The source was Star Magazine – the always, always reliable Star Magazine. The same magazine that slaps a Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie break up story on their cover every other week. Star Magazine broke the news on Saturday that the Pitts had wed in New Orleans. The internets went wild, the haters called them out for selling out the gay solidarity movement, and the Brangelunatics started packing up for a Pitt pilgrimage to Louisiana, especially when Pitt’s publicist Cindy Guagenti cryptically replied that she had « no idea » as to the veracity of the story. And she knew exactly what she was doing. The Pitts love free faux publicity! Especially when it’s positive! 

But then the competition, smelling blood, particularly since Star hasn’t exactly been the bastion of accuracy, came out fists flying – led by, quoting their own sources that refuted the wedding claims, insisting that the Pitts hadn’t stepped foot outside Texas, where they’ve been ensconced for the last few weeks while Brad’s been shooting a movie.

Us Weekly soon followed – calling the Star story « complete and total bullsh*t », and under the relentless assault of the People/US one-two punch, Star quickly recanted their exclusive, blaming it now on sources that are no longer able to re-confirm what they initially confirmed.

This is what happens with lower tier, bottom-feeding rags, see? Who’s to say that Star didn’t have an online ad target this weekend? Perhaps they were charged with generating a certain amount of a page views and impressions last week that they were unable to deliver by Friday? Is it so improbable that they’d run with this to maximise web traffic given that their business isn’t based on accuracy anyway?

Consider the example of Life & Style – remember this infamous cover? February 2006, when Katie Holmes was in her 15th trimester, Life & Style kicked off what would be their signature move... a story with no merit that created a huge, huge, huge splash and sustained them for many months afterwards. 

At the end of the day, as you all know, Tom did not release her. But Life & Style saw a spike at the newsstand.

No doubt, gossip is a highly speculative business. Everyone gets a bad tip now and again. What matters is that the good tips outnumber, hopefully greatly outnumber, the bad tips. Or in the case of Life & Style, Star, and In Touch.... the totally totally fake tips.