You can’t argue with the facts, and the fact is, this week’s tabloids don’t have many of them.
“Wacko Jacko Flunks Pedophile Lie Test!” reports the National Enquirer. No, there isn’t such a thing as a pedophile lie test. The Enquirer obtained video of Jacko’s deposition in a 1996 child molestation inquiry, and had a “lie detection expert” analyze the singer’s voice stress. “He’s just spouting lies,” concludes the analyst. Science at its best.
“Proof Wacko Jacko Was Twisted Perv!” proclaims the Globe, which coincidentally also obtained video of Jacko’s 1996 deposition, and had a “renowned body language expert” analyze the singer’s movements. “His high, false laughter is a cover for lying,” declares the analyst. You gotta love science.
"William & Kate Named King & Queen!” screams the Enquirer cover, declaring: “Queen Gives Up Throne." No, she hasn’t. The Act of Settlement of 1701 makes the monarch’s successor the next Protestant in line to the throne, no matter what the Queen declares or who she names as her heir to the crown. Prince Charles could choose to abdicate once his mother dies, but the Queen can’t declare William king without an act of Parliament to change existing succession laws.
It’s always interesting to get the intelligent American perspective on the British Royal Family, and the National Examiner provides that with its exclusive report on Prince Charles’ wife: “Craggy Camilla’s $100,000 facelift!” It’s an exclusive because the massed ranks of the British Royal press corps somehow failed to notice that Camilla had a full facelift, liposuction, and her teeth capped. Read the rest
The world’s longest-running soap opera, otherwise known as the British Royal Family, takes some shocking plot twists in this week’s dramatic though fact-challenged tabloids.
“Drunken Camilla’s Brawl With Queen!” screams the Globe, complete with a photo of Her Majesty with a “bloody eye wound.” “Raging Camilla” attacked the Queen, “threw a glass of red wine in her face and ripped a treasured pearl necklace from Her Majesty’s throat” before Prince Charles dragged her off, the rag reports. “Crazy drunk Camilla snaps as insults fly,” claims the tabloid, which has a storied history of quoting verbatim from private conversations among the Royals, thanks to a series of well-hidden listening devices – or possibly an over-active editorial imagination. When they make the TV movie the Queen will doubtless played by Joan Collins, and Camilla by Linda Evans. Expect a cat-fight in the Royal lily pond.
Is it unsporting to note that the photo of the bloodied monarch at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle was actually taken on November 2, 2016, at the launch of Prince Andrew’s Pitch@Palace Event in London? Surely only a cad would point out that the Queen’s photo has been flipped, and the burst blood vessel in her left eye seen in the Globe was actually in her right eye two years ago? I wouldn’t stoop so low.
Prince Harry’s months-old marriage to Meghan Markle dominates the National Enquirer under the headline: “Harry Confesses to William: ‘It’s Hell at Home! . . . This was the biggest mistake of my life!’” A “distraught” Harry “begged his big brother, Prince William, for advice.” My advice: Stop reading the tabloids. Read the rest
Reality packed its bags, cancelled the mail, put its dog in a kennel and boarded a plane to take a long flight as far away as possible from this week’s tabloids.
Former FBI chief "Hoover Ordered Kennedys & MLK Murdered!” screams the National Enquirer front page, promising “Explosive PROOF That Will Change History.” Don’t rewrite the history books yet. Their “proof” is a memo from FBI archives in which J. Edgar Hoover wrote of his dislike for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Hardly a smoking gun, and about as new as the Gutenberg Bible. Why doesn’t the Enquirer answer the really hard question: Did Hoover kill JFK, RFK and MLK because he hated acronyms?
“Prince Philip, 97, DIED & Came Back to Life!” in his recent car crash, proclaims the Globe cover. The Queen’s consort allegedly died before the accident, and the impact restarted his heart. The Globe presumably knows this because the tabloid has the Prince wired to an EKG at all times, transmitting real-time info to its reporting team, trained cardiologists every one of them. That would explain why Prince Philip was taken to the hospital and released the same day, because that’s standard medical procedure for someone who just died and was brought back to life.
"Robert Wagner blocks bid to exhume Natalie!” reports the Enquirer. It’s hardly shocking that Hollywood veteran Wagner might not want wife Natalie Wood's remains disturbed, but he doesn’t have a say in the matter – Wood’s exhumation could be ordered by the Los Angeles County Coroner, the LAPD or the Sheriff’s Department regardless of what Wagner thinks. Read the rest
There are trace elements of facts in many of this week’s tabloids stories, but that hasn’t stopped the rags’ alchemists from spinning gold out of these barely-detectable sub-atomic particles. Read the rest
If you roll up a copy of this week’s Globe tabloid into the shape of a seashell and hold it to your ear, you can hear the sound of President Trump screaming. Just because they’re packed with fact-challenged celebrity gossip doesn’t mean that the tabloids can’t give us insight into American politics. President Trump has long used the National Enquirer and Globe as mouthpieces for his thoughts, and this week it appears that trend continues.
Just because Globe and National Enquirer chief David Pecker has been granted immunity by Robert Mueller’s investigation into former Trump attorney Michael Cohen in exchange for spilling the beans about covering up scandals it uncovered on the president, that apparently doesn’t mean the magazine has ceased in its slavish devotion to the man who believes that cold hamburgers are an appropriate breakfast (or lunch) of champions. Which is why it’s illuminating to see this week’s Globe effectively demonize conservative talk radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh for almost single-handedly helping to “shut down the government.”
Forget President Trump’s order to close down the government, the Democrats’ inability to find a compromise that doesn’t involve building a wall along the border with Mexico, and the Republicans’ refusal to stand up to Trump. As far as the Globe is concerned, it wants its readers to know that Limbaugh, dubbed on its front page the “Most Powerful Man in Politics” – is the one most responsible for the shutdown, thanks to his repeated radio attacks on immigrants.
“He demanded GOP legislators and the White House refuse to support any funding bill to keep federal agencies operating unless the legislation financed building the wall,” reports the Globe. Read the rest
It’s a fresh and shiny New Year filled with hope and possibilities, but the same ol’ exaggerations, fantasy and fact-challenged nonsense as ever proliferates in this week’s tawdry tabloids. And as ever, they dig deep into the past for "news" we’ve seen many times before.
“This Man Killed Diana in Paris Tunnel!” screams the National Enquirer cover story about the death of a Princess, naming Parisian limo driver-bodybuilder Le Van Thanh. But Thanh was identified as the driver of a Fiat Uno that possibly clipped Diana’s limousine at least as far back as 2007, has been photographed numerous times, and to this day being at the scene of the 1997 accident. So much for its “World Exclusive.”
“Burt Reynolds Murdered This Man – and got away with it!” proclaims the Globe cover, accusing the late Smokey and the Bandit star of battering to death business manager David Whiting in 1973. The coroner ruled the death a drug overdose, but tabloids speculated at the time that Reynolds may have killed Whiting in a love battle over British actress Sarah Miles. What’s new 45 years later? Only that Reynolds is now dead and can’t sue. So much for its “World Exclusive.”
You want up-to-the-minute news? “Julia Roberts has abandoned long-suffering hubby Danny Moder” and has “run straight into the arms of old friend George Clooney,” claims the Enquirer. For the TV-viewing millions who watched Julia Roberts cuddling, laughing and kissing with Danny Moder at Sunday’s Golden Globes Awards, we can only assume that it was actually George Clooney in disguise. Read the rest
A peer-reviewed study conducted by a trio of Princeton and NYU political scientists and published in Science Advances systematically examined the proliferation of fake news in the 2016 election cycle and found that, contrary to earlier reports, disinformation did not get shared very widely, and that most of it was right-wing, and that the people who shared disinformation of all political orientation were over 65.
Read the rest
Nope, ankle scarves are not the latest thing to come out of Italy or Germany or wherever. I was skeptical when I came across this Country Living article that declared them a "trend," as the image is clearly Photoshopped. So, I started digging. First I went to its source, an Italian website called Lercio. Then I clicked to Lercio's source, a German site called Der Postillon and that's when I knew my suspicions were true. Ankle scarves are fake news parading around on English sites as a real trend.
And that's when I came across this article on Lifehacker. Its author, Nick Douglas, breaks it down for us:
Read the rest
That’s because there is no ankle scarf trend. I’m not saying that there’s really only one person who once wore tiny scarves on their ankles. I’m saying that the photo comes from this joke article on the German satire site Der Postillon.
See, Der Postillon published a joke article that teens in Berlin are wearing scarves around their ankles, to stay warm while wearing fashionably short pants. Then the Italian satire site Lercio syndicated that article. Lercio isn’t pretending to be real any more than Der Postillon is; the front page includes stories about a hermit hiding inside his mailbox, and the pope fighting over parking spots for the Popemobile.
When a blogger for the American site BestProducts.com—not a satire site—picked up the ankle scarf story, she either failed to notice that it was satire, or decided that it would make a better story if she didn’t mention that part.
This week’s tabloids have climbed into their DeLorean, sped up to 88 mph, and raced back to the future to report on scandals that won’t actually happen until next week.
The British Royal Family doesn't gather at Sandringham Palace until Christmas Eve, yet days before this festive conclave, the Globe gleefully reports on a clash that almost kills the Queen on Christmas Day. “Queen, 92, Collapses – As Meghan Starts All-Out Family War!” screams the Globe cover.
A battle reportedly erupted as Britain’s most famous real-life soap stars sat down to watch British TV’s most beloved soap opera EastEnders – an unlikely Royal tradition beloved by the Queen – which is set to air on Christmas Day at 9:15 p.m. “It was a recipe for disaster,” reports the Globe, whose crack squad of psychic reporters have been working overtime looking into the future.
Meghan was so bored by the TV show (which, I’ll point out again, has not yet screened) that she began to walk out, when sister-in-law Kate whispered to her to remain. “Meghan went crazy!” reports the magazine, which redundantly tags its exclusive “Only in Globe!” She allegedly yelled: “Don’t tell me what to do!”
The Queen rose from her armchair to intervene in the “bitter catfight” when Her Majesty “suddenly collapsed, falling backwards, dizzy and pale," say unnamed sources who clearly possess very powerful crystal balls, as told to journalists with balls made of even stronger stuff. Says an insider: “It’s Meghan’s fault!”
How has the Globe psychic reporting squad seen so far into the future, with such accuracy that they can quote verbatim from the Royal argument set to take place in several days time? Read the rest
Tabloid headlines are from Mars, tabloid stories are from Venus. That’s how far removed are this week’s stories and the headlines that top them.
“Scott Peterson murdered 2 other women!” screams the National Enquirer cover. No he didn’t, says the story inside, despite the spread headline: “Scott Peterson a Serial Killer!” Convicted wife-killer Peterson is nothing more than a possible suspect in two cold case deaths to which he has the most tenuous of connections.
“Jen Garner Recruited by Hollywood Cult!” proclaims the Enquirer. No she wasn’t, says the Enquirer story. Rather than being recruited, actress Garner is simply the subject of an alleged crush by Scientology chief David Miscavige. Garner herself appears unaware of any interest in her by Scientology, but that’s enough for the Enquirer to say: “Friends fear she’s vulnerable to recruiters.” Right.
“Money-hungry Meghan turns back on America!” yells the Globe cover. “Gives up U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes!” No, she hasn’t, says the story inside. The Duchess of Sussex “is still an American citizen,” an IRS source reportedly tells the Enquirer. And if she were to relinquish her U.S. citizenship it wouldn’t be to avoid paying taxes, but to avoid exposing the sources of her income – Prince Harry and the Queen – to unwanted scrutiny by America’s IRS. The Palace tells the Enquirer “there’s no truth” to the story. Indeed.
Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber face a “billion dollar divorce shocker!" reports the Enquirer. No, they don’t. She’s simply been photographed without her wedding ring, for which there could be a hundred rational explanations not involving a marital split. Read the rest
The British press treat their Royal Family like a soap opera, complete with catfighting sisters-in-law, feuding brothers separating their lives, and an impatient heir to the throne, so it’s hard to fault the American tabloids for running with the soap opera theme – and doing it better.
“William Seizes Throne – from murderer Charles!” screams the Globe cover. No, the Queen hasn’t died, and Prince William hasn’t launched a Palace coup to kill his father (Charles is branded a “murderer” by the tabloids for allegedly masterminding the death of Princess Diana.) William reportedly presented the Queen with "a damning new dossier of evidence” proving that Charles had ordered Diana killed. Considering all the trouble Diana was causing for the Royal Family after her split from Charles, you’d imagine the Queen might have welcomed such initiative on the part of her son. But no. The Globe claims that Her Majesty, believing the first piece of paper set in front of her, “ordered Charles cut out of succession to the throne.”
There’s only one teeny tiny problem with this soap opera script: The Queen doesn’t get to choose her successor. This isn’t Saudi Arabia, and Prince William isn’t MBS. The Queen is obliged to adhere to The 1701 Act of Settlement, which requires by law that the monarch’s successor must be their immediate heir – and a Protestant, to boot. As long as he’s alive, that successor will be Charles. Sorry to let the facts get in the way of a good fantasy, but full marks to the Globe for imagination. Read the rest
If Schrodinger’s cat could read he’d feel right at home with this week’s tabloids.Quantum superposition and tabloid supposition seem interchangeable in the way that this week’s tabloid tales might be alive with truth or dead wrong, at one and the same time.
The long-lost Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 has been “Found In Cambodian Jungle!” screams the front page of the National Enquirer, which offers a satellite image of the plane’s wreckage. At the same time, the blurry and indistinct photo appears to show some sort of unidentified objects amid trees, which could equally be the remnants of abandoned housing, or the wreckage of any number of drug-runners’ planes that may have crashed, or planes shot down amid Cambodian hostilities during the Vietnam War.
As a discerning tabloid reader, Schrodinger’s cat might conclude that the wreckage of MH370 had been found after four years, and that its wreckage had also not been found. Schrodinger’s feline might find the same paradox with the Enquirer story that actor Kevin Spacey has been “hiding from the law” for the past year to avoid being hit by any further allegations of sexual harassment or assault – as if Spacey's absence from the public eye would stop police from filing criminal charges or prevent any alleged victims from filing a civil suit.
The fact is that for the past year paparazzi have failed to photograph Spacey, which in the tabloid world means he’s “been in hiding.” But wait! “The Enquirer has found him!” crows the tabloid. Read the rest
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for the short memories of the tabloids, which gleefully forget what they’ve previously written the moment it’s inconvenient for them.
Prince Harry’s wife “Meghan Meets Diana’s Secret Daughter!” screams the cover of this week’s Globe, describing how Sarah, allegedly “conceived in a bizarre fertility test before Prince Charles and Diana wed,” met with the latest addition to the Royal Family on the last day of her recent visit to New Zealand.
Yes, this is the same love child who was murdered by Prince Charles on the Greek isle of Crete in May 2016, according to a report the following month in -- where else? -- the Globe.
Fortunately the demise of Diana’s mystery child has not curtailed her globe-trotting, and she turned up in the antipodes to warn Meghan: “Beware! Charles is a killer!” Though clearly not a very good one, if Diana’s daughter Sarah is still alive two years after Charles definitively killed her.
The Globe explains her earlier demise as “a ruse to save her life!”
Such a shame that the Pulitzer Prize for fiction has already been awarded this year.
George Clooney’s wife of four years “Amal Takes The Twins!” proclaims the National Enquirer cover, reporting that the couple’s "$520 million divorce explodes!” The Globe goes old school with its headline “Bossy Wife Drives Clooney Loony!” and claims “He wants out after she bans sausage, cigars, snoring and cussing.”
Unsurprisingly, neither party has actually filed for divorce, let alone cited “sausages” as grounds for the split. Read the rest
In the Washington Post, Eli Saslow profiles Christopher Blair, a 46-year-old "liberal" hoaxter whose Facebook group, "America’s Last Line of Defense," is full of far-right hoaxes that he creates and then reveals, in order to humiliate the Trumpist "taters" who spread them; and Shirley Chapian, a 76-year-old retiree who believes and repeats all the racist hoaxes Saslow creates and will not disbelieve them, even when Saslow reveals the gag.
Read the rest
Coming back from the dead is a tabloid staple – just ask Elvis, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana, all still alive and well, hiding in plain sight, according to the rags. But this week sees the most exciting return from beyond the grave: tabloid title The Sun reappears on American newsstands with such sensational tales as UFOs invading the Arctic, a baby born with its grandfather’s forearm tattoo, and a brown bear that can read books “at third-grade level.”
Part of American Media Inc’s tabloid stable along with the National Enquirer and the Globe, The Sun, last published in 2012, shuttered as the public’s appetite for outrageously improbable “news" faded. Perhaps we can credit President Donald Trump’s passion for fake news with the revival of The Sun, which breathlessly tells us that John the Baptist’s sandals have been found, curing blindness – and baldness!
And of course, there’s the inevitable story that’s crazy-but-true: “Worms from Hell!” have been discovered two miles beneath the earth’s surface. Okay, so they were discovered by scientists in 2011 living in cracks between the earth’s crust (the worms living in the cracks, not the scientists), but for tabloids that often recount decades-old yarns, this counts as fresh news.
The Sun, which beneath its title carries the words “God Bless America,” devotes its cover to the exclusive: “U.S. Scientists Transplant Monkey Head – And It Can Be Done on Humans Now.” Yes, it’s another ancient story: American neurosurgeon Robert J. White transplanted heads on four monkeys back in 1970. Read the rest
Without the slightest sense of irony or self-awareness, the National Enquirer gives away the secret to its journalistic excellence in this week’s remarkable story under the headline: “How To Lie & Get Away With It.”
In an article that could easily have been penned by Enquirer fan Donald Trump, the rag proclaims: “Face it – honesty isn’t always the best policy!”
Its advice, borne out by decades of experience:
• "Sprinkle in some truth” to make lies “more plausible.”
• “Keep it simple” without too many facts to complicate matters.
• “Play to your audience” by capitalizing on their knowledge and fears.
• “Don’t show remorse or guilt.”
• “Be prepared” and plan your lie in advance, not on the fly.
Following these sterling precepts, the Enquirer tells us that “Evil ISIS Plots Kidnap Horror” for pregnant Duchess of Sussex Meghan, with terrorist plans to cut her “unborn child from her womb!” The “plot” is nothing more than online postings on “terrorist chat forums” – presumably where terrorists gather online to discuss their favorite Star Trek episodes and debate which comic book heroes deserve their own movies. These chat forums allegedly include a photo of Meghan "with a blood red ‘X’ over her stomach.” And we all know what a red “X” means: Cut the baby out! What else could it possibly mean?
The Enquirer piles on to the young Royals with its story “Harry & Meghan Cheat Death in Sabotaged Jet!” Their private jet was struck by lightning last week, and the rag claims: “Terrorists planted device to attract lightning bolts & blow up plane.” An unnamed “highly placed British counterterrorism expert” tells the Enquirer that the jet would never have been hit without being sabotaged – but this is errant nonsense. Read the rest