By Tim Wyatt / The Dallas Morning News
With grocery stores online now, it's only fair to mention those dauntless checkout line bastions of UFO kidnappings, miracle diets and strange celebrity romances . the tabloids. Actually, so-called scandal sheets have been online a lot longer than most virtual meat and vegetable stands, despite perceptions that most of their readers aren't what some might consider the digital type. Then again, who's not going to admit sneaking a peek at the cover stories while waiting for a price check?
The National Enquirer
Maybe the most recognizable of the big tabloids, this cyberstop for inquiring minds is ready to tell all, such as the lead story about Hollywood supporters of President Clinton who are "turning the White House into an Animal House" with wild parties and liberal politics in the Lincoln Bedroom. If that's too upsetting, the Enquirer staff has a touching story of how lawyers stick together, as The Practice star Camryn Mannheim saved Ally McBeal star Portia de Rossi from anorexia. And what tabloid would be worth its salt without a love child feature? Take singer Tom Jones' alleged (our term) illegitimate son starting his own singing career at age 12. And we're told everything here is true.
Weekly World News
Another heavyweight in the pulp nonfiction category, Weekly World News led off a recent edition with a standard for this journalism genre . predictions. Yep. It's going to be a cold one this winter, coldest since '70. But the real scoop falls into the nature's marvels category with the delightful half-human interest story of "bat boy." They've got photos for evidence, and we all know these guys wouldn't dare fudge a discovery such as this, right?
The third member of the big tabloid triumvirate lends a little home-grown flavor with Texan and former fried chicken hostess Anna Nicole Smith telling the masses: "I'm no gold digger." And Ms. Smith, dressed in a revealing, low-cut sequined evening gown, is not kidding. The link to the hard-copy version of the Star, however, tells of first lady Hillary Clinton taking a midnight swim with a "gal pal," whatever that's supposed to imply. Another attraction here is Dirty Secrets, a chat board where readers can file their own sleazy little tidbits about celebrities. Just last week, we found a guy who claimed to be Regis Philbin's illegitimate son who had had a torrid affair with Elvis recently.
This British version of trash talking . er, gossip mongering . has a story about Queen Elizabeth walking around an art gallery with a donated bouquet consisting of yellow flowers and cannabis leaves, oblivious that she'd been handed a third-degree felony as a prop by a proponent of legalizing marijuana. Insubordination, I say, but the site should be proof enough of a strong bond between Britain and the Colonies. Although this overseas publication spends a lot of time on the Royals, don't worry about there not being enough space for America's King. Elvis allegedly haunted the production crew of a popular television show.
New York Post
Blame it on alien saboteurs, but three or four visits here proved too slow loading for the Big Apple's top tabloid. That aside, the Post isn't in the same shameless league as those mentioned above, though it does have its moments with sensational headlines. Collectors of catchy headlines are sure to remember when this daily posted the true crime scoop: "Headless man found in topless bar." For the gossip and celebrity sightings, link over to the Post's affiliated site, PageSix.com, where Liz Smith spins exclusives along with other top-notch columnists who rub shoulders with the world's hoi polloi.
Call it what you will, the Drudge Report was the first online gossip column to make it to the big time, which means getting sued for libel. We won't bother you with details of that messy misunderstanding, but practically everyone online knows about Matt Drudge's column on the goings-on up on Capitol Hill. Still, for the three or four of you out there who haven't logged on, we thought we'd introduce you. Now, Mr. Drudge's part in all this is crammed among a ton of online wire service links and headlines from elsewhere, so don't mix up the sources here. His are ones where the sources typically go unnamed.
OK, so we don't have room for every sleazy, nosey little rag that pokes and prods into the private lives of the rich and famous. Luckily, Gossip City filled a Web site with them. Whether you're looking to deny reading about the latest dirty little secret or not, this is the place to get some scandalous information . in some cases, misinformation . on anything about show biz types, miracle cures and what's ahead for 2001, the real new millennium.