The National Enquirer says Ronald's wife, Nancy, cares for him almost alone in their home near Los Angeles, with three of the four grown-up children quarrelling about his fast-diminishing money.
The four-page article described Mrs Reagan, 78, as "distraught" at the children's behaviour. It accused Ron jnr, Patti and Michael, a talkshow host, of exploiting their name while abandoning their father. The only child to escape criticism is Maureen, described as the only one to give "real support" to Mrs Reagan. The highly sympathetic article contains so much intimate domestic detail there are suggestions that Mrs Reaganauthorised it.
The central criticism is that the children stopped visiting him regularly when Mrs Reagan halted their monthly allowances because the money was needed for medical expenses. Michael and Patti say they see him regularly.
While "supermarket tab-loids" such as the Enquirer are scorned by America's chattering classes, they cover stories judged by mainstream media as too hot to handle, whether on grounds of taste, privacy or because the subject has the untouchability of a national icon.