Noah’s Ark found, a Palace coup, and a Hollywood poker scam, in this week’s dubious tabloids

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

Quantum mechanics and Kevin Spacey, JFK’s five assassins, and proof of reincarnation, in this week’s dubious tabloids

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

Adam and Eve were aliens, soul transplants, and an exploding squirrel in this week’s dubious tabloids

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

Portrait of a fake news troll and the racist retiree who believes everything he writes

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

UFOs invade Arctic, John the Baptist’s sandals, and worms from hell, in this week’s dubious tabloids

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

Michael Jackson is alive, Elvis is haunting Wayne Newton, and Sean Hannity’s secrets are revealed, in this week’s dubious tabloids

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

Brad Pitt tells all, Prince Charles divorces, and JonBenet Ramsey’s murder solved, in this week’s fact-challenged tabloids

It would be an exaggeration to say that every story in this week’s tawdry tabloids is a fabrication. It just feels that way. And "exaggeration" would be the polite way to describe many of this week’s tabloid offerings.

Murdered infant pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey’s brother “Burke Solves JonBenet Case!” screams the National Enquirer cover. No, he doesn’t. He simply says, for the umpteenth time, that it wasn’t him.

“Camilla Divorces Charles on his 70th Birthday!” proclaims the Globe front page. No, she hasn’t. Charles’ wife reportedly screamed that she will “never forgive” the Royal heir for “throwing her in psycho ward.” Since she was never put in a psych ward in the first place, perhaps her inability to forgive is understandable.

Brad Pitt’s “Divorce Tell-All!” under the front page headline “Exclusive Interview” might be more plausible if they even pretended to have spoken with Pitt. Can you have a “tell-all” when you don’t speak to the man in question? Instead, the Enquirer claims to have interviewed a “family friend” who offers unsubstantiated speculation that Pitt would have been happier staying with first wife Jennifer Aniston because she was “normal” and “cute.” Normal like any other actress earning $1 million a week when they wed? Can’t argue with that.

The Globe adds to Pitt’s pity party by reporting: “Brad Dumps Jen Again!” Only one minor quibble: Pitt and Aniston have not been dating again, so dumping her again is just a tabloid dream.

Royal mom-to-be Meghan Markle AKA the Duchess of Sussex dominates the covers of both People and Us magazines, with predictably gushing over-excitement at her pregnancy announcement. Read the rest

Royal feud, Cosby’s hell, Aniston trapped, and alternate universes, in this week’s dubious tabloids

There is no better proof of superstring theory positing up to 26 dimensions than this week’s tabloids, in which the headlines and the stories beneath them clearly live in entirely different universes. The British Royals fall headlong into this space-time discontinuum, led by Britain’s Prince Harry in the National Enquirer under the headline: "Harry Trapped in Hooker & Drug Scandal!”

How exactly is Harry trapped with drugs and prostitutes? He isn’t, at least not in any dimension known to humanity. His father-in-law, Thomas Markle Sr, aged 74, reportedly tells the Enquirer that in the 1970s and ‘80s he occasionally sampled cocaine – an admission he first made months ago – and that while in the Philippines, “I never paid for sex.” No mention of prostitutes, and no “hooker scandal.”

How do Markle’s drug admission and hooker denial “trap” Harry? The Enquirer claims that Markle’s “repugnant antics could end his gorgeous daughter’s fairytale marriage to Prince Harry!” That’s the sort of stretch you expect to see when being pulled apart at a molecular level after passing a singularity and falling into a black hole, which may well be where this week’s tabloids belong.

“Royal Blood Feud Explodes!” claims the Globe, with its cover headline: “Royals at War! Kate & Meghan’s Vicious Catfight With Fergie’s Girls!” Have the Royal women been pulling each others' hair and scratching their eyes out? Far worse, according to the Globe.

Princess Eugenie (Prince Andrew’s daughter by ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, for those who don’t religiously follow every episode of the Royal soap opera) invited more guests to her wedding on October 12 than Meghan Markle did at the same venue – supposedly an insult designed to “upstage” Duchess Meghan. Read the rest

Alien attack imminent, Buckingham Palace is a drug den, and the Queen is a criminal mastermind, in this week’s fact-challenged tabloids.

You know we’re in for a fun week with the tabloids when the National Enquirer cover on “America’s Worst Sex Abuse Churches,” along with its handy guide – “Is Your Priest a Pervert?” – is topped by the banner: “Flip Over The Cover For 5 More Exclusives!” You turn the page with eager anticipation, and find . . . an ad for a walk-in bathtub. Perhaps the deception is designed to make you feel dirty, boosting sales for the tub?

It’s a bait-and-switch tactic that seems to embody this week’s tabloid offerings.

“Dying Perv Cosby Begs for New Kidney!” proclaims an Enquirer story about newly incarcerated sex offender Bill Cosby. Wouldn’t you think his defense attorneys might have mentioned this at his sentencing? Especially since his daughter Ensa died at 44 from renal disease in February. An unnamed source claims that Cosby refuses to have kidney transplant surgery at the hospital because “he’s convinced the hospital staff will sedate him, steal his organs and then sell them to settle up his unpaid legal bills.” Right. Because transplant surgeons are begging for organs from 81-year-old donors, and routinely offer their services to lawyers to recover debts.

The British Royal Family continues to be an easy tabloid target, famed for its reluctance to sue for libel. "Queen Destroys Diana Murder Evidence – To Prevent Charles’ Arrest,” reports the National Examiner. That explains everything! Criminal mastermind Elizabeth “concocted a massive cover-up” after “conniving love rat” Charles “confessed to masterminding the murder of his ex-wife.” "She ordered MI6 agents to impound Diana’s death car, destroy damning tissue samples and do everything to hide the truth.” Right. Read the rest

Why the Queen is up in Meghan’s uterus, and how to tell you’ll be dead in 23 hours, in this week’s dubious tabloids

With the tabloids freed from their role as an agitprop mouthpiece for President Trump, they have gleefully returned to their long-time mission of fantasizing about Britain’s biggest soap opera stars: The Royal Family.

“Camilla Locked in Psycho Ward!” screams the Globe cover, reporting that Prince Charles’ wife physically attacked his sister Princess Anne at a recent family gathering, concluding: “Camilla’s Off Her Rocker!”

“Camilla is now in therapy and was released after a 72-hour hold,” an unnamed “royal courtier” allegedly told the Globe. It’s yet another world exclusive that failed to be reported by the entire Royal press corps – a group not known for its restraint or compassion. But why would Camilla be placed under a 72-hour psychiatric hold – a 5150 – when that is an American medical response? A “royal courtier” should know that in Britain patients are “sectioned” for up to 28 days, while a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation – s.5(2) in the UK - is only applied to patients already being treated in a medical ward, which Camilla clearly was not.

“Queen Puts Meghan Through Sex Test!” yells a National Enquirer headline. No, Her Majesty hasn’t reclaimed the ancient "droit de seigneur," the Medieval “right” of a feudal Lord to sleep first with any vassal's new bride – a practice more common in Europe than England. Rather, the Enquirer claims that the Queen demanded that Prince Harry’s bride undergo an ob-gyn test “to guarantee Royal babies.” This comes months after the Enquirer reported that Meghan underwent pre-wedding fertility screening – with no mention of the Queen’s involvement in her uterus. Read the rest

Hollywood’s Most Hated Man, The Queen’s Assassins, and Meg Ryan Walks AND Talks, in this week’s dubious tabloids

It must be Opposite Week in the tabloids.

“JonBenet Ransom Note Reveals Killer!” screams the National Enquirer cover. No, it doesn’t.

“Rachel Ray: I Quit” proclaims another Enquirer headline. No, she hasn't.

“Queen Bans Meghan From Dad’s Funeral,” “Starsky & Hutch Deathbed Reunion,” “Mickey Mouse Sex Clubs!” No, no, and no.

“Queen Survives Assassin Attack!” yells the Globe cover. Never happened.

“Tom Cruise: Most Hated Man in Hollywood,” runs a two-page character assassination in the Globe.

Not as long as his films continue earning hundreds of millions, and as long as Harvey Weinstein is around.

These stories fly in the face of facts with the bravado normally only associated with White House press briefings. JonBenet Ramsey’s ransom note left by her alleged killer reveals a “hidden code and secret message”? Scientifically dubious analysis of the ink flow and pen pressure in the note no more indicate who the killer was than they disclose a coded message. And one wonders why the Enquirer believes this a “breakthrough” when it has spent the past year telling readers that “now-deceased psycho drifter Glenn Meyer” was the infant pageant queen’s killer.

Has TV chef Rachel Ray quit? You be the judge: her show is still on the air.

Did Queen Elizabeth II ban grand-daughter-in-law Meghan Markle from her father Thomas’s funeral? That seems a tad premature, since the 74-year-old is still alive and kicking. He’s "morbidly obese,” slams the Enquirer, ignoring Thomas Markle’s 40-pound weight loss since his heart surgery in May. Read the rest

Not in our name: Why European creators must oppose the EU's proposal to limit linking and censor the internet

The European Copyright Directive vote is in three days and it will be a doozy: what was once a largely uncontroversial grab bag of fixes to copyright is now a political firestorm, thanks to the actions of Axel Voss, the German MEP who changed the Directive at the last minute, sneaking in two widely rejected proposals on the same day the GDPR came into effect, forming a perfect distraction (you can contact your MEP about these at Save Your Internet). Read the rest

Tabloids turn on Trump, Brad and Jen reunite, and Natalie Wood’s death mystery solved, in this week’s dubious tabloids

The tabloid worm has turned. After three years of deifying Donald Trump and lauding his every utterance, there is no clearer indication of the tabloids turning against Trump than the Globe magazine’s cover tribute to “American hero” John McCain.

Trump famously said in 2015 that the Arizona senator was “not a war hero,” and the Globe dutifully obliged with the headline: “Trump Is Right: McCain is NOT a War Hero.” They followed up with the story of a dying McCain “sending tender goodbyes to his secret love” actress Connie Stevens.

But since Globe and National Enquirer chief David Pecker’s recent agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the Trump investigation, the tabloids are no longer slavishly following the ranter-in-chief’s party line.

“John McCain FAREWELL!” screams the Globe cover, touting “his inspiring final words” (“Always believe in the promise and greatness of America”) and his “surprising last regret” (“He lost his bid to become president” – hardly a surprising regret, you’d think).

It’s a clear slap in the face to the president, and possibly a harbinger of things to come from the tabloids that are believed to have a secret trove of damaging Trump stories locked away in their vaults. Free from cult-like devotion to Trump’s warped world vision, the tabloids are returning to their own warped version of reality.

And what could be more important than the loving reunion of former husband and wife Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, both finally free of their subsequent spouses? “Brad & Jen’s Romantic Italian Dinner Date!” screams the Enquirer headline over an “Enquirer Exclusive” photo of the couple sharing a cozy dinner: Pitt in a black peaked cap, Aniston in large sunglasses. Read the rest

This week’s tabloids: They’re not lies. They’re just Trumpian thinking

This week’s tabloids offer a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of their greatest fan: Donald Trump. The president, who has gone on the record saying that the National Enquirer deserves a Pulitzer Prize, and who is bffs with tabloid publisher David Pecker, can politely be said to view events in a different way than the rest of the world perceives them. So it’s instructive to see this week’s tabloids offer a view of events that offer a unique perspective that some might say, in the manner of Donald Trump, bears little relation to reality as the rest of us understand it.

“Tom Gets Suri!” screams the cover of the National Enquirer, suggesting that Tom Cruise has won a battle with ex-wife Katie Holmes for custody of their daughter. But nothing has changed in their custody agreement. Cruise was long ago awarded ten days a month with his daughter. He simply hasn’t taken advantage of using all ten days monthly in the past. Now he’s seeking to have his daughter for the agreed ten days monthly, it’s no shock to anyone (except perhaps to Suri), and Cruise no more “Gets Suri” than before.

Hollywood legend Robert Wagner “Loots Natalie’s Grave!” claims another Enquirer cover headline about the actor’s late wife Natalie Wood. “Wagner Vandalizes Natalie’s Grave” yells the headline above the story. The story is true, if by “Vandalizes Natalie’s Grave” you mean Wagner has asked the cemetery to remove decomposing flowers left by fans after a day on her grave. Read the rest

Facebook news chief to media: ‘Work with Facebook or die’

The Australian reports that Facebook media relations chief Campbell Brown privately disclosed that Mark Zuckerberg is indifferent to publishers and offers the news media a simple choice: "Work with Facebook or die."

A senior Facebook executive has privately admitted Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about publishers and warned that if they did not work with the social media giant, “I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a ­hospice”.

That's a strange thought, isn't it? Right down to how an attempt at intimidation is undermined its own awkward spitefulness.

Still, she (invoking he), is effectively threatening to destroy news publishers unless they comply with Facebook's vision for their future. So everyone has work to do.

Brown was hired last year after to help Facebook "smooth over its strained ties to the news media."

But Facebook executives said they were hiring Ms. Brown for her understanding of the news industry as a onetime White House correspondent, co-anchor of “Weekend Today” and primary substitute anchor of “Nightly News” at NBC News, and prime-time anchor on CNN, which she left in 2010.

Some commentators noted Ms. Brown’s ties to the Republican donor Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Education. Ms. DeVos’s family foundation funds The 74, an education-focused journalism site co-founded and led by Ms. Brown.

Hiring a DeVos crony to deal with fake news and media relations quickly became the Facebook Executives Puzzled By Human Emotion trainwreck it promised to be: Brown was last in the news threatening to sue The Guardian for breaking the Cambridge Analytica story. Read the rest

Queen collapses, Stacy Peterson’s body found, Jennifer Aniston’s post-divorce hook-ups, and other news that never happened, in this week’s fact-challenged tabloids.

It’s the summer silly season, and this week’s dubious tabloids are more fact-free than ever.

“Drew Peterson’s Wife’s Body Found!” screams the cover of the National Enquirer.

No, it wasn’t. A sonar scan has supposedly spotted a body-shaped object in an Illinois canal. After 11 years, “killer cop” Peterson’s missing wife Stacy’s corpse would most likely have suffered extensive decomposition. It could be anyone who recently fell into the canal, but is more likely an abandoned store mannequin, which is why authorities haven’t dredged it up yet.

Jennifer Aniston is having secret “sleepovers” with estranged husband Justin Theroux, claims the Enquirer, noting several of his cars parked in her garage. How does that work? Every time Theroux comes over for some break-up sex he brings three cars with him? Or could it be he’s just parking them at her home because she has the garage space?

"Natalie Wood Death Yacht Ransacked,” reports the Enquirer, citing “multiple sources” who claim that Robert Wagner “is behind it,” deliberately “destroying critical evidence.” That only makes sense if Wagner believes that the boat's lanterns, a ladder and bilge pump somehow miraculously hold incriminating evidence 36 years after Wood’s death on the yacht she was aboard before her drowning death in 1981. Or could it perhaps just be vandals and thieves stripping the old yacht Splendour?

And when the Enquirer reports that Justin Bieber is planning an all-nude wedding to his fiancé, well, it feels as if they’ve just decided the weather’s too good to be stuck in the office and are making it up so they can flee their desks and rush out to the beach. Read the rest

YouTube plans to spend $25 million fighting 'fake news.' Here's how.

YouTube just unveiled a plan to combat phony conspiracy videos intended to manipulate or defraud viewers. Read the rest

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