First comes intrigued mistrust when reading a declarative eye-catching headline, such as this week's offerings: "Meghan's Pregnant With Twins!" in the 'Globe,' or "Epstein Madam's Secret Hubby Unmasked!" in the 'National Enquirer.'
Then comes incredulity when the story appears to be less than it first appeared.
While filled with seemingly supporting details, such as Harry and Meghan naming their unborn twin girls after their mothers – Diana and Doria – the only corroboration comes from an unnamed "palace courtier" who claims that Harry revealed the pregnancy to his grandmother, the Queen. Who no doubt then called an equerry and ordered him to call the 'Enquirer.'
Again, it's an unidentified source who claims that billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein "could easily have pulled strings to arrange a quick, discreet marriage" to his former fiancé Ghislaine Maxwell, which is entirely speculative and not in the least confirmation of any marriage to anyone.
Finally comes the realization that the story is complete BS.
One remembers that the tabloids promised us that Duchess Meghan was pregnant with twins two years ago, and we know how that turned out. And of course they can't run a story about Meghan without turning it into a cat-fight with sister-in-law Kate, so the supposed palace insider claims that Kate is "fuming" at Meghan because "she's stolen HER dream of having the first royal twins in almost 600 years!" Right.
Then you realize that the 'Enquirer' hasn't turned up a wedding license or any legal record of Epstein's supposed union with Maxwell, or even a single witness who claims they wed.
And then one remembers that when Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in July at her New Hampshire hide-away, FBI agents found her living with a man she claimed was her husband – almost exactly a year after Epstein's death. Maxwell's lawyers refused to identify her husband, but British reports claimed he was Boston tech millionaire Scott Borgerson.
The 'Enquirer' claims that Maxwell married Epstein to claim the Constitutional defense that a wife cannot be forced to testify against her husband. But that wouldn't prevent Maxwell from voluntarily testifying against him if she feels there is a favorable plea bargain to be gained.
More bizarrely, why run the headline "Epstein Madam's Secret Hubby Unmasked!" when the natural headline would be: "Billionaire Pedophile's Secret Wife Unmasked!" It's almost certainly because it's been reported that Maxwell is married, and the 'Enquirer' extrapolated backwards from there, leaping to the joyfully improbable conclusion that she married Epstein.
These three stages of disappointment as a story deflates like a leaking balloon are evident across this week's tabloid offerings.
Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton "Call Off Wedding!" screams the cover of 'Us' magazine.
But it was 'Us' mag that decided they were getting married in the first place, so it's really only 'U's mag now calling it off. The rag claims the two singers are "fighting over politics & $250 million prenup." Or could it be they postponed any wedding plans because gathering a large crowd of friends and family is unthinkable during the pandemic?
"Fox News' Tucker Carlson: Nightmare Life Exposed!" reports the 'Enquirer,' piling on the man that sister publication the 'Globe' recently branded "TV's Most Hated Host!" The 'Enquirer' promises to tell of his "Drug addiction. Branded risk by CIA. Violent temper."
But the accusations evaporate as quickly as morning mist. The alleged "drug addiction" is Carlson's alleged reliance on nicotine gum. Far from being branded a CIA risk, the story suggests that his drinking and smoking as a student would have made him an unlikely candidate for a college CIA recruiter – but there's no suggestion that he ever considered applying for the agency. And that claim by unnamed Fox staff that Carlson has a temper is unsurprising. There's little to expose here, and it hardly amounts to a "nightmare life."
The Obamas' "Marriage Hitting the Rocks!" reports the 'Globe,' which has been claiming for at least a decade that their marriage is a nightmare, and has repeatedly predicted a $250 million divorce which has yet to materialize.This week they have Michelle Obama on the record telling Conan O'Brien that she sometimes gets angry at her husband, and has "wanted to push Barack out of the window." That's the sort of flippant honesty you might get when a marriage is rock solid. People in the public eye with troubled marriages rarely discuss such details.
On the subject of separations, the 'Enquirer' reports:"It's Official! Harry & Meghan Divorce Britain!"
Whenever a tabloid uses the words "It's official" you can be certain it's nothing of the sort. Harry and Meghan have simply paid off the $3.1 million they owed British taxpayers for renovations to their Frogmore Cottage home in the grounds of Windsor Castle,, so the 'Enquirer' concludes that they have turned their backs on Britain.
It's a curious leap of logic. If Harry and Meghan truly wanted to shun Britain they would have stopped payments on the loan and just walked away. Instead, they are debt-free in the UK and have Frogmore Cottage available as an English retreat any time they choose to use it, without anyone complaining they haven't paid for the privilege.
The 'Enquirer,' perpetually obsessed with Angelina Jolie's weight, and seeming to always know how much she tips the scales to the nearest pound, dubiously reports: "Deadly Hunger Strike For Angie! Skeletal seductress shrinks to nothing in bid to best Brad in custody brawl."
Jolie has reportedly shrunk to "a skeletal 99 pounds" – quite a bit heavier than previous tabloid estimations of her weight, it should be noted.
Incredibly, the 'Enquirer' believes she has lost this weight in a bid to influence the judge in her custody battle with ex-husband Brad Pitt over their five youngest children. Is that the sort of legal advice the 'Enquirer' usually relies upon? If Brad loses weight might he stand a better chance of winning the case?
A source claims Jolie is "surviving on handfuls of grains and nuts" – not exactly a "hunger strike," but then the whole story is, like Jolie's alleged diet, a little nuts.
'People' magazine clearly suffers from a gender dilemma it can't quite resolve when reporting on the successful career of actress Regina King. In the end, it tries for the best of both worlds.
"All Hail the Queen of Hollywood!" reads the cover headline.
"All Hail the King!" states the headline on the article inside.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Katharine McPhee Foster wore it best, that Kim Cattrall collects "weaved baskets from the Kwakwaka'wakw," and that the stars are just like us: they grocery shop, dine out, and feed parking meters. And they collect Kwakwaka'wakw baskets. Just like us.
Onwards and downwards . . .