Bill Gates and the Royal wiretap scandal in this week's dubious tabloids

An essential roundup of the most inessential journalism

Who are you going to believe: the tabloids, or your own lying eyes? The National Enquirer cover is dominated by a photo of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's BFF Ghislaine Maxwell sporting a black eye, after she allegedly suffered a "terrifying attack" and was "battered in a brutal prison beatdown."

Forget the fact that this minor injury hardly looks like a savage prison beating, and the fact that her own lawyer told a judge in court that the injury came from Maxwell sleeping uncomfortably on a sock or towel in a bid to protect her eyes from the lights shone by guards every 15 minutes through the night.

As brutal prison beatdowns go, she shows surprisingly few signs of trauma, unless she was beaten in a vigorous pillow-fight.

Was there another woman behind Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates' recent divorce announcement? The 'Enquirer' would like you to think so.

"Beauty Caught In Bill Gates' $146B Divorce" reports the rag, naming Ann Winblad, a former girlfriend of the tech tycoon's predating his 27-year marriage to Melinda. Because Bill and Ann remained friends long after their break-up, the Enquirer implies she's somehow involved in his divorce, even though Bill and Ann broke up in 1987, and she's been married for the past six years.

How confident is the Enquirer that Ann Winblad played a role in Gates' divorce? An unnamed source tells them: "In truth, there's no evidence to support that." But they ran the story anyway.

In the tabloid universe men are either sex-crazed power-hungry perverts or hen-packed wimps, which is why the Enquirer this week tells us: "Dueling Duchesses Destroyed Royal Band of Brothers!"

Princes William and Harry will allegedly never again be friends "because their wives, Kate and Meghan, won't ever reconcile," according to unnamed "royal sources." Apparently the "warring wives stand in way of healing the rift." The 'Enquirer' assumes that William and Harry are weak-minded saps under their wives' thumbs and incapable of independent thought or forgiveness, while presuming that Kate and Meghan couldn't possibly bury the hatchet and become friends.

Who are you going to believe: the tabloids, or your own lying eyes?

"Fears Kanye's Eating Himself Into Grave!" rages the 'Globe. "Inside dish on 310-lb rapper's wild food binges."

There they go again, with their team of private investigators putting electronic bugs in celebrity bathroom scales to bring us the exact weight of the stars to the nearest ounce. And yet Kanye West in the Globe photos appears barely heavier than he has looked for years. Though it's hard to tell from his loose-fitting clothing, it's inconceivable that he is anywhere close to 300 pounds.

The Globe feeds its readers photos of Kanye eating fried chicken, burgers, fries and ice cream — not all on the same day, of course — and claims that pals fear "he's digging an early grave with his knife and fork!" And we all know how long it can take to dig a six-foot deep hole when you don't have a decent shovel.

But a little research reveals that the photo of Kanye eating KFC was taken in February 2020, and the photo of him eating ice cream was snapped in August 2018—all before his split from Kim Kardashian allegedly drove him to self-comfort with food. In other words, his unhealthy diet has been his regular regimen for years, and evidence of Kanye's weight game—as if it's anyone's business but his own — is sorely lacking.

"Royal Wiretap Scandal Explodes!" proclaims the cover of the 'Globe.' "Screaming matches, insults & lies caught on tape."

Or were they? The Globe can't make up its mind whether Princes Harry, William and Charles all recorded their own phone calls with one another, or if they actually had phone lines tapped to record calls they weren't party to.

Harry and Meghan allegedly "fired the first salvo" by recording personal conversations with various royal family members, "then publicly leaking damaging information."

And here's where the story's logic immediately breaks down: how would anyone in the royal family know that Harry or Meghan had recorded calls simply because the information was leaked? They might know that the information could only have been disclosed by Harry and Meghan, but they couldn't presume that anything had been recorded.

Nevertheless, the Globe claims that the Queen's loyal "Men in Grey" — her senior palace staff — allegedly retaliated by hiring a "special security team" to "monitor" Harry and Meghan's calls.

This is clearly an allegation that the Queen and her minions have wiretapped Harry and Meghan's phone at their home in California, a serious criminal offense.

But then the Globe seems to backtrack, suggesting only that Princes William and Charles have been recording their own conversations with Harry and Meghan (still illegal in the UK and in California without both parties' stated permission).

"Now both sides of this bitter conflict have damning dossiers to use as leverage to get their own way." Recordings allegedly "expose family screaming matches over everything from sex scandals, status, money, race and accusations of lies and betrayal!" But Harry and Meghan, William and Charles were actual participants in these alleged phone conversations, so there's no need to record them to prove what was said — unless one of the royals plans to go public with the evidence, which is almost unthinkable.

It's been a doubly bad week for the Microsoft mogul, as the Globe reports: "Bill Gates' $130 Billion Divorce Explodes!" You'll notice he's lost $16 billion since the Enquirer reported on his $146 billion divorce. That must hurt.

Pop singer Pink dominates the cover of People with "Confessions of a Rock Star Mom," with the magazine's typical I've-been-through-hard-times-and-learned-to-love-myself story arc.

The star "opens up about fighting for her 15-year marriage with Carey Hart, raising their two 'joyful' kids, and what it took to find true happiness." Pink confesses: "I'm pretty normal in a weird way." Well, that explains it.

You can always trust People to ask the right questions, even if it doesn't always have the answer, as in this week's story: "Bill & Melinda Gates: What Went Wrong."

Allegedly Melinda was "more interested in women's issues" and their charitable foundation, while Bill was "far more interested in the business side of his life." Sure, they may have different interests, but that's not what went wrong. "He could have treated Melinda better" says an unnamed source, stating the obvious about pretty much every marriage. "He's not a saint, but there isn't one thing that created the final split." Exactly: the breakdown of a marriage is often a complex and multi-layered 3-D jigsaw puzzle, which People would like to reduce to a simple formula. Perhaps they always argued over who was going to pay the bills?

Us Weekly, the magazine that routinely brings us news from behind palace doors, is strangely less informed than most speculation outside the palace grounds this week. It devotes its cover to "Meghan's Delivery Drama! Tears! Calls off baby shower. Panic! Harry risks it all with last-minute trip."

It's still the middle of a pandemic, so is it surprising that Meghan has opted for a "virtual soiree with about a dozen or so loved ones" instead of getting together with a large group of friends in the flesh? Why would that provoke tears?

And how will Harry "risk it all"? Evidently he's planning on attending the July 1 UK unveiling of a statue honoring his mother, Princess Diana, not long before Meghan is due to give birth to their daughter, so he might run the chance of missing the delivery. I guess that's the "delivery drama" the cover refers to. It's certainly a dilemma that Harry will have to consider, but there's very little drama in it yet.

"The End of Scientology?" begs a front-page headline, though inevitably any headline ending with a question mark can almost always be answered: "No."

Scientology adherents Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley have all sold their Los Angeles homes in the past five years, prompting the bizarre conclusion that the cult religion might be on its last legs. Us answers its own question: "The religion isn't going anywhere just yet." Indeed.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us to tell us that Hailey Bieber wore it best, that Jane Seymour "craved pickles, not chocolate" when she was young, that Gina Torres keeps chewing gum, wet wipes, sunglasses and iPhone earbuds that don't fit her ears in her Jamah leather satchel, and that the stars are just like us: they run errands, walk the dog, and donate cash to the homeless when they know somebody with a camera is watching them do it.

Onwards and downwards . . .