In this time of national soul searching in the aftermath of the attack on the US Capitol, as Cabinet members hold whispered discussions about who should explain the 25th Amendment to the President, Donald Trump's unrelenting dedication to lies, disinformation and delusional fantasy is reflected in that most American of institutions: the supermarket tabloids.
Though the assault on the hallowed halls of American democracy came too late for this week's editions, the tabloids hold dear to their unwavering belief in those Trumpian qualities.
And like Trump, the tabloids unerringly listen to the experts and specialists.
"New Sex Scandal Nightmare! Bill & Hillary $250M Divorce Explodes!" screams the cover of this week's 'National Enquirer.'
This is the same divorce that the 'Enquirer' reported on in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2017, last year and numerous other times. They haven't been right yet, but you can't say they're not trying.
But this time out the 'Enquirer' reports, in the typically grammatically-challenged cadence of the tabloids, that the Clintons' "marriage explodes over new sex scandal."
No, it's not Bill's entanglement with the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, or the unsubstantiated rumors that he romanced Epstein's right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell.
It's "damning photo evidence" that proves the former President and First Lady have "already called it quits."
This new "sex scandal" is a photo showing Bill and Hillary standing together – fully clothed, one might note. Her hands are clasped in front; his are stuffed in his pockets.
A casual observer might miss the sex scandal, but fortunately the 'Enquirer' enjoys the services of "body language expert Susan Constantine" to explain that the way they are positioned screams "Divorce!"
Compelling evidence, indeed.
Equally hard to ignore is the 'Globe' cover story about Ghislaine Maxwell, currently awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges: "Epstein Madam's Psych Report Exposed! Chilling reason Ghislaine Maxwell can't be set free!" The psych report's conclusion? "Ghislaine Maxwell 'Is A Psychopath!'" yells the headline across two pages inside.
Does the court's psychological evaluation of Maxwell really brand her a psychopath? Of course not.
The 'Globe' doesn't have its sticky fingers anywhere near Maxwell's psych report, so it's created its own, inspired by the accusation of one of her accusers – neither a psychologist nor trained in psychological evaluations – who in court papers claims: "I believe that she is a psychopath."
The rag supports this medical diagnosis by drawing on the expertise of two actual psychologists who have never met, spoken with or treated Maxwell: always the best way to evaluate a patient's psychological health, as any tabloid medical expert can tell you.
"I'm sure she's thought about hanging herself," says clinical psychologist Dr Judith Kuriansky, who apparently is also a psychic.
Royal scandals of dubious origins fill the tabloids as ever.
"Duchess Meghan's Plan To Rule Hollywood!" proclaims the 'Enquirer.' She has signed deals with Netflix and Spotify to produce morally and ethically uplifting content highlighting social and cultural issues, which sounds like a recipe to spend half her life attending documentary film festivals in Bakersfield and Little Rock, but which the 'Enquirer' views as a plan for the Duchess "to launch herself as new Angelina." As in Jolie, but presumably without the six children or the three divorces.
But while producers might be sending Meghan film scripts, there's no indication that she plans a return to acting, certainly not as a 'Tomb Raider' style action hero. Gal Gadot at the age of 35 may portray Wonder Woman, but it would take an incredibly reckless Hollywood studio to gamble a blockbuster tentpole movie on the unproven box office drawing power of 39-year-old former cable TV starlet Meghan. And she could be equally reluctant to take on a major movie role, knowing that a single flop could not only end her acting career but also permanently tarnish her Royal brand.
"Prince Andrew's Funny Money!" is the headline above an "Enquirer Special Investigation," which amounts to opening up any British newspaper for the past ten years and regurgitating questions about the Prince's dubious choice of friends among oligarchs and dictators.
"There is a mystery where Andrew's money comes from," says an unnamed source, which simply means that the 'Enquirer' doesn't know where the Prince gets his income, but not necessarily that it's fishy. Then again this is Prince Andrew we're talking about, so there could be a whole aquarium's worth of fishy going on.
The 'Globe' reports that Prince Charles and wife Camilla are – forgive their syntax – "Tying Knot Again!" while Prince Harry "Risks His Titles If He Becomes U.S. Citizen."
Camilla supposedly is "forcing wedding to prop up her claim on crown," says the linguistically fractured headline, clearly written like an old telegram that charged by the word. But Camilla is already Charles's wife, so it's hard to imagine that renewing their vows will make her any more of a wife, or any likelier to one day be named The Queen, rather than Queen Consort as widely expected.
The chances of Harry relinquishing his titles if he becomes an American citizen also appear slim, because even though the United States requires citizens to "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty," the British government routinely ignores such apostasy by declaring that once a Briton, always a Briton, which is how Anglo-Americans maintain dual citizenship.
'Us' and 'People' magazine both put Prince Harry on their covers, but with two different love stories.
"Why William Forgave Harry," reveals 'Us,' while 'People' reports on "Meghan & Harry – How They Changed the Royal Family Forever."
The brothers have reconciled because "they both agree life is too short for pettiness and animosity," claims an unnamed royal insider, reciting banal fortune cookie bromides.
Harry and Meghan allegedly changed the Royal Family when he married a biracial woman, though it's hard to see exactly how the family changed since they generally rejected her. The couple changed the Royal Family more by removing themselves from it. Hardly an inspiring story about a family whose primary purpose today seems to be to generate storylines for 'The Crown.'
Daring to venture beyond Buckingham Palace, the 'Globe' heads to Monaco to report: "Prince Albert Caught In Love Child Scandal!" No, its reporters probably never left Boca Raton, Florida, but they're capable of reading the British newspapers that first reported on a Brazilian woman demanding a DNA test to prove that Albert is her daughter's father. The billionaire prince, who already supports two other illegitimate children, is denying paternity, which didn't work out so well for him in the past.
Doing its bit to help encourage the COVID-19 vaccination effort, the 'Globe' reports that new vaccines "may be worse than the virus they're designed to cure," promising such delightful side-effects as "deadly allergic reactions, debilitating illness, migraine headaches and even paralysis in some patients!"
Just the public health message the nation needs right now.
Just a week after Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton featured as soon-to-wed lovebirds on the cover of 'People' magazine, this week they are pictured in the 'Enquirer' and 'Globe' having what was allegedly an argument in public.
"Trouble in Paradise!" declares the 'Globe,' while the 'Enquirer' uses the same photos to conclude: "The Wedding Is Off!" Because one argument is usually grounds for ending a relationship, isn't it?
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Leomie Anderson wore it best, that The Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am's "secret talent is cooking vegan tamales," and that the stars are just like us: they go shopping, take hikes, and eat takeout. Thrilling as ever.
Onwards and downwards . . .