Slate's Chatterbox recently e-mailed Keeping Tabs to inquire when the tabloids would descend upon Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Since even the venerable Washington Post saw fit to write an acid-tongued deconstruction of Ms. Harris' toilette, Keeping Tabs felt fairly confident that the tabloids—all of them Florida-based, mind you—would soon dig up an orgy or two in Madame Secretary's past, à la Darva Conger, or at the very least find a compelling childhood tragedy of the disabled sibling/deadbeat father variety. But alas, the tabs just may be the only publications in America to have declared themselves Harris-free zones.
Similarly, Keeping Tabs could find only two recent tabloid references to chad. One is in this week's National Enquirer, which gets all Ripley's Believe It or Not-ish on us, using a "high-tech, extremely sensitive measuring device" to determine that a single chad weighs only a milligram, the "same as two four-inch-long human hairs. … [I]t would take 2,500 chads [sic]—'pregnant,' 'dimpled' or otherwise—to equal the weight of a single cent!" The accompanying photo shows 300 chad, which "could have determined our next President" being dwarfed by a postage stamp. (Next: The Enquirer shows how lightning works!) The Globe, for its part, offers a story about actor Chad Everett, memorable for his role as Dr. Joe Gannon on the 1970s drama Medical Center. According to the Globe, Everett still writes love poems to his wife, Shelby, "and it's no wonder—she stood by him after his career hit the skids and he plunged into a nightmare of boozing."
Unlike a lot of their media brethren, the tabs have also managed to resist the urge to indulge in lots of cornball Election Day humor. A careful search of the recount references, for instance, turned up only Jerry Seinfeld's supposed declaration in the Enquirer about his newborn baby daughter, Sascha: "We won't be demanding a recount on this one—she's perfect!" Just a week after the birth, by the way, Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, had already been dubbed the "mom from hell" by the Globe. (Keeping Tabs thinks this may be a new record, but she's still waiting for the results to be certified—har, har.) Actually, speaking of new records, we'd be remiss not to point out that both the Enquirer and the Globe are now reporting that Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt's four-month old marriage is in trouble. "Any way you look at it, it's reached a crisis point," an insider tells the Enquirer.
The tabs have not turned an entirely deaf ear to the election, however. In keeping with the national mood, everyone in Tabloidland seems to be feeling unusually quarrelsome and argumentative. George Bush getting "snippy" with Al Gore? Bo-ring. Here are some of Keeping Tabs' favorite showdowns, tabloid-style.
1) Gwyneth Paltrow vs. Elizabeth Hurley (the Star) The headline: "Gwyneth and Liz! Catfight!"
The dispute: "Claws are being sharpened for an all-out catfight" between the two women over who will become the new face of Estée Lauder cosmetics. Word on the street, says the Star, is that Lauder executives are "fed up with [Hurley's] very public love affairs and constant flaunting of her sexuality," preferring the "hot—yet wholesome—presence projected by Paltrow."
Sample (supposed) jabs:
Hurley: "Who does that bony thing think she is? I'll see to it that she doesn't upstage me. The public likes a real woman, one who's got some curves."
Paltrow: "Isn't Liz just a tad too old for that job, anyway," Paltrow supposedly "icily" asked a pal.
Winner: Hurley, by a nose.
2) Liza Minnelli vs. Lorna Luft (the Globe)
The headline: "Food Fight!"
The dispute: Yes, yes, it was just a few weeks ago that the tabs were reporting that the sisters had ended their long-standing feud, spurred on by Liza's brush with death. It was nice while it lasted, but apparently the détente evaporated as soon as the dinner bell rang; now the two are reportedly "exchanging angry shots in a battle of the bulge." The problem, it appears, is that Lorna "wants her recuperating sister to dine sensibly on healthy stuff like salads—but Liza, 54, is chowing down on her favorite calorie-packed foods!"
Sample (supposed) jabs:
Lorna: "Are you crazy? You can't be eating anything fattening."
Liza: "Look who's talking! You're as big as a house! Who died and made you Jenny Craig?"
Winner: Liza, in a landslide.
3) Laura Bush vs. Tipper Gore (the Globe)
The headline: "Battle of the First Ladies: Laura & Tipper's heart-to-heart turns into a CATFIGHT"
The dispute: The basic problem, according to the Globe, is that the two potential first ladies simply dislike one another. "Tipper thinks Laura is a stuck-up, dry-as-dust bookworm, while Laura says Tipper is an overweight show-off who never thinks before she speaks," says an insider. Things supposedly really got out of control, however, during a phone call between the two that quickly degenerated into "snarling" and "relentless sniping" that "looked like it would end up a national disaster."
"They said really low-down and nasty things to each other," affirms the Globe's insider. "It got out of control." The story begins, we should point out, with the words, "Screech! Meowch!"
Sample (supposed) jabs:
"When Laura tried to say that George would make a better president, Tipper said, 'No way! Al's much smarter!' "
"Angry Laura told her rival, 'After the last eight years, that place needs a real spring-cleaning—if you know what I mean!' But Tipper blasted back, 'If there's any spring-cleaning to do, I'm gonna be the one using the broom.' "
"Laura said people found it hard to like Al. But Tipper screeched that if G.W. walked through the White House doors, voters would quickly learn that he isn't smart enough for the job."
"Tipper told Laura that if she and George had done such a good job in the Lone Star state maybe they should stay deep in the heart of Texas. Laura then came back with a crack about how Al claimed he invented the Internet so maybe he should get a job in computers."
Winner: Keeping Tabs is going with the Globe's "insider." They get paid for this stuff, you know.