Exposing secrets is the tabloids' life-blood, and even when there are no secrets to reveal the rags gleefully claim that's what they're doing. Whether it's an alleged "FBI cover-up," a Royal Prince's "secret deal," or a celebrity's "private hell," this week's tabloids rip the lid off the dark underside of Americana – even if there's little there that we haven't seen before.
"FBI 9/11 Cover-Up Exposed!" screams the cover. No, it wasn't.
"Warning signs ignored! Saudis financed terrorists!" But it's all old news, and it's never been covered up. US intelligence agencies have never denied that Saudis were involved in the 9/11 attacks – after all, 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. What the newly declassified files still fail to conclusively prove, despite the mounting probability, is that the Saudi government had a direct role in the attacks.
Kim Kardashian sparks the alliterative headline: "Kim Krashes 9/11 Mourners In Bondage Gear." Not exactly.
While she was spotted wearing head-to-toe black leather on September 11, Kim's attire was nothing like bondage gear. More pertinently it was New York Fashion Week, and Kardashian was attending a fashion show along with hundreds of others dressed to impress. It wasn't as if she turned up at a 9/11 memorial sporting whips and chains.
The 'Enquirer' enlists a "mental health expert" to say: "I am convinced this is a calculated cry for attention," which of course is the definition of Fashion Week, where everyone dresses to be seen.
"Willie Winds Down! Country icon pays price for rock-n-roll lifestyle," Willie Nelson is reportedly "on his last legs after decades of hard living" and "can barely walk or stand".
Strange then, that the 88-year-old is still touring and performing. Perhaps nobody's told him he's about to croak.
The British royals naturally make their obligatory appearance this week.
"Charles Can't Turn Off Shady Fixer Fawcett!" reports the 'Enquirer,' playing with a lame pun on the last name of Prince Charles' right-hand-man Michael Fawcett. Mr. Fawcett is currently embroiled in an alleged knighthood-for-cash scandal, and the 'Enquirer' claims that "Charles has been told many times to drop him but can never bring himself to do it." Why could that be? The 'Enquirer' has a salacious answer on tap, of course: "Some wonder whether the prince isn't able to let Fawcett go simply because he knows too much." RIght. It couldn't possibly be that Charles is a loyal friend, or believes Fawcett innocent.
Not to be ignored, Prince Andrew also gets the tabloid treatment this week: "Andrew's Desperate Bid To Worm Out Of Sex Suit." The 'Enquirer' reports that "Prince Andrew is using every trick in the book to wriggle free of a lawsuit brought against him in NYC by sex assault accuser Virginia Roberts," according to unnamed sources. Every trick in the book appears to include such obvious ploys as his attorney labelling the lawsuit "baseless," and claiming that a 2009 deal between Roberts and pedophile sex fiend Jeffrey Epstein granted immunity to other unnamed individuals, thereby including Andrew. If that's every trick in the book, it must be a very short book.
Prince Andrew may have been relegated to a few sentences on page 23 of the 'Enquirer,' but in the 'Globe' the same story makes him their cover boy, with "Andrew's Secret Immunity Deal!"
But Andrew doesn't have a secret immunity deal. There's only the widely publicized "immunity deal" has been known to the world for years, since prosecutors signed an agreement with Jeffrey Epstein granting immunity to his unnamed co-conspirators.
But this presents an intriguing Catch-22 for Prince Andrew, who denies ever meeting Virginia Roberts/Giuffre, let alone having sex with her: If he wants to claim immunity under that deal – a legally debatable move in itself – in doing so he would have to admit that he was one of Epstein's co-conspirators. And since Andrew insists that he never had sex with Roberts/Giuffre, let alone on the three occasions she claims, it's hard to see how he can claim that immunity.
The 'Globe' reports on Andrew's alleged immunity bid under the headline: "Arrogant Andrew: I'm Untouchable!" while reporting that the Prince "claims he has a get-out-of-jail-free card." Right.
Not willing to let Prince Andrew get off so easily, the 'Globe' carries a second story on his dilemma, interviewing Roberts/Giuffre's father, Sky Roberts, who reportedly says: "Put Prince in Prison!" He needs to know what it's like to be held accountable for his actions, he says. Indeed.
"FBI Confirms Saudis Helped 9/11 Terrorists." We've known for decades that the Saudis helped the 9/11 terrorists – heck, the terrorists were mostly Saudis, and the FBI has always acknowledged that. Newly released FBI files allegedly show that a Saudi official based in Los Angeles "helped two hijackers," claims the 'Globe' – but there's still been no conclusive evidence presented that the Saudi government was complicit in the attack. If there's a cover-up, that's what the FBI could still be hiding.
"Springsteen, 72, Wasting Away!" The 'Globe' seems horrified that rocker Bruce Springsteen isn't looking the same as "the once-buff Boss" he used to be in his 30s. Springsteen looks slim, fit and healthy, but in his eighth decade the 'Globe' would like him to look 40 years younger as well. There's no pleasing some people.
There are multiple different covers on newsstands this week, including songbird Meghan Trainor "Facing Anxiety & Finding Strength," and the murder mystery "Road Trip Nightmare – What Happened To Gabby Petito?" But it's Petito who gets the prime position six-page coverage inside, while Trainor gets second billing.
So – what happened to Gabby Petito? 'People' mag naturally doesn't know any more than anyone else, except that the 22-year-old embarked on "a treacherous journey with a tragic end." The only thing 'People' manages to prove is that pretty blondes can still command cover stories when they are murdered, while urban women of color can be slain without so much as a sentence in the glossy mags.
It's "Missing White Woman Syndrome" at its glossiest.
Yet another blonde white woman, singer Meghan Trainor, is of course "in the best place of my life," as she reveals her "battle with panic disorder and finding joy in her marriage and as a new mom." Can we please just accept that new moms often find extreme happiness in their lives, without making it appear like some revelation every week?
"My Affair With JFK – Former Aide Diana De Vegh." Take a number, Diana. How many more of JFK's secret lovers have yet to come out of the woodwork? Almost 58 years after Kennedy's death, evidently there are still some skeletons yet to emerge rattling from his closet. Diana De Vegh, now 83, reveals how as a 20-year-old junior at Radcliffe she was seduced by the charms of the senator from Massachusetts. JFK was handsome, charismatic, and strung her along for years.
Decades later, she says: "To me, the story is the inequality in romantic love, where young women keep being told it is the answer to everything. And I want to start thinking about why." Maybe she should have thought about that 63 years ago.
What would 'Us Weekly' be without a British Royal on its cover? We'll probably never know.
"Lonely Harry's Private Hell – Trapped By Meghan" is this week's astonishing cover story.
Prince Harry is kept caged under lock and key by a malicious Meghan, fed scraps left over by their rescue dogs, and only let out to feed Archie's chickens.
No, I made that up, but that's how 'Us Weekly' makes it sound. Of course it's nothing quite so terrible for Harry. The Prince, who has a reported $20 million deal for his memoir, and with Meghan has a $100 million Netflix deal and $20 million Spotify podcast deal, is supposedly "trapped" in his $14 million Montecito mansion in California, only seeing a few close friends – which is also true for millions of others as the pandemic rages.
Can it be long before royal fans worldwide begin a #FreeHarry campaign to follow the #FreeBritney phenomenon?
"Harry lives a pretty solitary life these days," says an unnamed insider, who probably hasn't actually spoken to the Prince because, you know, Harry leads a pretty solitary life these days. The supposed insider claims that Harry "goes through bouts of loneliness." Harry and Meghan are poised to party in New York this weekend – let's see how solitary Harry looks then.
"Family In Crisis." No, it's not Harry and Meghan – it's Charlie Sheen and ex-wife Denise Richards, dealing with their 17-year-old daughter Sami Sheen's split with her mother. Sami claims that she moved out of Denise Richards' "hell house" where she had been "trapped in an abusive household" and "would go days without eating or sleeping." Sounds like Duchess Meghan could pick up some useful relationship tips from Denise Richards.
Thankfully we have the crack investigative team at 'Us Weekly' to tell us that Jennifer Lopez wore it best, that NBA star Carmelo Anthony listens to jazz before games "to mellow me out" (but what does he listen to before playing the Utah Jazz? Death metal?), and that the stars are just like us: they get their temperature checked before entering buildings, celebrate their children's birthdays, and – if you're Paris and Nicky Hilton dressed to the nines on your way to a New York Fashion Week event – snack on street food in designer duds. Just like the rest of us.
Onwards and downwards . . .