The tabloids hit a macabre trifecta this month with extensive reports on three of their major stories: the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the death of Princess Diana, and the dead duck presidency of Bill Clinton.
Who killed JonBenet, the 6-year-old beauty queen, has been an obsession of the tabs since her father found her body in the basement of their Boulder, Colo., mansion in December 1996. The coverage of the investigation has been like the course of a long, fatal illness, with many remissions and recurrences. But this week, at least, the tabs indicate the end may be near. Each of the three weeklies touts different "bombshell" allegations that tie the girl's parents to her death.
JonBenet's wealthy father, John Ramsey, wasn't as surprised by the discovery of his daughter's body as you might suspect, says the National Enquirer, citing grand jury testimony by the Ramseys' former friend Fleet White. According to the publication, White looked in the basement for the supposedly kidnapped girl but, unable to locate a light switch, he couldn't see anything in one of the pitch-dark, windowless rooms. Later, the Enquirer says he testified, Ramsey started screaming at the entrance to that room before he flicked on the switch, leading White to believe Ramsey already knew his daughter's body was there. The Enquirer also says Ramsey tried to convince authorities that an intruder had entered the house by lifting a grate outside the basement. But, the Enquirer reports, analysis by arachnologist Brent Opell of a spider web covering the grate indicates it had been undisturbed for at least a month prior to JonBenet's death. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
A pair of beaver skin boots could implicate JonBenet's mother, Patsy, declares the Star. Referring to "top-secret police files," the publication says that a strand of animal fur was found on the duct tape used to cover the murdered girl's mouth. Police suspect it will match the boots Patsy was wearing the night of the murder. Also, three weeks after the murder, a bookkeeper at a Boulder hardware store notified police that a man named John had called wanting copies of receipts for purchases charged by Patsy Ramsey. Police believe the duct tape was bought at the store, but the receipt listed only prices, not specific items. Also, John and Patsy told police that they had put their daughter to bed after Christmas dinner and never seen her alive again. But an autopsy revealed that at midnight JonBenet had a snack of pineapple--fingerprints on a kitchen bowl indicate she and her mother and brother ate together--and that she died around two hours later.
The Globe touts an "exclusive" from a "tipster" who claims that in the hours after JonBenet was discovered, John Ramsey gave away a box--supposedly of the girl's personal items--so they wouldn't "get ruined during the investigation." The Globe claims that the box actually contains the sheets and several stuffed animals that were on her bed the night of her murder, as well as the nightgown she was wearing. An informed source told the Globe the allegations are "totally misinformed" and "completely inaccurate."
On the anniversary of Diana's death, the tabs exhume their theories about the nefarious reasons her life was cut short. The Star floats what could be called the Anne Boleyn theory--that is, the British government had Diana murdered. Their evidence doesn't quite rise to the level where it could be characterized as preposterous. Here it goes: The drunken driver of the car in which Diana died, Henri Paul, had more than $200,000 in the bank, although he earned only $30,000 a year. This indicates to the Star that he was an informer for British intelligence. Richard Tomlinson, an ex-employee of MI6 who was jailed last year for trying to sell his memoirs, asserts that only the British would pay a Frenchman that well. "French intelligence would never pay him that amount of money," says Tomlinson. Aside from the issue of pay scales on either side of the Channel, even if Paul was an informer, the Star doesn't grapple with why MI6 would want Diana dead. Like Boleyn, she may have been an incompliant consort, but by then she was a former one.
Into the breach steps the Enquirer, whose theory is that the car accident was the result of a kidnapping gone wrong. British intelligence didn't want to kill Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed, it simply wanted to scare them apart because, asserts Islamic scholar Yaqub Zaki, "the idea of the future King of England, Prince William, having a Muslim stepfather was intolerable. And the idea of a half-brother or half-sister with brown skin was unthinkable."
If there was a murder plot, the Globe may have unwittingly ended up pointing the finger at a really big fish. In this week's issue the publication reports that shortly before she died, Diana "told pals she was planning to remarry the prince!" Now, if this were true, there is certainly one person who would want to make sure such an event never came to pass. Or to put it another way, does anyone really know where Queen Elizabeth was the night of Diana's death?
The tabs are filled with royal news this month. Most disturbing is a report in the Globe that Prince Charles might be suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The publication says royal insiders are worried about an apparent decline in Charles' short-term memory and say the prince has turned to a specialist for help. Helping Charles' sons deal with their grief over their mother's death is former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke. Although Diana "despised" her for calling the boys "my babies" (according to the Enquirer), a royal insider says, "If Di's looking down from heaven, I'm sure she's forgiven her." And love has found an ex-member of the British royal family. According the Enquirer Sarah Ferguson is "head over heels" over Italian Count Gaddo della Gherardesca. As the Enquirer says, nobody would begrudge Fergie a little happiness, but how much more euphonious it would be if Tiggy Legge-Bourke had coupled with Gaddo della Gherardesca. Finally an item in the Globe wins this month's "When Hell Freezes Over" award. According to the publication, Frank Sinatra's widow, Barbara, has set her sights on Grace Kelly's widower, Prince Rainier of Monaco. Reports the Globe: "Now pals say it's only a matter of time before Barbara's mourning is over and she flies off to Monaco and a new life with Rainier."
Stuck in his old life is our commander in chief, and the tabs take notably different approaches to his predicament. Last week the Enquirer delivered when it said it found out the "shocking truth behind the Zippergate scandal." And what is this new, depraved revelation?
He fell in love with Monica Lewinsky--and even told her he wanted to be with her when he left office. ... [T]he passion and pain of the affair that shook the world has been exposed in the lovers' own words. ... A stunning picture of a love-starved President driven beyond reason by a passionate young lover. ... He assured her, "I never really knew what love could be until you came along."
The Enquirer is probably the only publication in the world to go with this Lucy Mercer hypothesis. (Mercer was the lifelong love of Franklin Roosevelt, and the revelation of their affair nearly ended his marriage to Eleanor. It's probably safe to say Clinton's real feelings for Lewinsky actually go in another direction; see the Anne Boleyn theory, above.)
Romantics will warm to further Enquirer disclosures. The president was "[l]onely and starved for affection. ... [Monica] made him feel good about himself." He told her, says the publication, that his relationship with Hillary was now nothing more than a political alliance that would end when his term did. "The President further charmed Monica by fantasizing out loud how wonderful it would be if he had a son." Oh, to get an invitation to that bris! Bill and Monica also at one point planned a tryst on Martha's Vineyard, but Bill finally chickened out, says the publication. This was before a vacation on Martha's Vineyard became a synonym for the first circle of hell.
This week the Enquirer offers a preview of Ken Starr's report on the great love affair, which will enumerate romps "in the Presidential limo, the Oval Office and even the LINCOLN BEDROOM!" The publications says the report will include information on how "Monica used a cigar in a sexually uninhibited manner" and how "Clinton used one of the ties given to him by Monica in sexy games during their Oval Office trysts." The Enquirer also leaves the strong impression the report is being written by Judith Krantz, with dialogue such as:
Monica: You are the kinkiest man I've ever been with.
The Star says the Starr report will disclose that Clinton has particular ideas about the Second Coming when it depicts a sexual encounter with Lewinsky at the White House following Easter Sunday church services. The publication also has a thinly sourced account of how, in July, Clinton "fondled and made crude remarks to a waitress at a posh Washington, D.C., area country club" after a round of golf. Reading the story you first think, "This didn't happen; he couldn't be that stupid." Then you think, "Well ..."
The Globe, as usual, is in Bill's corner, complete with transcripts of the first family's heartfelt conversations. Hillary would make Tammy Wynette proud as she says: "I've forgiven Bill. ... I won't let that woman wreck my marriage or rob my husband of the place he's earned in my heart, our daughter's heart or in American history." Bill also has some moving words for Hillary that "Keeping Tabs" ran through the Bill Clinton AutoParser. The Globe reports Bill said to Hillary, "Darling, whatever I've done, I have never stopped loving you for one single moment." The AutoParser says Clinton really means, "It was legally accurate to say that in my encounters with Miss Lewinsky there was no controlling genital authority." And the president also told his wife: "The hurt in your eyes is torture to me. If you forgive me, I'll never look at anyone else again." According to the AutoParser, this means, "I will never again look at a woman named Anyone Else."