A dead-end for LiLo, a ‘little death’ for Cameron, and an ecumenical response to Pete Kingism

Today's tabloids, March 7, 2011. ()
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Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?

The New York Post: You could be forgiven for believing that the surveillance tape from the Los Angeles store from which actress Lindsay Lohan is accused of having stolen a $2,500 necklace actually proves she didn't steal it—despite the fact that prosecutors must have reviewed the tape before bringing charges against her—from reading today's headline on the Post: "Jewelry 'heist' video may free LiLo."

In fact all that's happened is that the boutique has sold a copy of the tape for $35,000, according to Radar Online, to 'Entertainment Tonight,' which will air it tonight. Sources tell the Post the sale of the tape could help bolster Lohan's claim that she was only borrowing the necklace, and that the store sought money and infamy from the exchange. We'll see. I don't think, if it really shows her stealing it, that the bad manners of the store-owners will really be on trial. What's more: Whatever sentence Lohan gets if she's convicted, the tape will undoubtedly have the effect on her that a similar tape had on Winona Ryder, which was to put her on ice for quite a while. It may be time for Lohan to strike up a friendship with John Waters for a few years of smart, farcical typecasting that could bring about a comeback with more dignity than the reality-television circuit can offer. Just one idea for her.

Anyway, though the "LiLo" story gets the top of the page and a pretty big treatment, it's the heavy type at the bottom that gives weight to the page. "SKY ANXIETY" read the enormous black letters. "NY air control's alarming errors." Billed as an exclusive with a little red strip, the lede paragraph sets out the story: Federal Aviation Administration statistics show that area airports make double the national average in mistakes that can lead to a mid-air collision. (Other possibilities: just plain HIGH ANXIETY; FEAR OF FLYING; FLIGHT RISK, which is the current choice to lead nypost.com. Spirit of the staircase?) It's big, because it's supposed to be big, and we'll see if it leads to anything: speeches or a review from the Port Authority or something. I'm guessing not.

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What to do with the suggestive Page Six gossip that had Cameron Diaz all but "canoodling" with Jude Law at the Vanity Fair Oscars party? Well, sometimes today's gossip is tomorrow's refuted gossip, if Diaz looking star-struck in Kissimmee as she watches A-Rod hit his first home run of the spring training season is a refutation. "FIRST A-BOMB TICKLES CAMERON" reads the little white type over the blue box with insets of both paramours. No refutation necessary (or, probably, wanted—by readers or editors).

Daily News: Things are much more serious over on this end of the newsstand.

"FEAR FIGHT" reads the headline. A picture of a group of Muslim protesters and sympathizers flooding Times Square in response to Rep. Peter King's spearheading of investigations into "homegrown" radical Islamism. "Today, they're targeting Muslims. Tomorrow, it will be Jews. Tomorrow, they'll close a synagogue," a 57-year-old perfumer from Bay Shore, L.I., told the News rather sweetly. I get the sentiment but really, there are a few tomorrows left before the U.S. government "closes" a synagogue.

The dek is handled in bullet points below the photo—which is meant to evoke the size of the crowd but is somewhat of a wash for not finding a lead character to focus on, besides the postage-stamp-sized inset photo of our jowly Republican representative. The first bullet: "King: Terror threat 'more from within.'" Then: "Muslims: His hearings target all of us." (Again, if they did, they would not be offensive. Right? But we get the message, from the rally the News keeps calling "interfaith," and about which they  repeatedly stress the presence of "Muslims, Christians and Jews.") It's funny, actually: Where … ahem … another paper might clumsily or even somewhat intentionally disregard the demographics of the crowd, the News keeps emphasizing them. What's the angle? Or is it purely journalism after all?

It's a much bigger sell than anything on the Post today but that doesn't mean it's quite a full-pager. In addition to a skybox touting the endless promotional contests the paper offers, there's one touting a book excerpt from 56, about Joe DiMaggio's long and record-breaking streak. Three parts from Kostya Kennedy of Sports Illustrated; will it crack the front all three days?

Observations: If it's a bit of an apples and oranges day today then we really have to stick to our guns on what we think will move more papers and put aside the fact that the Peter King vs. the Muslims story is really much more compelling and important. Can it beat out a slightly dishonest sale of a Lindsay Lohan story, a Spring Training box with a pretty girl in it, and an "Exclusive" that essentially tells you a plane could hit your building at any moment whether we have "homegrown terrorists" or not? 

Winner: The New York Post.