Aretha Franklin murdered, Kevin Spacey in slaying scandal, and Obama's secret lover, in this week's dubious tabloids

With the news that scandal-plagued American Media Inc. plans to sell its tabloid empire including the 'National Enquirer' and 'Globe,' the rags' hacks seem to have given up all pretense of trying to inject reality into their fact-challenged offerings this week. The 'Enquirer' pulls out all the stops in trying to scare off a prospective purchaser, with a clutch of dubious stories.

"Aretha Franklin Was Murdered!" screams its cover story. No, she wasn't. "Queen of Soul EXHUMED after nine months" the cover proclaims. No, she wasn't. Franklin is still interred, and no coroner or law enforcement agency has made moves to dig her up, "Millions missing!" No – Franklin made a police report last year that $200,000 had been purloined from her bank account, but her death ended the police investigation. And $200,000 isn't exactly "millions."

"Kinkster Kevin [Spacey] Caught Up in Murder Scandal!" No, he isn't. Linda Culkin, one of the first to accuse Spacey of molesting young boys, was struck and killed by a car while walking near her Boston-area home. "Investigators have launched a murder probe," says the 'Enquirer.' No, they haven't – the driver remained at the scene and no charges were filed. Culkin was crossing a road against traffic that had a green light. There is no "murder scandal," and Spacey is not "caught up" in it. The rag also fails to mention that Culkin was obsessed by Spacey, and was jailed in 2013 for making bomb and anthrax threats against the actor.

George Clooney has saved his marriage "from the brink" of divorce with a second honeymoon. If only marital relationships were that simple. But it's the only way the 'Enquirer' can explain why Clooney and wife Amal are still together after years of headlines such as "George & Amal $540 Million Divorce Shocker!", "Amal Splits to Island Hideway," and the ever-popular "Amal Takes Twins."

Meghan Markle gets the 'Enquirer' treatment as "Meghan's Psychic Tells All!" No, he doesn't. Psychic Richard Win, who admits he hasn't seen Markle in three years, speculates that she "is struggling to follow royal protocol, cope with backstabbers, and come to grips with the relentless global spotlight." It's not a psychic reading, it's a platitude. The 'Globe' gets in on the game with a couple of Royal stories about Duchesses Kate and Meghan.

"Kate Collapses! William cheating scandal pushes wife to the brink." The Duchess of Cambridge has reportedly moved in with her parents (despite all evidence to the contrary) and collapsed in their bathroom (where 'Globe' insiders monitor her every move, presumably hiding behind the shower curtain) and hasn't seen husband Prince William in weeks. Does that mean it was Kate's body double seen alongside William visiting Prince Harry and Meghan last week? Must be.

"Diva Meghan refusing to be hands-on mom," claims another 'Globe' story, suggesting that hiring a maternity nurse and nanny so that Meghan can get some sleep and return to Royal duties as soon as possible make her "more interested in being a socialite than a hands-on mom," according an unnamed "royal source." Because what new mother doesn't want to be utterly sleep-deprived, exhausted, dazed and confused for months while in the public spotlight? If Meghan had refused to hire a nanny and maternity nurse, she'd have been accused of turning up her nose at royal tradition. The poor girl can't win.

"293-lb. Lisa Marie [Presley] Stomach Surgery!" reports the 'Globe,' Yet this week its normally precision-perfect team of Guess Your Weight midway barkers have given themselves a little wiggle-room in guessing the weight of Elvis's offspring. A 43-pound margin of error, to be precise. An unnamed sourced claims that the King's daughter "appears to be tipping the scales at well over 250 pounds and could be as high as 293." Why not 294 pounds? Or 249 pounds? Enquiring minds want to know.

Breaking news is of course the lifeblood of any publication, which may be why the rags are up for sale with such stories as the 'Globe' story revealing: "Obama Proposed To This Woman Twice Before Marrying Michelle!" Sheila Jager, now an Oberlin college professor, was revealed as Obama's former lover in David Garrow's book 'Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama,' published in May 2017. The 'Globe' calls this story a "Special Report," meaning they've finally cracked open the two-year-old book. Alert the Pulitzer committee. Britney Spears' mental health issues dominate the cover of 'Us' magazine: "Saving Britney – Inside Her Brave Battle." Friends say she's happily on the road to recovery after her stint in a mental facility, in a feature that might as well have been written by her PR team. 'People' magazine says Brit Brit is "getting back to normal," which for her means being back on her meds under a legal conservatorship governed by her father.

'People' devotes its cover to 'Today Show' host Hoda Kotb and her newly-adopted baby, under the headline: "Meet My Dream Family!" No, thank you.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Julia Roberts wore it best (and still looked like she'd cut a hole in a Native American rug and thrown it over her shoulders), that actress Rhea Perlman admits: "I don't like wind" (though it's unclear if she means strong breezes or flatulence), that singer Sheryl Crow carries reading glasses, almonds and her sons' toys in her Flag Hobo for HSN purse, and that the stars are just like us: they jog, use sunscreen, have facials and mani-pedis (though I can't tell you the last time I had a facial or a mani-pedi.)

Most perplexing story of the week comes courtesy of the 'Enquirer,' which reports: "Teen Jumped Right In To Save Drowning Boy!" Despite the headline suggesting a heroic rescue, in fact 19-year-old Heather Pignato broke her ankle jumping 20 feet from a Daytona Beach pier into shallow Florida water, and had to be rescued herself, along with the child she had oped to save.

One imagines that any investor brave enough to dive in hoping to save the drowning tabloids might risk more than Pignato's injured back and broken foot if they try to keep these reality-lite rags above water.

Onwards and downwards . . .