Angelina Jolie launched a calculated PR campaign against Brad Pitt last week, immediately after she filed for divorce from him and requested full custody of their six children. Multiple outlets, TMZ chief among them, painted Pitt as a bad dad with anger and substance-abuse problems, which primed readers for the bombshell that followed: Pitt is reportedly under investigation for child abuse stemming from a recent incident on the family’s private plane.
Details about the incident, which reportedly involved Pitt and Jolie’s 15-year-old son, Maddox, are murky, and Pitt has yet to release an official statement about it. The print tabloids have decided to help him, however. People has published several stories like, “Family Source Defends Brad Pitt: ‘He Is One of the Best Dads I Have Ever Known,’” and now Us Weekly has this on the cover: “ANGELINA EXPOSED: HER PLOT TO DESTROY BRAD.”
The story inside paints Jolie as a heartless figure who used the plane incident to take Pitt’s kids away from him. “Angie says she is going to destroy him,” a source told the tabloid. “If something is broken, she just throws it away.” Sources also suggested that Jolie had been plotting the divorce for a while, in order to better pursue a political career in the U.K.
Adding to that narrative, Us Weekly published another story this morning that focuses more on Pitt and his parenting style. A source in the story claims that Pitt and Jolie had “heated, screaming fights” about how to raise their children, because Pitt wanted the kids to have more structure in their lives. “Brad teaches them to be respectful human beings,” the source said. “Angelina lets the kids run around and behave badly.” The source also claimed that Pitt wanted the kids to go to regular school, but Jolie insisted on homeschool to allow for travel. “Brad wants them to have a normal upbringing and worries that they’ll come out spoiled, elitist and not grounded,” the source continued. “But Angie feels they should be ‘children of the world.’”
So this is Pitt’s strategy. Instead of directly addressing the reports of abuse, he’s gone to the magazines to create the narrative that he’s just an average, salt-of-the-earth, strict dad dealing with a loosey-goosey, out-of-touch partner who wants to let the kids run wild. Will it work? That depends on what else Jolie has to say.