Topless teens and palace intrigue in this week's dubious tabloids

Failed soufflés fill this week's tabloids: unpalatable stories full of hot air that quickly deflate, devoid of nutritious content and depressingly indigestible.

"Harry & Meghan. What Really Happened," screams the cover of the 'National Enquirer.' "Kate Sets The Record Straight. Who's to Blame. Furious Fights. William's Tears."

In this soap opera saga of the British Royal Family sadly Duchess Kate does not set the record straight. Unsurprisingly, Kate says absolutely nothing, despite the inside spread's headline: "Kate Finally Fights Back!" If only.

The story claims, without substantiation, that Duchess Kate is planning a tell-all TV interview. But then an unnamed "royal insider" adds: "But she is resisting." No kidding.

Then the 'Enquirer' hauls out all the tired old tropes. Who's to blame? None other than "conniving diva" Duchess Meghan, of course, for forcing Harry to quit Britain, claims the source, who adds: "William was in tears over Harry's betrayal." Sure he was.

"New Epstein crisis rocks the palace," proclaims the cover of the 'Globe.' "Prince Andrew Fails Lie Detector! Rogue royal's romp with topless teens! Why he'll never cooperate with FBI. Ghislaine Maxwell's damning testimony."

So much to digest, but it all quickly falls apart.

No, Prince Andrew hasn't sat down for a lie detector test, with the 'Globe' or with anyone else. It's the discredited pseudoscientific "voice stress analysis" run third-hand, claiming that the prince was lying when he told the BBC last year that he and alleged Epstein sex slave Virginia Guiffre "never had any sort of sexual contact whatsoever," and that he had "no memory" of the photograph that shows them together.

Unnamed sources claim Andrew won't speak to the FBI "for fear his testimony will land him behind bars!" Hardly original.

And the topless teens? The 'Globe' borrows that allegation from a new book, 'The Spider' – notably by former 'Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine – which reports that Andrew attended a photoshoot with Epstein at the billionaire's Virgin Islands retreat "where eight Russian girls were topless!" There is no mention of their ages, and the book apparently only claims that Virginia Guiffre was still a teenager at 19 years old when she joined the photoshoot, with no known reference to the ages of the eight supposedly Russian models. The 'Globe' dutifully adds that an unidentified palace aide calls the tale "untrue." Not to mention lurid.

As for Maxwell's "damning testimony," newly released deposition files failed to implicate Prince Andrew in any fresh wrongdoings beyond those allegations already well known.

One of the key rules guiding tabloids' celebrity coverage is this: whatever a celebrity does, it's wrong.

Stay home to avoid coronavirus? You're a recluse! Go out to work? You're killing yourself!

Which is exactly how the 'Globe' reports on two veteran stars this week.

"Michelle Phillips Turning Recluse! Mamas & Papas legend, 76, rarely leaves L.A. home."

Like almost everyone else under coronavirus restrictions, one might mention. And then there's the counterpoint: "New Fears For Alan Alda, 86!"

The 'Globe' warns that the former 'M.A.S.H.' star is "headed for a devastating deadly health crisis" – because he's "busier now than he ever was."

With the tabloids, you just can't win.

It's the same when the tabloids turn their critical eye to celebrities' weight: they are either dangerously thin, or so fat they are digging their own grave with a spoon.

This week the 'Enquirer' brings us the tale of singer Jessica Simpson's weight loss: "The Skinny on Jessica's Obsession! Pals worry bony blond may use diet pills."

Simpson – who looks neither fat nor thin, but simply hale and hearty – evidently can't be allowed to lose weight and look healthy without being shamed for it. Body positivity has not yet reached the bottom-dwelling depths of the tabloids, it appears.

Sophomoric puns are aplenty in this week's rags.

Reese Witherspoon's sorrow over her pet's death is retold with a laugh in the 'Enquirer' as: "Reese Goes to Pieces Over Losing Beloved Dog." Reese's Pieces! Geddit!

CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, reportedly caught pleasuring himself during a Zoom video conference with colleagues, is reported in the 'Globe' as: "Kinky Toobin Gets Yanked!" Toobin yanked! Geddit!

The most bizarre story in this week's tabloids is the 'Globe' two-page spread: "COVID Vaccines: What You Need To Know."

It's a shockingly unsensational and accurate report on progress being made on coronavirus vaccines in development. There is no over-hyping of early test results, no unrealistic Trumpian promises of a miracle vaccine for all by New Year's Day, and no QAnon scaremongering about vaccines being used to sterilize minorities or implant tracking microchips in patients. Just the facts. Whoever is responsible for this feature has undoubtedly been fired by now.

Relitigating history, the 'Globe' treads on much shakier ground with its story: "How Kennedy Stole The White House!"

No, he didn't excavate the foundations, put the White House on a giant caterpillar-tread mover and secretly haul the building off to the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port in Cape Cod.

The rag claims that "Newly discovered documents reveal Republican Richard Nixon REALLY won the 1960 presidential election" after JFK used "dirty tricks" and ballot fraud to steal the election. It's never explained what these documents are, or what they actually reveal. Regardless, allegations that the Chicago mob may have boosted Kennedy's vote count don't necessarily prove that Nixon would have otherwise won the election without Democratic dirty tricks. And rumor has it that Nixon had a few dirty tricks of his own.

'Enquirer' and 'Globe' stablemate 'Us' magazine devotes its cover to the lifestyle guru and former star of TV's 'Fixer Upper' – "Inside Joanna Gaines' $100m Gamble. Risking It All!"

No, she didn't bet on the Tampa Bay Rays to beat the Dodgers in the World Series. Gaines is instead launching her own TV network.

But since the report clearly states that Gaines and her husband Chip "are reportedly worth $20 million" it's clear that her "$100 m gamble" must be with a lot of other people's money. And you can bet she's not putting all of her $20 million on the line, either.

Timing is everything in the news business, and 'Us' magazine clearly has its finger on the pulse of pop culture, as shown by its story on singers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton: "Gwen & Blake Wedding Drama. Breaking Point! Blake & Gwen Hit A Rough Patch."

The story appears just as the happy couple announced their engagement, in stark contrast to the 'Us' mag story that reports: "behind closed doors things aren't as perfect as they seem." That's certainly true behind the editorial doors of 'Us' mag.

'People' magazine brands this week's humble offering its "kindness issue," in soft-spoken self-deprecating lower case. It's filled with celebrities talking about acts of kindness that have touched their lives, or that they perform, along with its cover story on TV's 'Grey's Anatomy' star Caterina Scorsone' and her Down Syndrome daughter Pippa, under the headline: "My Daughter Is Perfect."

It's a feel-good issue, with the rag celebrating "Good Samaritans" – non-celebrities, to you and me – whose acts of kindness have earned them a 'People Kindness Award' and $1,000 each from the mag that spends much of the year dissecting celebrities' broken marriages, infidelities and chronic diseases – always with kindness, I'm sure.

'People' also features "The Royals Next Door" – Zara & Mike Tindell: the Queen's oldest granddaughter and her husband. Naturally, both fail to speak to 'People' magazine, which nevertheless runs a three-page clippings job on the couple.

The mag also carries a feature interview: "Kamala Harris & Husband Doug Emhoff. Racing To Make History." At least someone is actually talking to 'People.'

The mag also brings us a delightful spread on TV veterans "Maury Povich & Connie Chung – Our 42-Year Love Story," coming at least 12 years after anyone stopped caring.

Thankfully we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Cara Santana wore it best, that '20/20' co-anchor Amy Robach "can moonwalk," and that the stars are just like us: they pump gas, buy flowers, and order takeout. Scintillating, as always.

One of the most perplexing offerings in this week's tabloids comes in the form of an advert in the 'Enquirer' for a "President Donald Trump Outdoor Address Sign."

Promising excitedly to be "over 1 Foot Wide!" the metal sign boasts a picture of Trump giving the thumbs-up, and beneath the words "TRUMP" and "Keep America Great" readers can have their own address personalized free of charge – or at least, included in the $99.99 price.

"Act now," urges the ad, unsurprisingly since this highly desirable product could have a rather limited shelf life if Trump fails to win reelection.

For those with broader tastes the 'Globe' offers a limited edition figurine of Michelle Obama, and though it is only 11 inches tall it somehow makes her look as if she is wearing 12-inch heels beneath her flowing white gown – also only $99.99.

Decisions, decisions.

Onwards and downwards . . .