Rumors about Jennifer Garner and her husband Ben Affleck’s impending divorce have been swirling for years (remember the Blake Lively car ride?). But they’ve picked up again with a vengeance, after a Radar report that Ben spent Jen’s birthday alone, in Canada—Canada!—without his wedding ring. So if the divorce is just matter of when, not if, the only remaining question is: Who gets the exclusive?

People magazine does—if People has anything to say about it. The comparatively respectable gossip mag has fashioned itself into Ben and Jen’s personal KCNA for the last two weeks, in what appears to be an incredibly thirsty campaign to convince the couple to bring their sorrows exclusively to its pages. Despite the fact that every other tabloid is covering the divorce rumors with barely suppressed glee, People has not so much as uttered the words “trial separation.” Every story about Ben and Jen is so positive, you’d think they’re about to renew their vows.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how Us Weekly, the Pepsi to People’s Coke, packaged the first paparazzi photo of the Afflecks after Radar reported they were dunzo:

People cheerily posted the same shot on May 29 without mentioning its significance.

Just a nice little lunch. The corresponding story is one of the stupidest celebrity items of all time. Here’s the lede:

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner stepped out for lunch in Los Angeles on Thursday before taking their two daughters for an after-school treat: frozen yogurt at Menchie’s. At Menchie’s, Garner, 43, helped Violet, 9, sample the yogurt, while Affleck, 42, helped Seraphina, 6. “Jen and Ben were focused on each kid,” says a source, as the family chatted.

“Jen and Ben were focused on each kid.” LOL. “Jen and Ben were performing equally well as parents, your Honor.”

The piece even plugs Jen’s (frankly embarrassing) upcoming projects: “Garner, meanwhile, announced earlier this month that she is starting a new line of creative kits and projects for active kids with Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. She was also recently cast in the upcoming Christian-focused drama Miracles from Heaven.” Can we get an IV drip in here? People just collapsed from dehydration.

As Us Weekly ramped up salacious coverage of the couple’s impending doom, People posted this on May 31:

Hahaha. She smiled so hard she broke a tooth!

People’s editors have gotten themselves in quite the predicament: they want to keep reporting on Ben and Jen, because that’s all anyone is talking about, but they can’t mention d-i-v-o-r-c-e until Ben and Jen’s people are officially ready to let Ben and Jen talk about it. So we get items like this:

People is even willing to play offense for the Afflecks, deflecting potential divorce stories before they show up in other tabloids. As soon as some damning paparazzi photos of the family’s in Los Angeles surfaced yesterday, People spit up this little number:

In addition to reporting that Ben and Jen are “remodeling their home and moving furniture out before construction begins,” People made sure to include this factoid in the story:

The pair will celebrate their 10 year anniversary on June 29. They met on the set of 2003 comic-book movie Daredevil, and began dating later that year before quietly getting married in 2005.

If there is such a thing as passive aggressive gossip reporting, People’s nailed it.

Meanwhile, Us Weekly dedicated its entire cover last week to the soon-to-be exes.

As People’s sorta trashy, Kardashian-obsessed younger sibling, Us Weekly knows it was never in the running to get the Bennifer 2: We’re Through cover anyway.

So if you care deeply about the state of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s unholy union, look to Us Weekly for today’s gossip and to People for tomorrow’s big, teary divorce reveal.

Image by Jim Cooke. Contact the author at