The Tabloid Myths of Jennifer Aniston and Donald Trump

In a miserable information cycle, the quilt of In Touch Weekly’s Jan. 21 concern was a good looking sight.

It was a blast from a easier previous, with its classic of a beaming Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt staring out at readers from above the daring headline: “We’re Having a Girl!”

For some who noticed it within the racks, me included, the quilt of this grocery store tabloid offered a double dose of pleasure. Not solely was the It Couple of the late 1990s and early aughts again collectively — they had been about to be mother and father.

But wait a minute.

The story rang a bell, and after I appeared into it, I discovered that In Touch had devoted its cowl to the same piece of information again in October, with a narrative headlined “Brad & Jen Baby Announcement! ‘Our Dream Finally Came True!’” That one included the persuasive-seeming element that the father-to-be was “designing the nursery in their new home.”

And what about that different time Ms. Aniston was pregnant? In July, the In Touch cowl promised, “Bombshell Pregnancy News!” — and that was simply the icing atop the marriage cake of the headline “Brad & Jen: Just Married! Inside the Backyard Ceremony.”

Before that, in May, OK! journal, which shares an proprietor with In Touch, American Media Inc., ran a canopy photograph of a cheerful Ms. Aniston and Mr. Pitt with the headline: “Yes, I’m Pregnant — With Brad’s Baby!”

Going by the tabloid studies, I discovered that Ms. Aniston ought to have given start to some two dozen infants in the previous couple of years. According to OK! alone, she has acquired as much as 15 children since 2013, having been pregnant 9 instances — twice with twins! — whereas additionally adopting a 3rd set of twins.

Mr. Trump ran his campaign and at times runs his White House with a reliance on the same mix of fantasy and truthiness typical of supermarket tabloids and reality TV. Just as a large group of people can’t get enough of the tales about Ms. Aniston, a large constituency seems eager to believe a reality-show narrative about the 45th president.

On “The Apprentice,” he was a straight-shooting, street-smart businessman. To rally-goers during his campaign, he was the outsider who sought to smash a calcified ruling elite. As president, he has been the man willing to fight off resistance from “the deep state” to do what’s right, even if it means shutting down the government.

In this scenario, the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III plays the role filled by Ms. Jolie in the Aniston saga — the foil who thrives on thwarting our protagonist.

Just as I have found myself tempted to believe the Pregnant Jen story line, the president’s fans seem more than willing to embrace this version of reality — a story line that has been fleshed out by The National Enquirer, his unignorable Twitter feed, his Fox News cheering section (Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, the gang at “Fox & Friends”), his radio boosters (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin), and his longtime adviser Roger Stone, who fed a new “deep state” theory to Infowars a week before his arrest on Friday.

The desire to believe helps explain polls like the one from Quinnipiac late last year reporting that 83 percent of Republicans view Mr. Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” despite the string of indictments, convictions and guilty pleas that preceded the charges against Mr. Stone.

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