Every so often I need to shake my head and remind myself how completely off-the-reservation the tabloids have become in their reportings about alleged movie-star couplings. In the ’80s and ’90s they used to piece together tidbits from their sources and create speculative articles that may, from time to time, have contained shards of truth. But over the last decade they seem to have gotten into a habit of inventing stuff out of whole cloth. Which their equally divorced-from-reality readers apparently have no problem with.

I’m reacting to, on one hand, a just-published Vanity Fair profile of New Moon costar Robert Pattinson by Evgenia Peretz that includes presumably earnest denials from Pattinson and costar Kristen Stewart that they’re in any kind of relationship. And on the other a torrent of tab and gossip-site stories that they’re living together, breaking up, etc. All apparently driven by their readers wanting them to be in a relationship, and any semblance of verifiable facts be damned.

In the old days only the surrealistic Weekly World News subsisted on total invention; now the mainstream tabloid family seems to be doing this, at least as far as romantic-intrigue stories are concerned.