Newspaper editors love nothing more than a great bogeyman - a monster to send shoots of terror up the readers' spines and have them just scurrying to the news stands.
This year there's a new bogeyman in town - a horrendous beast, both foul-mouthed and foul to look at. Over the last few weeks, he has become the Western World's Number One Monster, a bogeyman who could single-handedly bring about the end of human civilisation as we know it;
Forget scare stories about Isis terrorists, or medical scares about Ebola and Bird Flu and Sars. Even stories about swarms of rampaging migrants have had to take a back-seat.
Because these days, there's only one monster in town - and his name is Donald Trump.
Oooooooh! Are the hairs prickling at the nape of your neck yet? It's like reading a really spicy horror story - you're so keyed up that just the clock chimes will have you jumping out of your skin!
Throughout kitchens across the world, people are daily sucking on their teeth and saying, "Just imagine what would happen if that creep Trump became President of America!"
President Trump indeed! The thought of it would give anyone the willies!
Now - I don't want to spoil the party.
I realise that scare stories have been around for thousands of years. Why - even the Romans loved a good dose of the terrors. And, I have to confess, I used to peddle a fair few of them myself when I worked on The Sun.
But the thing about these scare stories is that, well, most of these nightmare apocalyptic scenarios never ever actually happen.
Now I'm not saying that scare stories are exaggerated in the slightest. They're invariably based on cast-iron facts, with just perhaps a sprinkling of "informed opinion" from some, ahhh, rent-a-quote specialist.
But nevertheless: almost all of the time, the world just keeps serenely spinning on its axis.
As it will do - I confidently predict - in November during the US Presidential elections.
Trump, King Bogey himself, has not got a prayer of becoming president.
Here's why: over the last year, he has spouted so much utter bollocks that he has managed to alienate not just the entire Hispanic vote but almost every woman in America. He makes a lot of noise, a hell of a noise, and the Red Necks love him, but this man is unelectable.
You're not going to sell many newspapers by saying that. "Sorry folks - this bogeyman is dead in the water!" That won't sell newspapers! It won't get people watching your TV shows - or clicking onto your news stories.
But - like all the best scare stories - what will sell very very well indeed is a story that Hillary Clinton's campaign is in freefall. Or that Clinton is about to drop dead from pneumonia. Or, say, that Trump has some atomic skeleton-in-the-Clinton-cupboard that he will unleash on his fellow Americans three weeks before election day.
If those type of scare stories are a bit too racy for an editor's taste, they can always fall back on the classic "poll", which will invariably show that Clinton's figures are tanking, while Teflon Trump's campaign is picking up speed.
And that's all fair enough, because that is the very nature of scare stories. Big scares mean big sales and big-big click-bait.
As a reformed tabloid reporter I'm used to it. When I read these scare stories now, I can see the puppet strings behind the scenes.
But in the last couple of weeks I've realised that some people are actually taking these Trump scare stories seriously. They're believing them! They really think that Trump is going to be President.
They must be scared shitless!
Honestly - these damn Trump scare stories need a health warning on them! Because even though they're delivered by respectable newspapers and reputable web-sites, their sole purpose is to give you the same sort of ice-cube-down-the-back thrill that you used to get when you were aged seven and being read Hansel and Gretel.
Thing is though that when you were told the story of Hansel and Gretel, it was never meant to give you nightmares! It was a bit of spice before you went to bed.
And that is precisely how all Trump scare stories should be viewed. They are fairy stories about a big bogeyman who's intent on taking over the world. (It's quite a common theme in James Bond films, I understand).
But can we please, please just start treating these Trump scares ("He's coming! He's coming soon to a mall near you!") with the same reverence that we treat our favourite Grimms fairy tales.
They may make your palms a bit sweaty, they may raise the hairs at the back of the neck, but please don't ever forget that they are merely fairy stories, written to terrify and to amuse, but above all, written to be read by the masses.
Donald the Bogeyman Trump is not going to become President any time soon. So instead of worrying about this particular fairy story, people might at least worry about something that could feasibly happen - like, say, The Donald's telegenic daughter Ivanka having a run for President.
Ivanka Trump for President in 2028 - and all funded by her deranged father from the confines of his padded cell in the local lunatic asylum? Now that IS a scary thought!Suggest a correction