoken repeatedly to anyone who would listen, offering wild speculation that never rises to the level of evidence or proof.
How does Captain Davern "solve" the mystery of Wood's death? He says (as he has said many, many times before) that she was afraid of water and would "never, never, never" set off alone at night in the small dinghy from which she apparently fell and drowned. Therefore she must have been murdered. Inspector Clouseau couldn't have said it better. Murder mystery solved!
"George & Amal Clooney Named Royal Godparents!" declares the Globe headline above a story about Prince Harry and Meghan's choice for "their newly adopted baby girl." The Globe again runs a photo of Harry holding a baby boy taken in Barbados in 2010, with Markle Photoshopped into the image in place of a hospital nurse. It's a fantasy built on wild imaginings. Next week can we expect to read about the Royal couple's heartache as Angelina Jolie steps forward to adopt the baby that Harry and Meghan had set their heart on?
As actress Jennifer Garner takes estranged husband Ben Affleck to rehab (yet again), Us magazine's cover asks: "Why Jen Can't Let Go . . . Is it for LOVE or the CHILDREN!" The answer? "That unwavering loyalty is for the sake of their kids . . ." says an unnamed "insider." So why tease with the equivocal cover? Maybe Us readers enjoy being manipulated?
People mag devotes its cover to Michelle LeClair's "Escape From Scientology." You might reasonably ask: Michelle who . . ? She's the millionaire founder of a life insurance company, and while her tales of exploitation and abuse by the cult are horrifying, it's hard not to feel that we've heard this all before many times.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us mag to tell us that Victoria Justice wore it best, that Chrissy Metz is "double jointed in my fingers," that actress Serayah carries Beats headphones, Trophy Wife highlighter and fake lashes in her Yves Saint Lauren tote, and that the stars are just like us: they buy street food, hail taxis, and play ball. It's breaking news like this that keeps real journalism alive in these parlous times.
For real hard-hitting journalism, you can't beat the National Examiner story under the headline: "Senior Cat Holds Mailman Captive – Until He Gives Her a Hug!" Aging feline Bijou in McKinleyville, California, reportedly "commandeers the local mailman's delivery truck each time she sees him, and won't budge until he gives her some serious cuddling!" Woodward and Bernstein, eat your heart out.
Onwards and downwards . . .