Coming back from the dead is a tabloid staple – just ask Elvis, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana, all still alive and well, hiding in plain sight, according to the rags. But this week sees the most exciting return from beyond the grave: tabloid title The Sun reappears on American newsstands with such sensational tales as UFOs invading the Arctic, a baby born with its grandfather’s forearm tattoo, and a brown bear that can read books “at third-grade level.”
Part of American Media Inc’s tabloid stable along with the National Enquirer and the Globe, The Sun, last published in 2012, shuttered as the public’s appetite for outrageously improbable “news" faded. Perhaps we can credit President Donald Trump’s passion for fake news with the revival of The Sun, which breathlessly tells us that John the Baptist’s sandals have been found, curing blindness – and baldness!
And of course, there’s the inevitable story that’s crazy-but-true: “Worms from Hell!” have been discovered two miles beneath the earth’s surface. Okay, so they were discovered by scientists in 2011 living in cracks between the earth’s crust (the worms living in the cracks, not the scientists), but for tabloids that often recount decades-old yarns, this counts as fresh news.
The Sun, which beneath its title carries the words “God Bless America,” devotes its cover to the exclusive: “U.S. Scientists Transplant Monkey Head – And It Can Be Done on Humans Now.” Yes, it’s another ancient story: American neurosurgeon Robert J. White transplanted heads on four monkeys back in 1970. Chinese researchers repeated the surgery more recently, and maverick Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero has plans to transplant a human head. But it won’t be happening any time soon in America, where bioethical concerns now ban such experimentation.
Yet that story comes dangerously close to accuracy for The Sun, which currently has been revived as an insert in the National Examiner magazine, but hopefully will be propelled by public demand into a rejuvenated fully-independent magazine once again, so that we can look forward to tales of aliens visiting the White House and the Loch Ness Monster being caught by fishermen.
The venerable tabloids don’t disappoint this week, with a plethora of dubious fact-challenged stories, many of them old but dusted off and presented as new yet again. Lee Harvey Oswald’s widow “demands new JFK murder probe . . . Insists he was framed by CIA & Mob,” reports the Enquirer, quoting a JFK conspiracy expert who wrote exactly this in his 2008 book, so the story is only a decade old – positively fresh by Enquirer standards.
“I’m Marilyn Monroe’s Secret Daughter!” 72-year-old Florida woman Nancy Maniscalco Miracle tells the Enquirer. Miracle, who claims she was given up for adoption by Monroe and her lover Vincent Bruno, realized her true origins in 1985, and her claim has been publicly known at least since The New Yorker reported on her in November 1997 (resulting in a well-documented defamation lawsuit). So this story, which remains unverifiable and unsubstantiated, is a hefty 21 years old. Happy birthday!
"Prince Andrew rocked by new teen sex slave scandal!” tells the Enquirer. Actually, it’s the same old sex scandal exposed in 2015. What’s new? Former alleged sex slave Virginia Roberts is now allegedly writing “a sizzling tell-all.” But wait . . . Roberts claimed to be writing a tell-all back in February 2015. So what’s new here? Roberts now lives with her husband in Cairns, Australia, where a local bartender provides the one fresh quote of the piece: “They’re both really lovely, especially her.” Great reporting.
The Enquirer devotes a page and a half to Barbra Streisand’s “$400m Divorce” from James Brolin, which seems to be a regular filler when they are desperate for old stories to recycle. It’s an allegation they run repeatedly, though when they first floated this in November 2013, it was under the headline: “Barbra Streisand $390m Divorce Bombshell!” Glad to see that she’s earned an additional $10 million in the intervening five years.
The Globe gleefully reports that Michael Jackson buried a treasure trove of kiddie porn beneath the Peter Pan tree in his former home at California's Neverland Ranch. The gloved one supposedly “blabbed” to friends about incriminating material buried at Neverland. Despite identifying no source for this story, the Globe speculates that this must refer to “photos and video he may have made of him abusing kids,” and imagines that the entertainer kept a “hidden vault” somewhere on his sprawling estate. And where better to hide this cache than “beneath his favorite tree, which he loved to climb while acting out fantasies that he was Peter Pan.” If anyone bothers to dig up the earth beneath the tree, the Enquirer can at least claim to have reporting that is literally ground-breaking.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us magazine to tell us that Kendall Jenner wore it best (doesn’t she always?), that Atlanta actor Brian Tyree Henry admits: “I hate the idea of ironing” (presumably he hates ironing, as well as the idea of it), that actress Emma Kenney carries gift cards “that I pass out to homeless people” along with a Kabbalah red string and reading glasses in her Clove + Revel backpack, and that the stars are just like us: they carry groceries, get caught in the rain, and pump their own gas. Wonders never cease.
Onwards and downwards . . .