Fake news isn’t necessarily fact-free. Context is everything, and it’s the lack of it that can turn facts into fake news, as this week’s tabloids demonstrate.
“Royals New Nazi Shame!” screams the ‘Globe’ cover, showing a blurry black-and-white photo of a seven-year-old future Queen Elizabeth II giving a Nazi salute.
Let’s ignore for one moment the fact that this is not new, but lifted from a Royal home movie filmed in 1933 or 1934, and first made public three years ago.
The Nazi salute today is redolent of the atrocities inflicted under its shadow over the following decade, but at the time this was filmed the gesture was a curious novelty that would have seen on newsreels, and a child mimicking it in the early ’Thirties could not possibly know what it would later come to symbolize.
Britain’s Royal Family certainly had some Nazi apologists, and even early sympathizers in their ranks, but the Queen was never one of them, and framing a seven-year-old’s gesture as fascism is turning facts into fake news.
“Cops Find JonBenet’s Killer!” proclaims the ‘National Enquirer’ cover, returning to its favorite murdered child beauty pageant queen. “Case Closed.”
There is a minuscule factual nugget at the center of this air-filled soufflé: police apparently spent two hours interviewing a blogger who reported on JonBenet Ramsey’s neighbor, Glenn Meyer, allegedly keeping a shrine to the slain child.
Yet the blogger had only been posting allegations made elsewhere originally . . . in the ‘Enquirer’ in February.
Meyer’s widow, Charlotte Hey, aged 86, claims that she asked her husband if he had murdered JonBenet. Read the rest
Supermarket tabloids have given us aliens in the White House, Bat Boy, Elvis lives, and the first photos of heaven, but I never thought I’d read this stunning sentence . . .
“In May, a new ferry service began moving up to 200 passengers and 1,000 tons of cargo every month between North Korea and the Russian port of Vladivostok.”
What the hell is happening at the ‘National Enquirer?’ They’ve gone so deep into Donald Trump’s corner that its readers who crave titilating details of celebrity scandal are being fed a weekly diet of Trumped-up propaganda, which this week brings us a cover story and three pages on “Trump’s secret plan to defeat North Korea’s Doomsday machine.”
America is evidently under siege by North Korea’s escalating nuclear weapons program, and “Donald
Trump has taken bold and extraordinary steps to ensure America survives the siege and emerges with total victory!”
That sounds like something that Kim Jong-un’s propaganda machine might churn out, but it’s here in the ‘Enquirer,’ which laboriously details tanker movements between North Korea and Russia, reporting: “It could be oil - or something much more sinister.” Maybe they’re shipping old copies of the ‘Enquirer’ to North Korea - what could be more sinister that that?
At least it’s not all geopolitics in this week’s tabloids.
Kim Kardashian has been allegedly “caught on drug video” claims the ‘Enquirer,’ though since it was filmed in 2003, that’s neither new or shocking. Dubious reporting abounds in the ‘Enquirer,’ which claims that Natalie Wood “was raped before her death!” The mag explains that a rape kit may have been used during the actress’s autopsy, but no results were ever released. Read the rest
The National Enquirer's circulation peaked in 1988 at 4 million, while today it averages 325,000 copies sold, mostly to low-income, over-80-year olds. Its best retailer is Wal-Mart. It does not publish any material critical of Donald Trump. Read the rest
UFO sightings are on the rise, and America has 300 times the number of E.T. reports than the global median, claims the ‘National Examiner,’ which has done the math so that you don’t have to.
That may explain why this week’s tabloids seem even more divorced from reality than usual.
Has President Trump’s tenuous affiliation with facts given the tabloids carte blanche to engage in flights of fantasy? Enquiring minds want to know.
Just like the “New York Times’ has its venerable motto “All the news that’s fit to print,” so the ‘National Enquirer’ has begun stamping across the bottom of almost every other page its blustering credo: “The only publication with the guts to tell it like it is.” If only. Read the rest
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
Barack Obama’s real Kenyan birth certificate has been discovered, President Trump has caught “Russia’s White House spy,” and actor Robert Wagner has been hit by “grand jury murder charges” - if you believe this week’s tabloids.
Alas, it’s another basketful of wishful thinking, fact-challenged alternate realities.
“Proof Obama was born in Kenya!” screams the ‘Globe’ front cover, declaring his Hawaiian birth certificate a forgery, and publishing “the real deal” issued by the Coast Province General Hospital in Mombasa, the Republic of Kenya, on August 4, 1961. The “damning hospital birth certificate” was revealed by Obama’s own “brother” - actually, his half-brother, Malik Obama.
It ’s a great scoop, except for a few minor details: This is the same Kenyan birth certificate we first saw eight years ago; in the early 1960s the term “Coast Province” was not used, as provinces were still referred to as “regions;” the nation was then called the Dominion of Kenya, not the Republic; Mombasa was part of Zanzibar until 1963; and the attending physician named on the certificate worked in Nairobi, not Mombasa. The alleged certificate also uses American-style date notations - month, day, year - rather than the British-style then used in Kenya: day, month, year. And the certificate looks nothing like any Kenyan birth certificate of its time.
Apart from that, it’s a good story.
Robert Wagner has finally been brought to justice for killing his wife, Natalie Wood, the ‘Globe’ claims on its cover. Except when you read the story inside, it turns out to be more wishful thinking. Read the rest
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
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
He’s been called psychotic, narcissistic and dangerously unbalanced, but finally we have the ‘National Enquirer’ dig its notoriously sharp teeth into President Donald Trump this week with its revelatory cover story: “The Secret Psych Evaluation!” Read the rest
There are lies, damn lies (AKA Trump statements) and tabloid news.
"Michael Jackson exhumed!" screams this week's 'Globe.' Inside, a two-page spread sits under the headline: "Jackson crypt opened for new autopsy!"
Lies, plain and simple, as the 'Globe' article itself attests, if one bothers to read it. The gloved one's daughter Paris recently told 'Rolling Stone' magazine that she thought her father may have been murdered, which supposedly prompted the 'Globe' to initiate an "exhaustive investigation." This amounts to asking a bunch of rent-a-quote "experts" if Jackson could have been murdered. Their conclusion: "Michael Jackson's body must be exhumed for a new autopsy."
In other words, there's nothing new to the story, and Jackson's body is still six feet under.
Prince Charles' wife is the target of the 'Globe' cover headline: "Alcoholic Camilla Thrown Into Rehab!" Seasoned tabloid readers will fondly remember the 'Globe' cover of November 25, 2013, with the headline: "Queen Orders Drunken Camilla Into Detox!" Both stories rely on the Royal Family's reluctance to sue for libel, and seem to be based on nothing coming close to resembling a fact. Of course, the latest 'Globe' report doesn't suggest that Camilla is in an actual rehab clinic, but "has been confined to her quarters in Highgrove House."
Which was easily disproved when Camilla was seen with Prince Charles on February 8 happily mingling with crowds as they visited an art show in the British town of Hull, and appeared earlier this week at a charity dinner in London. Read the rest
O.J. Simpson's "murder knife" has been found, Barack Obama plans to "steal back" the White House, and James Dean "didn't die" in his 1955 car crash but went into hiding.
It's yet another embarrassment of factually-challenged riches brought to us by this week's tabloids.
"O.J. Murder Knife Found!" scrams the 'National Enquirer,' which enterprisingly searched the grounds of Simpson's former Florida home with a metal detector, and claims to have dug up a blade "nearly 4 inches long" buried under two feet of earth near the perimeter of the two-acre property.
The 'Enquirer' shouldn't need reminding that Los Angeles County chief medical examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran told the trial jury that Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed in 1994 with a weapon believed to be "about six inches long." Not what the 'Enquirer' dug up. End of story. Put it back in the ground.
Is Obama engaged in a "Secret Plot to Steal Back White House," as the grammatically-challenged 'Enquirer' claims? An "in-depth National Enquirer investigation" has found that Obama "is working with Dems to undermine Trump." Wow, that must have taken a lot of digging. Who would have thought it? "Obama is grooming Michelle to run for the Democratic Party nomination in 2020," claims the report. How does the 'Enquirer' know that's his aim? "The first step in Obama's plan was moving into a mansion just TWO MILES from the White House so he'd remain close to the D.C. political scene." Brilliant investigative work by the 'Enquirer.' What more proof is needed that Michelle Obama is running in 2020? Read the rest
What does it take to be a tabloid reporter?
Bare minimum requirements demand a Harvard medical degree, five years of psychic training, and a mandatory year spent working at an "I Guess Your Weight' midway booth at Coney Island.
It's this impressive level of training that allows this week's tabloids to bring their impressive diagnostic powers to bear on the burning issues of the day: how much do Angelina Jolie and Bill Clinton weigh?
"Dying Angie" is a sylph-like "76 lbs" - way down from the 87 lbs the tabloids put her at a few weeks ago - and on "hunger strike" after "divorce pushed her to breaking point!" claims the grammatically-challenged 'National Enquirer.'
"Skeletal and near death, Angelina Jolie could survive only by having liquid food suctioned through her nose - and then stuffed down to her stomach," it reports. A mere layman might assume she could just pick up a fork and eat something, but the medically-trained experts at the 'Enquirer' know when force-feeding a liquid diet is a patient's only hope.
Apparently in years past Angie would sometimes leave food untouched outside her bedroom door, and now "if she's really skinny, she must be doing it again," says a source. Must she? Who is that informed insider? It's "a source close to Brad's longtime psychic," the 'Enquirer' reveals. That's what qualifies as an unimpeachable source: someone acquainted with Jolie's estranged husband's psychic? Perhaps that's who's been telling President Trump that attendance at his inauguration broke all crowd records? Read the rest
What do Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson have in common? Both plan to come back from the dead, according to this week's fact-challenged tabloids.
Mass killer Manson is "using voodoo to live again and get revenge" claims the 'Globe.' Inspired by allegations that Manson has been sticking pins in voodoo dolls of his enemies, the 'Globe' alleges that "Manson's most chilling plan is to use voodoo to turn himself into a zombie, a walking dead man, after his demise, so he could continue taking revenge on the world!"
O.J. Simpson evidently plans a more exulted route to life after incarceration. "Tell them to expect me like they're expecting Jesus to come back - because I'm coming," reports the 'National Enquirer.'
One thing is certain: If both men get to walk the Earth again it won't be long before Ryan Seacrest Productions combines them for one hell of a reality TV show. Or maybe 'Lifestyles of the Undead & Famous?'
I really need to tell any tabloid Editors out there: This word "Exclusive" - You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means.
Just look at that blurred, fuzzy photo purporting to be Charles Manson in a hospital bed, beneath the headline "Another Enquirer Exclusive - The Photo That No Other Publication In The World Could Get!"
It's not such a singular sensation when the 'Globe' publishes the same photo on its cover, beneath the headline "World Exclusive."
Or how about the 'Globe' offering its "Exclusive Interview & Photos" of actress Shelley Duvall living in what appears to be reduced circumstances on a ranch in Texas? Read the rest
You pays your money and you takes your choice with this week's tabloids.
"Crooked Hillary Will Die in Jail!" screams the 'Globe' cover, with a two-page exclusive inside predicting "Hillary's Prison Death Sentence!" You have to admire the Photoshopped picture of an ashen-faced Hillary, dark bags around her eyes, care-worn face furrowed with wrinkles, clad in an orange jumpsuit behind grey metal prison bars. It's harder to be impressed by the "new evidence that will put her away!" which supposedly will be supplied by former president Bill Clinton when he testifies before the Eastern District of New York grand jury investigating the Clinton Foundation -- testimony which he may never give. And that "death sentence"? That's simply the 'Globe' anticipating that "Bill's testimony sends her away for 20 years," and with her "killer medical ailments, even a 10-year stretch would be a death sentence."
But if you believe the 'National Enquirer' -- and who wouldn't? -- the future looks rosy for Hillary Clinton, who it forecasts could be the next Mayor of New York City. It "Could Happen" assures the 'Enquirer,' which calls her mayoral election "easy pickings."
Singer George Michael "turned to booze and drugs" after his voice was "destroyed" by pneumonia in 2011, leading to his tragic demise, reports the 'Globe.'
Or you can believe the 'Enquirer,' which insists: "Blackmail Demands Drove George To Suicide!" Supposedly Michael was "driven to suicide by sinister blackmail threats from a train of male lovers in his life." It's a typically homophobic allegation that makes little sense for a man who was openly and proudly gay, and had little to fear from exposure. Read the rest