I've found instances that the press was aware or suspicious that changes had happened within The Beatles. The really crucial thing in my mind is that the press could have investigated what was happening to The Beatles and, at minimum, let the world public know what they found. They did not--they dropped the ball--and it looks as though several of those Beatles suffered.
Here are three examples of what I found:
1.) In the fan magazine put out by Los Angeles station KRLA, the March 12, 1966 issue has a cover drawing of Paul captioned "The Three Faces of Paul McCartney". (See photo below.)
The article in the magazine talks about Beatle marriages, but the cover drawing isn't followed
up with a story, so it is, essentially, a visual quote without comment.
had the caption: "Ye Olden Tempos -- There was a time when The Beatles weren't even famous. Certainly they have come a long way since the days they were known as, from left: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Peter Best (later replaced by Ringo)."
Again, it was a a visual quote without comment because the article dealt with the current Beatles and made no reference that any of them had been replaced.
5:33-5:36 Girl: Have you ever trained or used Beatle double as decoys?
5:37-5:40 Paul: No. John: No. Paul: No, no. We tried to get Brian Epstein
to do it. He wouldn't do it.
Some people on discussion boards believe that Paul and John of the 1966 tour were our Paul and John but I think they were replacements. (See my post of December 7, 2010: from the photos I looked at in the Bob Bonis collection, our Paul (and John) never made it to America in 1966.)
Care to speculate why the world press left The Beatles hanging?