If you roll up a copy of this week’s Globe tabloid into the shape of a seashell and hold it to your ear, you can hear the sound of President Trump screaming. Just because they’re packed with fact-challenged celebrity gossip doesn’t mean that the tabloids can’t give us insight into American politics. President Trump has long used the National Enquirer and Globe as mouthpieces for his thoughts, and this week it appears that trend continues.
Just because Globe and National Enquirer chief David Pecker has been granted immunity by Robert Mueller’s investigation into former Trump attorney Michael Cohen in exchange for spilling the beans about covering up scandals it uncovered on the president, that apparently doesn’t mean the magazine has ceased in its slavish devotion to the man who believes that cold hamburgers are an appropriate breakfast (or lunch) of champions. Which is why it’s illuminating to see this week’s Globe effectively demonize conservative talk radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh for almost single-handedly helping to “shut down the government.”
Forget President Trump’s order to close down the government, the Democrats’ inability to find a compromise that doesn’t involve building a wall along the border with Mexico, and the Republicans’ refusal to stand up to Trump. As far as the Globe is concerned, it wants its readers to know that Limbaugh, dubbed on its front page the “Most Powerful Man in Politics” – is the one most responsible for the shutdown, thanks to his repeated radio attacks on immigrants.
“He demanded GOP legislators and the White House refuse to support any funding bill to keep federal agencies operating unless the legislation financed building the wall,” reports the Globe. Well, if that’s what Limbaugh was doing, we can hardly blame Trump for the shutdown then, can we?
If this sounds like the lunatic ravings of a man alone in the Oval Office at 3 a.m. ranting down an encrypted phone line to a friendly but sleep-deprived tabloid journalist, then what follows is hardly surprising. “Rush Limbaugh Unmasked!” screams the headline across two pages inside. The rag’s cover gives us a taste of the assault to come: “Rush Limbaugh: Secret Life He’s Hiding From America! Addiction. Criminal History. Dirty Divorces. Racism.” Oh my.
Let’s take a moment to remember that this is the same Rush Limbaugh who in October 2003 was accused of a painkiller addiction by his housekeeper in the Globe's sister tabloid the National Enquirer. The same tabloid that in 2004 claimed Limbaugh was seeking treatment in rehab for his addiction. The same Enquirer that previously reported on Limbaugh’s divorces, and on him being allegedly caught by US customs with another man’s Viagra prescription pills. Yes, it’s the same American Media Inc. group that in September 2017, detailing Limbaugh's “secrets and scandals,” branded him “the most dangerous man in America."
In other words, there is nothing new or unknown about the “secret life” the Globe is allegedly exposing; no new allegations or scandals, except one: Limbaugh is to blame for the government shutdown. And we know it must be true, because if the Globe says he’s the “most powerful man in politics,” then the shutdown must be his fault. We could hardly blame the President, after all, because he’s clearly not the "most powerful man in politics."
The ludicrousness continues with the Globe cover story about singer Dolly Parton’s “Frantic Life or Death Emergency: Dolly Rushed to Hospital!” Why was Dolly hospitalized? She wasn’t, of course. The story inside makes clear that Parton is fine, but allegedly rushed her husband Carl to the hospital after he collapsed. Which isn’t quite the same thing, is it?
Prince “Harry’s Henpecked!” proclaims the Globe, noting that “he was once a soldier,” but now he has quit smoking, booze and caffeine, and has taken up yoga – and it’s all the fault of Princess Pushy, his wife the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. She’s allegedly forcing Harry to live a healthy life in mind and body. How dare she!
You know the Globe is really scraping the bottom of the journalistic barrel when it devotes an entire page to a thief who tried to steal a bicycle from outside an Oregon police station. Okay, the thief’s an idiot – but a whole page for a bike theft? Not even a village weekly newspaper would consider giving such a crime more column inches than the vicar’s tea party.
Us magazine promises on its cover to tell readers “What Really Happened” inside Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’s “$160 billion divorce,” but of course they can’t add anything new, because they don’t know what really happened, merely repeating tidbits previously reported in last week’s National Enquirer.
Us also spends two pages celebrating Lady Gaga, pictured looking fit and fabulous in a bikini, and telling the mag: "I’m Proud of my Body.” Except she didn’t say that to Us, but in fact wrote it in a social media post in February 2017. So much for up-to-the-minute news.
People magazine’s cover is dominated by kidnapped teen Jayme Closs, promising details on “Her Amazing Escape.” You won’t be surprised to learn that the mag doesn’t have any details about how she escaped her captor, because they don’t have a clue. They only know where she was spotted after escaping, once she was on the run.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us mag to tell us that Miley Cyrus wore it best, that TLC star Jazz Jennings is “not afraid of bugs” but is “afraid of lizards,” that actress Lana Condor carries lipstick, headphones and a small plastic gnome in her Louise et Cie purse, and that the stars are just like us: they walk their dogs, eat hot dogs, and drink coffee. And just to prove they’re like us, they’re also pictured in this issue on beaches in Miami, Los Cabos, Hawaii, Jamaica and Barbados.
We have the National Examiner to thank for the headline, “Be Proud Your Kid’s A Liar!” Research supposedly shows that “fibbing shows mental sharpness.” And a child’s potential as a future tabloid reporter, one imagines.
Onwards and downwards . . .