Flying boldly in the face of reality takes a mix of bravura and sociopathy, but this week’s tabloids manage the feat with élan.
#MeToo activist and Anthony Bordain’s long-time girlfriend Asia Argento is photographed in Rome with a “much-younger man” with “no Bordain in sight,” and the National Enquirer headline asks: “Where’s Anthony?!” Sadly, committing suicide in France, where everyone but the Enquirer knew he was filming a new TV series. He took his own life last Friday, four days before the Enquirer went to bed, meaning that they chose to run the story rather than re-make the page. Classy.
Prince William “Gives Up Throne!” claims the Globe cover, allegedly to “protect Kate and kids from terrorists.” But the Globe ignores two key facts: 1) His father Prince Charles is next in the line of succession after the Queen’s death, and 2) If William did relinquish his claim to the throne, his rights of succession would go directly to eldest son George, putting the toddler directly in the firing line. How would that be protecting his kids?
It’s errant nonsense, as is the Enquirer report that Tom Cruise’s “miracle” touch as a “high-ranking Operating Thetan VI member of Scientology” has cured Val Kilmer’s throat cancer. Setting aside the question of whether the Top Gun star has been imbued by Scientology with healing powers, Kilmer is a faithful follower of Christian Science, and unlikely to let Cruise intervene in health matters that are in the hands of whatever god he believes in. Read the rest
It’s extraordinary! Exclamation points are flying in this week’s tabloids like they’re going out of style!
Ellen Storms Out! RFK Junior Confronts Dad’s Killer! Taliban Targets Harry & Meghan! Harry’s Secret $90G Hair Transplant! Prince Was A Secret Porn Star! Eminem Turns Back on Dying Dad! It’s exhausting! And that’s just the National Enquirer!
Hillary Can’t Walk Without A Back Brace! screams the Globe. Goldie Leaves Kurt For New Man! My Dad Ryan O’Neal Made Me A Junkie! Meghan’s Plastic Surgery Exposed! Roseanne’s Career Suicide! Eating Fish Won’t Cause Autism! (Who thought it would?)
The celebrity mags can’t help but get in on the act. “Planning For Baby!” shouts the cover of Us mag, wildly speculating about the newlywed Royals. "Roseanne Put Us Through Hell!” tell the axed sit-com’s cast and crew. And there are photographs galore (Hot Pics!) of celebrities: Justin’s Getaway! Zach’s Snack Attack! Keeping Up With Trump! Soaking Up Some Sun! In True Gaga Fashion!
Of course, the stars are just like us: They catch up on reading! They tote luggage! They take selfies! They go for a run! Their love of exclamation points is nothing short of extraordinary!
Is People magazine above the fray? Of course not! Meghan and the Queen! Back Together! New Couple! Angelina Returns to Work – with the Kids! TV foodie Ree Drummond tells “How I Made My Dreams Come True!” Brody Jenner and bride Kaitlynn share their “Wedding in Paradise!” Even their cooking tips are exclamation-worthy: “20 Vegan Add-In Ideas!”
Like the boy who cried wolf, this continual shower of exclamation points dulls readers to the possibility that an occasional story might genuinely be extraordinary. Read the rest
George Osborne was David Cameron's Chancellor of the Exchequer, the architect of UK austerity; he was fired by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister and he did not run for re-election in the disastrous election of 2017, instead taking a job as editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard.
Read the rest
It’s strangely reassuring when the National Examiner tells us that Princess Diana’s ghost was “caught at Harry’s wedding,” and that Nostradamus predicted that the "Hawaii volcanoes signal END OF WORLD!” It’s comforting, because it’s so easy to dismiss the obtuse ramblings of a 16th century seer and a white reflection of light on a wedding photo as errant nonsense unworthy of a second thought. It’s harder to parse the rest of this week’s fact-challenged dubious tabloid offerings, which purport to be truthful while being so very far from it.
“Meghan & Harry Having Twins!” screams the National Enquirer cover story, with a photo of the newly-anointed Duchess of Sussex with a “baby bump” helpfully circled with a giant yellow arrow pointing at her bulging belly. Is it churlish of me to point out that, after a little research, I find that this photo was taken in 2014? Before she met Prince Harry. If, after four years of pregnancy, she is still barely showing, that’s an impressive testament to her dieting will-power and the fortitude of her uterus.
To be fair, the story inside the Enquirer employs a photo of Meghan taken days after her May 19 wedding where her “baby bump” reportedly makes an “early appearance.” Did the 29 million Americans and 18 million Britons who watched the Royal wedding on TV all miss this self-evident pregnancy? Of course not. It’s just the way a dress can hang sometimes when Meghan arcs her back. Yet inspired by the four-year-old “pregnancy” photo, the Enquirer team of psychic reporters concludes that Meghan is having the “first Royal twins in 588 years!” Which makes you wonder why Nostradamus didn’t see this coming. Read the rest
It’s hard to believe that President Donald Trump didn’t personally edit the supermarket tabloids this week.
They ignore facts, present opinions as reality, leap to improbable conclusions, and claim to be doing it all first and best – just like a certain occupant of the Oval Office. Trump and the tabloids, entwined in dewy-eyed mutual admiration – the rags insist he is making America great again; he has said they deserve a Pulitzer prize – are a marriage of minds, as this week’s fact-challenged, reality-flouting, self-serving stories demonstrate.
Let’s begin with the National Enquirer cover story under the screaming headline in giant print: “Hoda Fired!” referring to NBC’s Today show anchor Hoda Kotb, reportedly axed as audience ratings fall. Except you may have seen her on the Today show this morning, because she hasn’t been fired. The cover is a lie, as the story inside retreats to merely say: “Hoda’s "Todays" Are Numbered!” Aren’t everyone’s?
The Enquirer throws logic out the window with another flight of fancy: “Revealed! The radical plan to rehire Matt Lauer!” Sure, the news anchor ousted in November amid sex harassment allegations is returning, just as the #MeToo movement gathers steam? Let’s see.
“Flight 370 Wreckage Found!” yells another Enquirer cover headline. No, the missing Malaysia Airlines flight has not been found after four years. Wing fragments were discovered off the coast of Africa more than 18 months ago, but the plane remains missing.
That doesn’t stop the Enquirer from claiming: “It was Murder!” blaming “deranged and depressed” pilot Capt. Read the rest
The tabloids’ loose relationship with facts grows even more tenuous this week, and sometimes even their fake news is phony.
Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle “Won’t Last 5 Years!” claims “Prince’s Own Aunt” on the cover of the Globe. Except that the “prince’s aunt,” Ann Ukrainetz, is actually a 74-year-old from Escondido, California, who 18 years ago claimed to have found a note from her mother scribbled in the margin of a dusty theatre playbill claiming that Princess Diana’s grandfather, Lord Fermoy, was her real father. It’s hardly DNA evidence, and almost two decades later it’s still just an unsubstantiated claim, but the Globe is happy for Ukrainetz to pontificate.
Yet she actually never says that the Royal marriage “won’t last 5 years.” “Harry & Meghan’s Marriage is D.O.A.!” screams the headline across two pages, but the worst that Ukrainetz can conjure up is that Markle may face Royal “backstabbing” and “issues of race and prejudice.”
Even more dubious is the National Enquirer “world exclusive,” claiming that “Prince Charles drops wedding bombshell – I’m Not Your Real Father, Harry!” It’s a rehash of old discredited allegations that Harry is the love child of his Royal mentor Mark Dyer, but the idea that on the eve of Harry's wedding Charles told him: “I am not your father!” is as risible as the idea that the Enquirer has a “Buckingham Palace insider” who could have a) eavesdropped on such a private conversation and b) would tell the Enquirer while the massed army of the Fleet Street Royal press corps remain unaware. Read the rest
The tabloids can be rattlesnakes – provoke them at your peril.
Newly-minted Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow finds that out this week to his chagrin, as the National Enquirer exposes his alleged “Sex-and-Drugs Shocker!” As this column exclusively revealed two weeks ago, Farrow is secretly investigating America’s supermarket tabloids with a view to exposing “how the sausage is made,” according to a source. In April the Enquirer branded Farrow a “hypocrite” for purportedly “covering for his pervert uncle,” a story I described as “a warning shot across his bow.”
This week the Enquirer comes at Farrow with all cannons blazing. Only last month Farrow came out as gay – a public admission quite possibly driven by the knowledge that the Enquirer was about to out him – and now the magazine claims to have obtained “a chain of intimate text messages” which allegedly reveal that “Ronan got down and dirty with a Brazilian male model – admitting to using cocaine and describing his passion for having sex while high on pot and poppers!”
The rag again brands Farrow “a huge hypocrite,” this time for allegedly “using his position of power and influence to promise a second Brazilian hunk professional favors . . . an echo of the charges he made against slimeball [Harvey] Weinstein in his groundbreaking reporting!”
Setting aside the fact that Farrow’s sexuality is his own business, that he is entitled to hook up with whomsoever he pleases, and that his cocaine confession (if true) is that he tried it only twice “and hated it both times,” the allegation that he offered to help further a potential lover’s writing career by making introductions is far from the same as Weinstein raping and assaulting women and threatening to end their career if they refused to acquiesce. Read the rest
Our hero, YouTube parodist and future Tony award-winner Randy Rainbow, has a new video that tears on former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump (the "Beast")... in song! Brilliant. Read the rest
There are lies, damn lies, and tabloid exclusives.
“FOUND!” screams the cover of this week’s National Enquirer, claiming a “bombshell” scoop about Prince Harry’s bride-to-be, American actress Meghan Markle.
“Man-Eater Meghan’s Secret First Hubby!” the front page raves. “The hush-hush annulment! How she hid past from husband No.2! Poor Harry will be Husband No.3!”
There’s nothing unequivocal about these headlines, nothing suggesting the least bit of doubt, especially with the heavily pixilated photo of the newly discovered ex-husband, with the promise: “His story inside!” You have to plough through almost two pages of hyper-ventilating excitement before you reach the tell-tale sentence near the article’s end: “ . . . if the explosive claim of Meghan’s hidden husband is proved to be true . . .” Wait, what?
The Enquirer claims to have found Markle’s previously unknown first husband, and then admits the story might not be true? So what does Markle’s supposed ex-husband say? “When approached for comment at his home on the East Coast, he became agitated at the prospect of being exposed.” Just the reaction you’d expect from someone who has never met Markle and wonders why he’s been ambushed by a tabloid reporter.
“He later denied the relationship.” Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
The Enquirer has never shied away from identifying subjects in tabloid scandals, and would not hesitate to publish a photograph of the alleged ex-husband – if he existed. Everything in this story points to the Enquirer taking a random internet rumor and running with it, and using a barely-plausible subject's denial as evidence of the ex-husband’s existence. Read the rest
Not all is as it seems in this week’s dubious tabloids, as ulterior motives and hidden agendas mark a couple of the more notable stories.
Why does the National Enquirer attack recent Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Ronan Farrow as a “hypocrite” allegedly “covering for pervert uncle”? Farrow’s uncle John – actress Mia Farrow’s brother – was reportedly jailed for 25 years in 2013 for sex abuse, but the Enquirer makes journalist Ronan its target by claiming “he’s remained silent about his uncle.”
Apart from the fact that this is not the sort of family news anyone would shout from the rooftops, why would the Enquirer choose to attack an otherwise respected journalist?
It’s a pre-emptive strike because Farrow is considering making the supermarket tabloids his next target, exposing the nefarious methods they use to dig their dirt. It’s a warning shot over his bow, and doubtless not the last.
“Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies” is the Enquirer cover story, inside promising “Trump Fixer Tells All!” But the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen doesn’t “tell all,” in fact he doesn’t tell anything to the Enquirer. It’s yet another politically-motivated Trump-fawning feature painting Cohen as the villain and Trump as an innocent bystander, in anticipation of the president cutting all ties with his former mouthpiece.
“Some are questioning Cohen’s role,” the Enquirer reports, “alleging blackmail, threats, hush-money payoffs – and even collusion with Russia!” The only thing the story lacks is a slug at the bottom proclaiming: “Donald Trump Endorses This Message."
“What Comey Didn’t Reveal In His Book!” screams a headline on the cover of the Enquirer, promising fresh revelations about the former FBI chief. Read the rest
Is a seismic shift underway at the Trump-loving supermarket tabloids?
For the past two years American Media Inc’s National Enquirer and Globe magazines have slavishly served as Trump’s attack dogs, unwavering defenders and unofficial mouthpieces for the White House. Trump, good friends with AMI publisher David Pecker, has suggested that the Enquirer deserves a Pulitzer Prize, and AMI returned the love by buying off the president’s alleged mistress and a source claiming a Trump extra-marital pregnancy, and killing their stories in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Which makes this week’s Globe all the more remarkable, as it devotes its cover story to Trump’s alleged mistresses in a story that does not even attempt to challenge their claims, let alone denounce the women as liars and con-jobs, as Trump has previously done.
Trump’s special relationship with AMI suggests that this story has his blessing, and it’s positioned as a slap in the face – and perhaps, as a warning – to his long-suffering First Lady.
“Humiliated Melania!” screams the cover, above the teaser: “Shocking reason she’ll NEVER divorce Trump!”
The answer is so far from shocking, it’s banal: “Trump’s third wife will swallow her pride and endure public humiliation for the sake of their 12-year-old son, Barron.” What’s surprising, however, is the rag’s blithe acceptance of Trump’s long-contested affairs. “Melania wasn’t blindsided by the billionaire politician’s womanizing ways,” claims the Globe, which adds that Trump’s reported affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and a Playboy pinup did “not surprise” Melania. Read the rest
Why bother breaking fresh news when you can refurbish old stories and pass them off as new?
Claiming to expose a “Chappaquiddick autopsy cover-up,” the National Enquirer cover screams: “Ted’s Lover Mary Jo Was Pregnant.” It’s a myth as old as the tragedy 49 years ago, and the Enquirer presents no evidence that Mary Jo Kopechne was even Ted Kennedy’s lover, let alone that she was pregnant. Furthermore, her coroner found no signs of a pregnancy, and there was no autopsy – at the request of her parents.
The Enquirer goes even further into the realm of fantasy, however, suggesting that “Kennedy deliberately drove off bridge to save run for the Presidency.” Because it makes perfect sense for a man who can afford a hit-man and who had aides skilled at dirty tricks to risk his own life driving his car off a bridge.
Not quite as antique, the Enquirer goes back to 1992 to break the news that “Pilot John Travolta cheats death in midair crisis.” It’s billed as an “Enquirer World Exclusive,” which might amuse the Orlando Sentinel in Florida, which first broke this story in 1995. Kudos to the Enquirer for finally telling the story, under the glorious banner: “FIRST TO KNOW.”
The Globe joins in the tabloid stroll down memory lane with its cover story about the heir to Britain’s throne: “Found! Charles’ 4 Secret Love Children!” The story, billed as the result of a “special two-year investigation,” lists four alleged illegitimate children of Prince Charles – two of whom are well known though highly questionable claimants; the other two are apparently new, but their allegations are exceedingly difficult to confirm. Read the rest
“I’m tired of the lies,” says Melania Trump on the cover of this week’s Us magazine, below the headline: “Melania’s Agony.”
“Will she stay in the marriage?” asks the mag, following a week of humiliating revelations from the president’s alleged former mistresses.
It’s a fair question, but when you read the four-page article, you realize that there isn’t a single quote from Melania in the piece. Not even: “I’m tired of the lies.” If she is indeed “tired of the lies” (and who wouldn’t be in her position?) she may be even more weary of seeing fictional quotes attributed to her on the cover of magazines that claim to be a rung above the supermarket tabloids.
Us magazine’s insights into the Trump marriage come from a body language expert who interprets such signals as Melania descending from Air Force One in Florida on March 23 ahead of her husband. The message is clear, says the expert: “She made the decision that I’m not going to be last, and my son is not going to be last.” Or perhaps she was just desperate to get to a bathroom, or Trump asked her to go first, or she was helping son Barron down the stairway, or was feeling air-sick and wanted to get off the plane . . . there are a hundred reasons why she may have deplaned first.
Just because any sane woman would be miserable if married to Donald Trump doesn’t give Us free reign to put words in her mouth. Read the rest
The tabloids take a running jump before leaping to some pretty wild conclusions this week – one of the few things they do well.
The National Enquirer has a series of stories based on Olympic-level leaping. "Scientology horror – Suri saw it all.” No, she didn’t. Tom Cruise’s daughter saw nothing of the alleged “brainwashing,” “threats” and “bizarre rituals” at the pseudo-religion’s headquarters, because like her father, she would have been kept far from any unsightly scenes or behavior, and also because she was only a toddler at the time. I challenge any 18-month-old to say: “Daddy, that cult member has been working here for 16 hours suffering inhumane living and working conditions.” Not going to happen.
“Cops Quiz O.J. in Goldman Dad Murder for Hire Plot.” No, they haven’t quizzed O.J. about his supposed scheme to kill murder victim Ronald Goldman’s father, Fred. Even the Enquirer story claims that prison authorities have only interviewed the jailhouse snitch making the allegation that O.J. wanted to hire a hit man, and have not quizzed Simpson. And the Nevada Dept of Corrections denies any investigation whatsoever.
“Army Thanks Enquirer for Exposing Troops’ Crimes!” No, it didn’t. The Army thanked the Enquirer for agreeing to give its investigators photographs that allegedly show U.S. forces in Afghanistan abusing enemy corpses, but that’s not the same as thanking the rag for making as-yet-unproven allegations of what it terms “morally offensive crimes.” Because we all know how the Enquirer is a bastion of American morality.
“Proof Teddy Could Have Saved Mary Jo!” No, there’s no such proof. Read the rest
When Hillary Clinton slipped on steps polished slick by centuries of wear while clad in smooth-soled sandals during her visit to India’s Jahaz Mahal last week, it was clear to every observer that her left shoe had simply lost traction as she almost fell.
“Brain Cancer Battle!” screams this week's Globe cover, with its own medical interpretation of her stumble from half-way across the world. But that’s not all. “She’s back on booze,” reports the magazine for good measure, deciding that her near-fall can best be explained by a combination of “a killer brain tumor” and her decision “to throw caution to the wind and enjoy herself – by drinking!” Why they don’t think she’s shooting 8-balls and sniffing glue is beyond me.
The award-winning Globe team of fact-checkers must be on vacation this week, because its exclusive on “Meghan Kidnap Terror!” reporting that “Special Forces Foil Plot to Snatch Harry’s Bride” turns out to have no plot and no terror: Miss Markle simply underwent training in a kidnap scenario, as have most of the British Royal Family, to better appreciate how to act in the event of a real kidnapping.
“Michael Jackson is alive!” claims a Globe report, which even the rag admits is “mind-boggling,” alongside an autopsy photo of the pop icon beneath the words: “Real or Fake?” . . . a caption which the magazine should seriously consider affixing to every story. Jackson’s family and estate are allegedly in on the hoax. So where is the singer if he’s still alive? Read the rest
The British Royal Family is nothing more than a lurid soap opera to the tabloids, which this week come up with a few wild and fact-free plot twists of their own.
The tabloids have long indulged their salacious imaginations at the expense of the Royals, who are loathe to sue for libel, exposing them in recent months to stories of Prince Harry’s “real father” being at least two different men, Prince Charles plotting Princess Diana’s death, and Charles’ wife Camilla being locked up in a mental institution.
This week German TV repairman-turned-private eye Guenther Focke, aged 71, claims that he is Prince Charles’ long-lost brother, the result of his mother's World War II fling with Prince Phillip, according to the Globe, which includes the headline: “DNA Test Bombshell!” The bombshell? Focke is demanding a DNA test. The “exclusive interview” with Focke might be more gripping if he hadn’t been making this claim since 1995, and penned a book on the subject in 2008: Not In Her Majesty’s Service. In those past 22 years not one iota of evidence has confirmed Focke’s claims, but that’s good enough for the Globe to revive the ancient allegation.
“William & Kate Crowned King and Queen!” screams the cover of the National Enquirer, in a story that spectacularly ignores every known fact and law in the Royal line of succession.
A “top secret meeting of government leaders” from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand meets next month to force Queen Elizabeth to abdicate and “cast their votes in secret” for Prince William to take the throne, “and there’s nothing the Queen – desperate for Charles, her eldest son, to succeed her – can do.”
Let’s be clear on this: The Queen has vowed never to abdicate; Charles is next in line for the throne; and there is nothing foreign government leaders can do to change the British line of succession, unless the British Parliament ever votes to abolish the monarchy. Read the rest