I just don't know what to believe any more. On Tuesday morning, the latest issue of Grazia landed on my desk, its cover shouting the dreaded news: "IT'S OVER? Jen's turmoil as Justin runs back to ex." That question mark, by the way, proved crucial. Because over on the front page of the Daily Mail was the announcement that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux had, in fact, become engaged some time after Grazia went to press.
In July, the same magazine splashed on the assertion, "Katie and Tom: IT'S WAR!" That issue arrived about 12 hours after Holmes and Cruise had come to their remarkably speedy divorce settlement. Two years ago, Heat magazine led with the "shocking truth" that "heartbroken Cheryl" planned to "stand by" Ashley Cole; the couple announced that they were separating hours before the magazine reached the news-stands.
Most media outlets are criticised, quite rightly, when their reporting is wrong. Yet the glossy women's magazines get away with it week after week, by quoting their favourite celebrities' so-called friends. "Things have been so bad in the last few weeks that while they haven't actually split, it's pretty much been all but over", one of these "friends" told Grazia of Jen and Justin. "It's looking fairly unlikely they'll survive the next few weeks."
Assuming these thoroughly disloyal "friends" do exist, have they ever actually met Jen or Justin? Or Tom, or Katie, or Cheryl? Their stories are so distant from planet fact, so plainly based less on the truth than on the plots of Aniston's worst rom-coms, that it's a wonder these magazines' readers – let alone their journalists – still give them credence. Perhaps, were they forced to face the likes of Lord Justice Leveson, their defence might be that their tales are so conspicuously confected that nobody should confuse them for the truth. They're fan fiction: no more plausible than a blogger's gay-themed rewrite of Star Trek.
Robert Pattinson is reportedly depressed and drinking heavily following his split from Kristen Stewart. Really? Fame, RPattz told one prying interviewer this week, is "weird". David Cronenberg, the director of his new film Cosmopolis, elaborated on his behalf. "It's a very abstract realm," Cronenberg said, "that doesn't have a lot to do with personal reality." Now that I can believe.