Watching the paint dry on the walls of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's townhouse
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 Franklin Street stakeout is still yielding results for the Post: "MAID MEN" reads the knockout-white main text, while a picture of the $50,000-a-month Tribeca townhouse in which ex-I.M.F. chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is serving out his house arrest awaiting trial on sexual assault charges sits in the lower-left corner of the story's field. The dek reads: "DSK hires all-guy staff to tidy up townhouse"; on the right, the story leads off the front with a small picture of D.S.K. at the top.
And, yes, this is a stakeout story: The only evidence the Post presents for its contention that all the maintenance staffers on the building are male are two men seen sweeping the stoop, polishing windows, taking out trash and laundry and delivering a Netflix movie to the mailbox. If the Post had a tip that in fact the family deliberately hired no women to staff the house, one imagines the paper might have presented it. (Toward the end the paper issues a "no comment" from D.S.K.'s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman. I suppose he could have confirmed the story on background but that would be a pretty odd lookout for his client.) If the stakeout finds women in black-and-white French-maid uniforms coming out of the house today, I wonder what they'll do?
OK, maybe this isn't the biggest D.S.K. news; we've pointed out before that house arrest does not make fora very compelling storyline, but there are only two more weeks the paper has to keep the story alive before a trial makes it eventful again. In the meantime, D.S.K. fronts need some shoring up, and today that's provided dutifully by Snooki of "Jersey Shore" fame, who had a fender bender with the wrong people last night: two police officers in a patrol car in Florence, where the show was taping. There were lots of ways to go with this: Snooki's a smash hit in Italy, maybe, or Hit Woman. But those would be complimentary, and playing along with "Jersey Shore" means pointing out that the characters are losers. So we get "Snooki's a wreck in Italy."
Another box refers you to Yankees coverage: They're back in first place! So, "Yanks for the memories." At least there's a new guy to talk about these days: Bartolo Colon is turning into a dark-horse hero for the team, having been bought off the Dominican League bench at a bargain-basement price, he's consistently doing stuff like pitching complete-game victories, as he did last night against the Oakland A's.
Daily News: The D.S.K. story makes a subtler appearance on the front page of the News today, with charges an Egyptian banker sexually assaulted a maid at the Pierre: "ANOTHER MAID ATTACKED," reads the yellow all-caps in a red skybox on the upper left. "COPS NAB EGYPTIAN BIZMAN IN SEX ABUSE AT SWANKY PIERRE HOTEL," reads the dek in white. But the top billing goes to yet another case of sexual assault, also on the Upper East Side: "MONSTER," reads the white text over the red box in the main-story part of the page beneath the flag. "Brute sexually assaults, robs woman, 85, in tony East Side neighborhood." The picture is of a police officer standing guard next to a taped-off crime scene, the below-grade stoop of a brownstone, where an elderly woman out for a walk around 5:30 in the morning in the East 80s was dragged by an attacker who sexually assaulted her and stole a ring. His image has been promulgated by police, and on the front page the News has inset a screenshot from surveillance video showing the man dragging the woman down the stoop. Her image is blacked out of the photo. In this case, since the crime is pretty much on tape, the attacker will have little choice but to 'fess up if the police do their job of identifying him from the surveillance footage.
Observations: It's certainly a depressing amount of sex crime on the fronts today, the News more disturbing than the Post, and with more real news. D.S.K. is the star criminal of the Post right now, but there are real crimes to report on today, and the Post has decided to bury them inside the paper this morning. The "why" of that is predictable: The Post is not the workingman's paper, and D.S.K.'s star quality outshines that of these other criminals, even the rich and fancy Egyptian. After all, he wasn't about to be president of France, was he? But I think this stakeout on Franklin Street is being dragged just a little too far, like a tiny lump of fancy imported butter scraped over too much toast.
Winner: Daily News.