There’s breaking news, fake news, a news flash, even news you can use, but they all supposedly share one attribute: their information is new.
This week's fact-challenged tabloids gleefully throw that concept out the window, however.
"Robert Blake Confession Shocker!" declares a headline in the 'National Enquirer,' under the page heading "NEWS," just in case you weren't sure, which would be perfectly understandable.
The 'In Cold Blood' actor, acquitted of killing his wife in 2005 but subsequently found guilty in a civil wrongful death suit, "in an exclusive National Enquirer interview . . . admitted he'd planned to gun down the father of his 16-year-old girlfriend in the early 1960s."
When did the 'Baretta' star make this alleged confession?
"Eight years before he was arrested for the shooting of wife Bonnie Lee Bakley."
That's 1997. Twenty two years ago.
To the 'Enquirer,' that's breaking news. About a murder that didn't happen. Almost 50 years ago.
We're treated to more breaking news with the 'Enquirer' cover story: "Truth Finally Revealed After 56 Years: LBJ Ordered Hoover To Kill JFK! Explosive Enquirer Investigation."
Sadly, it's hard to discern any sign of an investigation whatsoever.
"New evidence shows LBJ ordered killing of JFK!" reads the headline over the spread inside, but of course, while there is ample speculative opinion by self-appointed experts, there is no "evidence."
"The National Enquirer has learned the shocking truth emerged after tens of thousands of pages of classified documents were released in 2017," it reports – but does not quote a single sentence from any document which even hints at President Johnson ordering Kennedy's assassination.
And those 2,800 JFK assassination documents released by Trump in October 2017 were thoroughly scoured, dissected and analyzed by experts in the hours after their release – it didn't take anyone else two years to search through them.
Coming up with nothing from the document drop, the "Enquirer Investigation" lazily rehashes well-worn conspiracy theories dredged up in a slew of books including Bart McClellan's 2003 tome 'Blood, Money & Power: How LBJ Killed JFK,' 2013's 'LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination' by Phillip F Nelson, Roger Stone's 2013 book 'The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ,' and last year's 'JFK and the End of America,' not to mention Oliver Stone's movie 'JFK,' or Jackie Kennedy's interviews taped shortly after the assassination in which she voiced her belief that LBJ was behind the murder.
Even further behind with the news is the 'Enquirer' "Explosive Special Report" claiming: "Queen Cheated With This Man!" The man in question is the late Lord Porchester, a lifelong friend of Her Majesty, who went on to manage her stable of race horses.
The clue that tipped off the 'Enquirer' to this 60-year-old story?
"The hit Netflix series 'The Crown' hinted at it."
Yes, the TV series showed an episode in which Queen Elizabeth II confides in her friend Lord Porchester about the life she may have led if she had not become Queen – but there is nary a caressed hand or kissed cheek to hint at any romance between the duo.
But that's good enough for the 'Enquirer' to declare on its cover: "Queen's Secret Lover Exposed! He's Prince Andrew's REAL father!"
Given Prince Andrew's self-immolating debacle trying to extricate himself from the pedophile sex slave scandal of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, perhaps the Royal Family might be happy to disown Andrew as one of their own.
Yet in the past six decades there has been nothing to suggest that the Queen had any romantic relationship with Lord Porchester, who became her racing manager in 1969 when Prince Andrew was already nine years old, and remained friends until his death in 2001.
'People' magazine gets in on the breaking news wagon with its four-page exposé that fails to expose anything new: "6 Girls Murdered in D.C. – Who Is The Freeway Phantom Serial Killer?"
It's been nearly 50 years since the last victim's body was found, and the slayings have been filed away as a cold case, so why the sudden interest?
"People Magazine Investigates:The Freeway Phantom" airs on Investigation Discovery on November 25. Corporate synergy at its best, even if the story is half a century old.
What's new in this week's tabloids stands up to scrutiny about as well as a newborn foal.
"$200m Divorce Nightmare – Julia Roberts Dumped on 52nd Birthday!" No, she wasn't. The 'Enquirer' claims that husband Danny Moder "didn't do enough to mark her 52nd." Well, that's cause for divorce in any household. Right.
The story claims that Roberts complained about the lack of festivities to mark her turning the Big-Five-Two, and after exchanging heated words Moder "stormed away."
Says an unnamed "pal" of the actress, "She must have felt as though she was getting dumped!" Really? Why? Just to satisfy tabloid headline writers, one suspects.
R&B icon Tina Turner is the subject of a 'Globe' scare story: "Tormented Tina Teeters On Brink of Death!"
Is she on her deathbed, kept going by life support systems, unable to move or speak?
Turner turned up on November 7 at the Broadway opening of 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,' not teetering but striding unaided, trailed by fans rather than IVs and medical staff.
She's supposedly "facing her final curtain" because at the age of 79 she appeared to have a "moon face" which a tabloid-friendly doctor (who has never treated Turner) surmised could be a sign that she is "taking powerful immunosuppressant drugs to keep her body from rejecting" the kidney her husband donated to her in 2016.
Well, of course she's on immunosuppressant drugs, like most other organ recipients. It's not necessarily a sign that her body is rejecting the organ, but that doesn't stop the 'Globe' from concluding of Turner: "Kidneys failing after transplant and meds have ruined her face."
That's really putting the "opinion" in "medical opinion."
The simple word "may" covers a multitude of sins and possibilities, and the tabloids routinely use it as a Get Out Of Jail Free card when the facts don't always align with editorial imaginations.
Miley Cyrus "May Never Sing Again!" says an 'Enquirer' story on the pop star's recent vocal cord surgery. Marie Osmond's "Dancing Days May Be Over!" after the entertainer broke her knee during a recent performance, claims another 'Enquirer' story.
Maybe so, maybe not.
Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby. aged 82, currently serving up to ten years behind bars for sexual assault, "may not live to finish his sentence," states the 'Globe,' seemingly stating the obvious. Maybe he'll outlive his sentence just to spite the tabloids.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' magazine to tell us that Rihanna wore it best (Dua Lipa was robbed), that Xscape singer/Real Housewife of Atlanta Kandi Burruss's favorite toy is her "lipstick vibrator" (be careful where you put that), that Nicky Hilton carries ballet flats, sunglasses and a monogrammed notebook in her monogrammed Goyard bag, and that the stars are just like us: they shop at flea markets, roller-skate, and help charity fundraisers.
For this week's banal-but-true story we have to turn to the 'Enquirer,' which reports on a Hostess Twinkie bar which has turned "a well-preserved 43" years old under glass in the chemistry lab of a Maine high school. Finally, something that's not as old as some of this week's tabloid stories.
Onwards and downwards . . .