Their rapidly dwindling audience read the rags for celebrity scandal that make them feel briefly better about their own depressing existence, finding some small comfort in the suffering of the rich and famous.
But amid a pandemic, unprecedented unemployment, protests and riots across America, it's hard to find any consolation in the supermarket magazines, which are clearly struggling to find any celebrity news at all.
This week's tabloid tales, mined from the basest of minerals with only trace amounts of fact, offer a dystopian world view only a Trump could love.
The British Royal Family, as ever, provides a soap opera cast enacting a tabloid script you won't find anywhere else.
"Meghan's $10m Feud Over Diana's Jewels!" screams the 'National Enquirer' cover story, proclaiming a "Bling Battle Royal."
"Meghan Ran Off With $10m in Diana's Jewels!" yells the headline within, inspiring visions of a smash-and-grab raid by Meghan on the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The Duchess of Sussex has evidently been wearing some of the late Princess Diana's jewelry collection, but as she and Prince Harry face substantial bills settling into their new Los Angeles home, the 'Enquirer' reports "Fears she'll sell gems for quick cash!" and that Meghan "Refuses William's order to return family legacy!"
But Meghan can hardly have run off with jewelry that was legitimately given to her.
Meghan's engagement ring, for example, made from two of Diana's diamonds, is hers to keep, like any bride's engagement ring. And Princes William and Harry divided up their mothers jewels years ago, so whatever Harry has from his mother's collection – including Diana's butterfly earrings, gold bracelets, and other baubles that Meghan has worn – is his to give to his wife if he chooses.
Stretching credulity to the limit, the 'Enquirer' claims that Meghan is demanding the return of Diana's engagement ring, which Harry took in the original division of gems, but generously gave to brother William when he became engaged to Kate Middleton.
As unlikely as it seems that Meghan would demand that Kate give up her engagement ring, the 'Enquirer' quotes a "senior palace source" using surprisingly tabloid terminology, claiming that Prince Harry "wants the sparklers back." Sure he does, cor blimey, it's a fair cop gov.
The 'Globe' attacks low-hanging Royal fruit with its cover headline: "Prince Andrew Caught Fleeing Britain!"
Allegedly "Andrew was caught abandoning Britain for oil-rich Qatar in a desperate plot to escape prosecution for his role in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal." Scotland Yard supposedly intercepted Andrew boarding a private jet, preventing him from flying.
But this story makes no sense.
Andrew has not been charged with anything – despite repeated 'Globe' stories that he has been secretly indicted in the US by a grand jury on unspecified charges – so he is free to travel wherever he wants. Scotland yard hasn't stopped him flying anywhere.
Attorney David Boies, who represents more than a dozen women who filed a civil lawsuit against pedophile millionaire Jeffrey Epstein's estate, reportedly says of Andrew: "We've made at least three formal written attempts sent to his address in London and also to his lawyers in the past few months."
Writing three letters isn't exactly sending Scotland Yard to stop Andrew leaving the country.
And lest we forget, the tabloids only recently reported that Andrew was locked up in the Tower of London under suicide watch, broke and facing eviction – which if true, would make hiring a private jet a tall order.
'Us' magazine chimes in with its Royal cover story: "Meghan & Harry: Living in Fear," under the banner "Royal Exclusive," even though the same story has been widely reported elsewhere.
The Sussexes (the collective noun by which H&M are known) have been plagued by paparazzi drones hovering over the hilltop mansion in Beverly Hills they have been borrowing or renting from movie mogul Tyler Perry. An unidentified insider claims: "They aren't ruling out a potential terrorist threat or kidnapping plot," so the young Royals' fear is supposedly for their safety, rather than the fact that they can't sunbathe naked by the pool.
But a drone isn't about to descend, grab baby Archie in its AI pincers and fly off with the tot. The double-gated estate, isolated at the end of a long driveway, is reportedly protected by at least two security teams – Perry's and H&M's – and as riots and looting rocked Rodeo Drive this past week, the Royal retreat could hardly be called vulnerable to attack.
Julia Roberts is quitting Hollywood "to be Next Erin Brockovich!" claims the 'Enquirer.'
The 'Pretty Woman' star is allegedly giving up movies to become a social activist – as if it's impossible to do both at the same time.
This wafer-thin story is premised on the fact that Roberts recently purchased a home in San Francisco, as if that precludes ever working on a film ever again.
And let's try not to think about the 15 films and TV projects Roberts has in development, set to star in or produce, according to imdb.com.
Angelina Jolie is a perpetual tabloid target, repeatedly accused of being too thin, too bossy, too erratic, and keeping her six children away from ex-husband Brad Pitt. But the moment she lets Brad have the children, she is vilified in the 'Globe,' which claims she is "Dumping kids on Brad to chase 'me' time overseas." In the warped world of the tabloids some folks can never do anything right.
In the same vein, the 'Enquirer' loves nothing more than accusing Robert Wagner of killing his late wife, actress Natalie Wood, and this week reports: "New Natalie Film Rips Family Apart!"
Yet the coming HBO documentary on Natalie Wood's death, produced by her daughter Natasha, does the exact opposite of tearing the family apart: It absolves Robert Wagner of any involvement in Natalie's death. Antithetical as that is to 'Enquirer' gospel, the rag pulls out Natalie's sister Lana Wood, who for years has voiced her belief that Wagner is responsible for Natalie's drowning in 1981. That's not a new film ripping the family apart – it's the 'Enquirer' trying to do so.
Only 'People' magazine even mentions the turmoil roiling America amid protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, under the cover story headline: "Outrage & Anguish: American tragedy." How the others ignored this story is incomprehensible, though I imagine next week we can expect 'Us' magazine to tell us 'Who Wore It Best' in reviewing celebrity fashion choices at the protest marches, and the 'Enquirer' will tell of Harry & Meghan's night of terror as riots and looting raged in Beverly Hills at least three miles from their home.
Thankfully we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Madeline Brewer wore it best, that TV's 'Archer' vocal star Judy Greer is "really good at pouring liquids from one container into another" (good to know if that ever becomes an Olympic sport), and that the stars are just like us: they walk the dog, play sports and do yoga. Oh, those crazy stars!
Offering a strong argument for any reader to cancel their subscription, the 'Enquirer' boasts a story about veteran porn star Ron Jeremy campaigning to save a tree planted by his father from being chopped down, as an excuse just to use the headline: "Porn Star Ron Fights To Save His Wood!"
Onwards and downwards . . .