Killer bug threatens life on Earth, why Comey had to go, and other weighty issues in this weeks tabs

It's another week of weighty issues in the tabloids, with heavy politics and underweight celebrities hogging the headlines.

"Bag of bones Angelina Jolie" is an anorexic 91 pounds and must "rehab or die!" proclaims the 'Globe,' only three weeks after stablemate the 'National Enquirer' reported that the actress "looks healthier than she has in months" and had "regained an estimated 53 pounds."

The 'Globe' squad of fun-fair midway-trained "Guess Your Weight" experts also report "99-lb Lisa Marie Presley Dying!" as "friends fear she's killing herself with drugs." Because in Hollywood friends live in constant fear for their celebrity pals.

Singer Tony Bennett "has 5 weeks to live . . . friends fear," reports the 'Globe.' Evidently he's too weak to snap his fingers as he sings, which "pals fear" means the end is near. Or maybe at 90 the crooner simply has a touch of arthritis?

Another singer, Jessica Simpson, has gained a little weight, and her modest stomach paunch prompts the 'Enquirer' to report that she is "pregnant to save marriage!" Or maybe she's just eaten too many Burger King Double Whoppers? The magazine even found a New York doctor to say that based on a couple of photos "she certainly looks at least three months along" - a time at which most women are barely showing.

Heavyweight politics dominates the 'Enquirer,' which devotes two pages to former FBI director James Comey: "A Victim - Or A Villain?" Former White House advisor Dick Morris answers that question for the 'Enquirer,' in his column: "Why Prez Had to Fire FBI Boss." The reason? Read the rest

Fox retracts hoax story about Seth Rich murder

While the world was agog at the news that President Trump had leaked sensitive, classified information to a Russian diplomat, the rightosphere was going bonkers over an old, dumb conspiracy theory that Seth Rich, a young DNC staffer who was murdered in DC, had been assassinated in retaliation for leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks. Read the rest

Trump saves America, Hillary caught fleeing, and drugs, sex and lies at Fox News, in this week’s tabloids

It's yet another fun-filled, fact-challenged week in the tabloids.

Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin have been "caught fleeing the country," FBI files expose Debbie Reynolds' "secret gay life," and singer Cher needs a liver transplant "in order to cheat death!" according to the 'Globe.'

"The shocking photo proof!" screams the Globe cover, beside a snap of Hillary and her aide descending an aircraft stairway, reportedly about to flee to Bahrain amid the Benghazi scandal.

But the photo was actually taken at Van Nuys airport, California, on August 22, 2016, as the duo arrived in Los Angeles to attend a taping of 'Jimmy Kimmel Live.' I'm pretty sure that if you're flying from Washington, D.C. that Bahrain is in the opposite direction.

More bizarre, the 'Globe' ran this same story back in February, claiming that Hillary was caught trying to flee America to avoid indictment by a grand jury. But this week's cover now has photographic "proof" - of Hillary landing in Van Nuys. Great investigative work, guys.

Debbie Reynolds' "secret gay life" amounts to one alleged entry in her FBI files, reportedly claiming that an unnamed informant told investigators that her ex-husband Eddie Fisher was homosexual, and Reynolds "engaged in both normal and homosexual relations." What more proof could one ask? Perhaps a photo of Reynolds arriving at Van Nuys airport might clinch the deal?

And does Cher need a liver transplant? The tabloids love to find a "top doctor" who has not treated the stars to offer a diagnosis based on photos, but the 'Globe' now has its new toy: the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology, which claims it can diagnose ailments by analyzing a patient's voice. Read the rest

Obama is gay, Hillary will die in prison, and real-life hobbits discovered, in this week's tabloids

Two weeks after the 'National Enquirer' promised "World War 3 is coming!" the president's favorite media mouthpiece announces: "Trump's Plan For World Peace!" As plans go, it's a doozy.

Read the rest

Scaly giants in California, White House ghosts, and Kim Kardashian's exploding butt, in this week's tabloids

Kim Kardashian's bubble butt is going to explode, Aretha Franklin is "too fat to live," Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner is "days from death," and Kirstie Alley "sacrifices infant to cult," according to this week's 'National Enquirer.'

Who needs facts when we have the tabloids? Though it's hard to fault the 'Enquirer' cover branding former Fox TV's Bill O'Reilly a "liar & perv."

But let's consider the facts, or lack of them . . .

Allie is a Scientologist, but carrying her baby grandson to a street barbecue in Clearwater, Florida, does not constitute sacrificing him, nor serving him up at a feast.

Let's start the clock on Hefner's death watch - remember, we're still waiting for Nick Nolte to pop his clogs after the 'Globe' gave him "four weeks to live" almost a year ago. Is Kardashian's derriere "going to burst" as the 'Enquirer' claims? She hasn't been studied by surgeons, but a medical analysis expert who claims to diagnose disease by listening to a patient's voice, has concluded that the reality TV star "is battling an incurable disease - that could lead to her lower limbs exploding in a bloated mass of fat."

And speaking of a bloated mass of fat, is it really news that ill O'Reilly is a "liar and perv"? After millions in payouts to sexual harassment accusers, that point seems moot.

Soul queen Aretha has reportedly lost 102 pounds, "but it's not enough!" laments the caring, compassionate 'Enquirer,' which claims she must lose more weight "if she wanted to survive." (Why the past tense, I wonder? Read the rest

Ex-Fox News host: when I filed a sexual harassment claim against Ailes, the company hacked and stalked me

In a federal complaint against Fox News, former Outnumbered host Andrea Tantaros claims that after she filed a sexual harassment claim against the former CEO Roger Ailes, Fox News contracted with a psyops team to set up a "black room" to run a hate campaign that targeted her by cyberstalking her, implanting malware on her computer, and libeling her on "fake news" sites. Read the rest

Aliens destroyed life on Mars, now Trump’s poised to do the same to Earth, in this week’s tabloids

It's good to see this week's tabloids getting back to the really important news.

"Aliens Nuked All Life Off Of Mars!" proclaims the 'National Examiner,' which also brings us the more earth-bound revelation that disgraced President Richard Nixon, while happy to meet with Elvis Presley, "ordered hits on Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison."

It's important news like this that distracts us from the 'National Enquirer' cover this week, which with characteristic restraint screams: "World War 3 Is Coming!" But fear not - the 'Enquirer' brings us a "step-by-step" guide to "How Trump will crush our eight enemies!" Eight, indeed. No slouch, our Commander in Chief will "launch a coordinated campaign across five continents that will wipe out America's enemies in one fell swoop!" And those are the best kind of swoops.

It's the sort of bombast we've come to expect from North Korea, but it's troubling to find such bellicosity (yet again) in the pages of a publication that boasts better connections to the White House than 'The New York Times.' Our enemies? North Korea and ISIS, naturally. Syria will be nuked - that'll put Trump in the history books, if there are any that survive the ensuing global conflagration.

But then the 'Enquirer' battle plans get a little hazy. Iran will be hit by severe sanctions. U.S. troops will maneuver along the border with Russia to prevent their intervention. Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia will be targeted. ISIS and al-Qaeda cells in Spain, France, Germany and Italy will be hit. Read the rest

Jimmy "Wikipedia" Wales just launched an anti-fake-news wiki: Wikitribune

Wikitribune (strapline: "Evidence-based journalism") is a newly launched project from Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, conceived of as a crowd-edited, crowd-funded tonic against fake news. Read the rest

Russian sex toys, flying dinosaurs, and Barbara Bush’s missing toes, in this week’s tabloids

Reese Witherspoon doesn't like making love on camera, Julia Roberts is dreaming of an affair in Africa, Barbara Bush only has eight toes, and George Clooney is spending $1.3 million for the delivery of his coming twins.

Yes, it's getting harder to sort fact from fiction in this week's tabloids, where reality is an inconvenient truth easily avoided.

Barry Manilow is caught in a "gay bigamy scandal!" screams the 'National Enquirer,' which claims that the singer's partner Garry Keif had a secret wife. But that wife died in 2005, 11 years before Keif tied the knot with Manilow. So there was no bigamy. Just a widower getting married, with no scandal.

Ellen DeGeneres and partner Portia de Rossi allegedly had a "screeching public fight" that was "caught on camera," the 'Enquirer' claims. But its photo just shows the two women sitting in a car, looking perfectly calm and unflustered. What more proof could you want?

Russian Embassy staff "play with sex toys!" claims another 'Enquirer' headline, after intrepid reporters dug through a trash can outside the Russian consulate in New York. But as a host of discarded passport applications found in the trash show, the garbage was discarded by visitors to the consulate and anyone walking along the street, so the Kegel balls the reporters claim to have found, "meant to strengthen a woman's vaginal walls and heighten sexual experiences," could have been dumped there by anyone.

The 'Globe' proclaims it has uncovered a "Chuck Berry Autopsy Bombshell" and "cover-up" revealing that the singer "died of AIDS." But Chuck Berry was buried without an autopsy, you say. Read the rest

Hillary Clinton’s a Russian spy, Jennifer Aniston’s sex swap shame, and own your own alien - in this week’s tabloids

If the supermarket tabloids truly have an inside track to Donald Trump's thoughts, should we be petrified by this week's tabloid promise that President Trump is poised to launch World War III?

"Trump Declares War on Dictators!" screams the 'National Enquirer' cover, which also pictures the leaders of Russia, Syria and North Korea beneath the headline: "Dead Men Walking," alongside another bellicose headline: "Here We Come!"

Inside, the 'Enquirer' reveals that "President Donald Trump has green-lighted a top-secret Pentagon plan to rid the Earth of ALL military madmen," promising that "the new administration will restore peace and wipe out the new axis of evil."

Of course, that peace comes after more than a little bloodshed.

Declaring that the world is on a "war footing," the 'Enquirer' promises that Trump's so-called Operation Clean Sweep "involves coordinated attacks on three continents."

So America plans to launch attacks on three sovereign nations, according to the publication that claims to have a direct line to Trump, who wrote several articles for the magazine during the election campaign, and who is friends with 'Enquirer' chief executive David Pecker. Why would that be in the least bit disturbing?

This comes as stable-mate the 'Globe' reports that "Crooked Hillary Is Putin's Spy," claiming that the erstwhile Democratic presidential hopeful was "bought and paid for by Kremlin blood money laundered through her sham foundation and a company with ties to her campaign manager!" Hillary Clinton and husband Bill allegedly "got mega-millions for engineering the sale of 20 per cent of America's uranium reserves to Russia - AND funneling key U.S. Read the rest

Florida skunk ape is real and "gives out a horrifying odor": National Examiner

You have to admire the insight, investigative prowess and sheer imagination of the tabloids, which this week are brimming with information that few people on earth could possibly know.

It has been widely reported that a Secret Service agent’s laptop was stolen from her car, containing blueprints of President Trump’s homes. But only the ‘National Enquirer’ has the inside scoop to reveal the culprit behind the theft: "Terrorists steal laptop.”

It’s doubtless the same network of impeccable inside sources that allows the ‘Globe’ to definitively report that a “booze-free” Ben Affleck “packs on 48 lbs,” presumably because they have bugged his bathroom scales and know he hasn’t gained 47 lbs or 49 lbs - it’s exactly 48 lbs. That’s how accurate their information is.

The ‘Globe’ promises veteran actor Michael Caine disclosing: “My Cancer Hell!” And what hell it is! Beneath the headline “Michael Caine, 84, Wrestling Death!” the British star confesses that he tries to eat healthily so that he never gets cancer. Way to wrestle, Michael. “I know my days are numbered,” he says. “I’ll probably drop dead.” And that’s a quote that everyone alive could safely say without fear of contradiction. Great reporting.

“Starsky & Hutch Deathbed Reunion!” screams the ‘Globe’ cover, though the photos of Paul Michael Glaser pushing his former TV co-star David Soul in a wheelchair suggests otherwise. If Glaser was pushing Soul in a Sealy Posturepedic down the street I’d buy the “deathbed reunion,” but last time I checked the fact of being in a wheelchair didn’t mean you had hours left to live. Read the rest

How Big Tobacco invented Donald Trump and Brexit (and what to do about it)

Economist Tim Harford (previously) traces the history of denialism and "fake news" back to Big Tobacco's cancer denial playbook, which invented the tactics used by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns to ride to victory -- a playbook that dismisses individual harms as "anaecdotal" and wide-ranging evidence as "statistical," and works in concert with peoples' biases (smokers don't want cigarettes to cause cancer, Brexiteers want the UK to be viable without the EU, Trump supporters want simple, cruel policies to punish others and help them) to make emprically wrong things feel right. Read the rest

National Enquirer succeeds where FBI and White House have failed, finding “Proof Obama Wiretapped Trump!"

Just when it seemed that the White House was backing away from Trump's "wiretap" allegations, when evidence seemed non-existent, and spin doctors desperately claimed that Trump simply meant he was under electronic surveillance or being spied on by cameras secreted in microwave ovens, the 'Enquirer' uncovers a farrago of "lies, leaks and illegal bugging."

What shocking new evidence does the 'Enquirer' expose? It explains that the National Security Agency's "Stellar Wind" data mining program, revealed in 2008 and detailed by Edward Snowden in 2013, "taps every American citizen's calls on a daily basis." Therefore Trump's calls were wiretapped. QED.

But not so fast - there's a huge difference between a program that scans massive amounts of data for patterns and irregularities, and an order to eavesdrop on a presidential candidate's private line. A FISA court's approved collection of metadata was halted in 2011 - long before Trump announced his candidacy - though massive American data collection continues. And the government has long argued that it collected phone metadata - toll records and phone numbers, rather than content - which again, is hardly "wire-tapping."

The 'Globe' also gets political with its cover story "FBI Find Clinton Secret Payoff Files!" Investigators seized incriminating financial documents during a grand jury-ordered search of the Clinton's homes in upstate New York and Washington, D.C., claims the 'Globe.' But there is no evidence that such a grand jury search warrant was ever issued, or that the Clinton homes were searched. The alleged "smoking gun" documents, which allegedly name "205 Wall Street execs, foreign leaders and Hollywood fat cats caught up in a $216 million pay-for-play scam" may simply not exist. Read the rest

Punctuation inflation has infected the tabloids!

Extraordinary!!!

Exclamation points have over-run the tabloids like Macaques monkeys swarming the streets of New Delhi - and with much the same effect.

Every story on the cover of the 'Globe' merits its own angry exclamation point: "Hillary Caught Taking Bribes!" "Barack okayed the shady deal!" "Scandal: Her ties to Russia exposed!" "Now they'll both go to jail!" "Priscilla Elopes With Tom!" "Now they're raising Lisa Marie's twins, 8!" "Travolta secret sex swap!"

The 'National Enquirer' is no better: "Prez Trump Tell-All: How I'm Cleaning Up Obama's Mess!" "Making Medicine Cheap Again!" "25 Million New High Paying Jobs!" "$3 Trillion Economic Jump-Start!" "Jackson's Diary Proves He Was Murdered!" "Daughter Paris Is Right!" So many exclamation points! It's exhausting!

Exclamation marks are intended to emphasize something of major interest, but punctuation inflation has infected the tabloids, so that every story is screaming for attention, and as a result nothing seems shocking any more.

"Judy Garland Was Murdered!" screams the cover to the 'National Examiner.' Yawn. "Tom Selleck Secret Medical Crisis!" Okay - he reportedly has arthritis. Shocking. And the exclamation points keep coming: "Warren Beatty Turns 80! Inside His Amazing Life!" "Judge Judy's $200 million Garage Sale!" "Cruise Ship Murders!"

Virtually every story in this week's 'Enquirer' is cursed with an exclamation point, with only a handful of notable exceptions: the "Ask The Vet" column offering pet advice, the so-dubious-we-don't-believe-it-for-a-minute headline about country singer Blake Shelton: "Blake Back On The Bottle?" and the photo of Caroline Kennedy in a swimsuit under the headline: "Camelot Comes to the Caribbean," for which I assume a sub-editor will be fired for failing to add the obligatory exclamation point. Read the rest

Newspaper hoax about the gruesome results of a mass breakout at the Central Park Zoo

A new episode of Nate DiMeo's Memory Palace podcast is out and it's a good one. It's about a newspaper hoax about the gruesome results of a mass breakout at the Central Park Zoo, which Nate "turns into a comment on Fake News/Pizza Gate/etc by way of an Edward Gorey story." Nate is a terrific storyteller, and I highly recommend every episode of the Memory Palace. Read the rest

Tabloid tale of man crushed by porn collection was fake

Gareth Davies' viral yarn about a Japanese man crushed to death by his porn collection has been proven false. Gizmodo's Matt Novak reports that it's about time Americans—and especially American media—realized that a lot of what the Daily Mail publishes is fabricated.

But almost nothing about that headline is correct. The Daily Mail seems to have taken a sad story of a man’s death in Japan and added a few lies to make it more sensational. And from there it went viral, getting picked up by the likes of The Mirror, The Toronto Sun, CBS Philly, and Sky News Australia, among a host of others.

So what really happened? Recently a Japanese man was found dead in his apartment. The man lived alone and had been dead for a month before he was discovered. The coroner ruled that he’d died of a heart attack. How do we know the real story? It was reported in Nikkan Spa in Japan on February 28, 2017. The Daily Mail story was published on March 3, 2017.

Read the rest

Breitbart was a unique driver of hyper-partisan, trumpist news that shifted the 2016 election

A team of esteemed scholars including Yochai "Wealth of Networks" Benkler and Ethan Zuckerman (co-founder of Global Voices) analyzed 1.25 million media stories published between April 1, 2015 and election day, finding "a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world." Read the rest

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