If the tabloids serve any purpose at all, it is to highlight stories that the mainstream media ignores.
It was the tabloids that found photographic evidence of O.J. Simpson wearing the Bruno Magli shoes he vowed in his murder trial he would never be caught wearing, helped find Bill Cosby's son's killer, disclosed politician John Edwards' mistress and love child, and uncovered the career-ending photo of presidential hopeful Gary Hart with mistress Donna Rice.
Though they aren't breaking the story, this week's 'National Enquirer' cover story shows why the tabloids – despite their many egregious excesses – can still shine a light on scandals that mainstream media would rather ignore.
If only one could say that the rest of this week's tabloid fare served any genuine purpose beyond sensationalized titilation.
"Hunter Biden Sex Scandal Explodes!" screams the cover story. "President's credit card used to pay hooker after wild hotel party."
This story was broken by the New York Post, but it is remarkable how America's mainstream media has turned a blind eye to compelling evidence of the president's son putting his father in a potentially compromised position, and making himself a potential target for blackmail and coercion by foreign agencies.
Text messages and receipts indicate that Hunter Biden inadvertently used his father's credit card to pay a prostitute $25,000 after his own two credit cards had appeared not to accept the charges.
Hunter, who pulled few punches in his recent self-effacing biography admitting his past abuse of sex and drugs, reportedly partied with a prostitute at The Jeremy hotel in Hollywood in May 2018, and paid $25,000 for her services.
Evidence shows that a former Secret Service agent subsequently contacted Hunter about credit card charges to an account belonging to 'Celtic ' – the agency's code name for Joe Biden.
"There is no suggestion Joe ever learned about the charges," the 'Enquirer' reports with surprising equanimity.
For the rest of its 'news,' however, the 'Enquirer' reverts to its standard operating procedure of maximum speculation based on minimal facts.
"Tech Titan McAfee's Clues He'd Be Killed!" the rag rants. "Found dead in cell, just like pal Epstein."
British-American tech millionaire John McAfee apparently hanged himself in a Spanish prison cell after nine months fighting extradition to America where he faced charges of tax evasion and a cryptocurrency swindle. His death came within days of learning that Spain had agreed to extradite him to the US for trial. Naturally, the 'Enquire'r claims that "McAfee was murdered before he could dish damaging dirt on rich and powerful pervs." Right. Because in the world of the tabloids, every billionaire is a warped pervert with incriminating evidence against their rich and powerful friends. It's a wonder that America's billionaires and tech titans aren't mysteriously found dead of suspicious suicides every day.
As for the clues that McAfee was murdered? He had the word "SWHACKD" tattooed on his arm, and wrote on Twitter: "If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whacked. Check my right arm." All of which apparently proves to the 'Enquirer' that McAfee was murdered, and not merely paranoid.
The 'Enquirer' is always quick to judge a book by its cover, and a celebrity by their latest photograph.
"Madonna's Fright Mask! Pals fear fountain of youth has dried up for Material Girl."
She's been photographed looking like she's just had a facial, so the 'Enquirer' quotes an unnamed "insider" claiming: "If Madonna doesn't lay off the cosmetic enhancements she'll turn into another Jocelyn 'Catwoman' Wildenstein!" It's the sort of quote only a tabloid journalist could invent.
"Harry's Hairy Dilemma." Prince Harry's bald spot is growing – an indisputable fact even the 'Enquirer' can't get wrong – but the rag then warns: "without a hair transplant he'll be bald by age 50, experts shockingly predicted." Why would that be shocking? Harry shows clear signs of male pattern baldness, and his brother Prince William is already bald at the age of 39. And are we expected to believe that the 'Enquirer' actually enlisted the guidance of trichological experts to make this "shocking" prediction?
"Fidel Castro Killed JFK Jr!" proclaims the 'Globe' cover story. The magazine claims to have compiled a "top secret dossier," which would truly only have been top secret if they had decided not to publish the story. The 'Globe' claims that Castro killed JFK Jr because the "President's angry son was ready to expose Cuba dictator's role in Dallas assassination."
Yes, apparently Castro was frightened by allegations that had been made against him hundreds of times before by many more powerful and influential people than JFK Jr over the decades. It makes no sense at all that Castro, having arguably got away with assassinating President John F Kennedy, would want to eliminate JFK's son just because he might thrown an allegation in his direction.
Diving into the world of geopolitical reporting in North Korea, the 'Globe' tells of: "Crocodile Tears For Skinny Kim!" The 'Globe' reminds readers that despite losing an alleged 44 pounds – the tabloids always know to the exact ounce how much the world's political leaders each weigh – the North Korean leader "is still fat as a pig." Good to know.
"Navy's Secret UFO Project Exposed!" No, it isn't. An engineer at Maryland's Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division reportedly filed for a patent in 2018 to develop a craft using previously untested technology, but the project was abandoned the following year, allegedly because the science behind the craft "could not be proven to exist."
"Salma Hayek's Boobs Explode!" No, they don't. The actress recently confessed that with age, pregnancy and weight gain, her breasts "just keep growing." She added: "The boobs grow – a lot." Grow? Yes. Explode? No.
"Julie Andrews' Desperate Dream To Sing Again! Mary Poppins legend spending fortune on hunt for medical cure." Andrews has donated substantial sums to medical research, but there is nothing to suggest she has done so in the hope of repairing her vocal cords damaged during surgery.
"Odd Reason Baby Mom Won't Wed Statham!" Rosie Huntington-Whitely says she won't marry action star Jason Statham because it seems "silly" after 11 years together, according to unnamed "pals." It's sad that the 'Globe' can purportedly interview the couple's friends and the single word they can extract in quotes is "silly." Good talk.
"Gwen & Blake's Country Wedding!" dominates the cover, with wedding snaps and smiles from the happy couple, undoubtedly "living their best life" in the traditional 'People' mag ethos. Singers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton appear to have sold their wedding photos exclusively to 'People' mag in exchange for favorable coverage, though it's worth noting that neither the bride nor groom gave a single quote to the publication: selling their privacy without selling their souls.
"J Lo & Ben Moving In Together" claims the unsubstantiated cover story on Messrs. Lopez & Affleck, reunited 17 years after breaking off their engagement. Unnamed sources claim that J Lo is househunting in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood where Affleck currently lives. They are allegedly "discussing" marriage and "their respective camps have even begun preliminary prenup negotiations." Because nothing boosts a romance better than getting your lawyers involved. "Working Out Half a Billion-Plus Prenup" claims a cover headline. As if that won't put any pressure on their loving mood.
"Harry & William – Explosive Peace Talks." The princely brothers reunited in England last week, but "sources tell 'Us' that things are still strained behind the scenes." Well that certainly sounds explosive.
"Jen Opens Up – Truth About Me & Brad!" Of course, Jennifer Aniston opens up to nobody, least of all 'Us Weekly,' about ex-husband Brad Pitt. The one-paragraph story quotes Aniston in a recent interview saying: "Brad and I are buddies, we're friends." Well, that's a shock. Naturally, an unnamed insider claims that "They have a friends with occasional benefits situation going on." Right. Because two Hollywood celebrities who were formerly married couldn't just be friends, could they?
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Rita Ora wore it best, that Constance Zimmer "was an extra in the Pepsi commercial when Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire," and that the stars are just like us: they eat fast food, grocery shop, jog and ride bikes. Scintillating, as ever.
Onwards and downwards . . .