Donald Trump has a big head; Knicks nicked, knocked, knackered

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Today's tabloids, Tax Day, 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:  The problem comes up a lot for the Post with Donald Trump, since they so like to cut a silhouette (often in profile) of major figures and place them on a black field so they can lay heavy knockout-white type on top: How to trace the contours of Trump's cotton-candy spool of hair? The result on the front page today is some very good work in Photoshop, but was probably a painstaking endeavor. So—kudos?

The other problem with Trump is how to avoid letting him take over your front page forever. The man will say anything, and each day brings something new, which starts to feel old. Will the tab fronts still love him tomorrow?

Then again, restraint is no more the watchword of a tabloid newspaper than it is for Trump, so let's just go with it for today. "$IZE MATTERS" reads the main he'd at the bottom of the black field that takes up most of the page. Explanation? "The Donald's pitch to GOP: I'm richer than Mitt." It's a funny one since, famously, Trump evades questions about the extent of his personal wealth and the profitability of his many endeavors. With a more normal candidacy you'd take this "pitch" as evidence he'd sorted those numbers out and they're sure to pass muster. But in the case of the man tabloids affectionately (and compliantly) call "The Donald" any a$$umption$ are dangerou$.

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Of course we couldn't get out of the tabloid war today without touching on the Knicks' loss to the Boston Celtics yesterday. The short strip gets the full width of the page; the blue field and the large main hed make up for the short stature of the box, though. "Knicks nicked," reads the hed (no awards there, but: fine). "Lose heartbreaker to Celts."

Daily News: The News makes more of a meal of the thing, with a large box under the flag (though the heads of Celtic Kevin Garnett and Knick Amar'e Stoudemire pop above the crop of the big game photo they've used). The type is in knockout with drop-shadow over the photo, in an odd choice of condensed all-cap type that seems to rob it of its urgency. Not that the text itself seems to require it: "MASS. MISS" is not much of an improvement over "Knicks nicked."

Maybe the page could have been redeemed with a big news story, but instead there's a rather abstract sale at the bottom third of the page: "GOSSIP GUYS," an obviously feminizing reference (via the TV show "Gossip Girls") to Vincent Basciano and Joseph Massino, the latter a boss of the Bonanno crime family who turned ratty and taped conversations with the former, his handpicked successor and set-up victim. Since these tapes were already on hand last week, why is this on the cover today? No reason, except that the News has found this angle on some of the stuff that was too mundane to come out in court. And this angle amounts to comparing them to "two old washerwomen." Right! You know those washerwomen and how they talk! Or … nevermind, I've never met a "washerwoman," have you?

I'd give them something here if they'd misled us about there being something new in the tapes, but they didn't even have quite the courage of their convictions to do that.

Observations: Ugh. Pretty much any day of the week you can have an outrageous Donald Trump cover, and any time since last week you could have gone with Gayfellas. The Knicks story is a dud on both fronts. But for the marginal news value of Trump's pitch to the G.O.P., and holding my nose, I don't have much hesitation today.

Winner: The New York Post.