Scare quotes return for ‘rape cop’ victim story; Yanks get something called a Bronx jeer

Today's tabloids, June 1, 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: I was frankly surprised this morning not to see coverage of Anthony Weiner's remarks to reporters yesterday on the cover of the Post. An article detailing the young beauties who populate the select group of 198 Twitter accounts followed by the congressman is the "most popular" story on the newspaper's website right now and the article is the "default" story in the homepage carousel of features at the top of the page, with a red starburst inviting readers to "watch the video" in which Weiner essentially filibustered reporters asking some pretty basic questions: why, if his Twitter account was hacked as he claims, he has not spoken to the police about conducting an investigation; whether the picture of an erect penis sheathed in grey boxer-briefs that was sent to one of his followers was actually a photo of him; why he'd retained a lawyer in the matter. The press session is similarly all over television this morning, though for instance on "Morning Joe" it was dealt with in a segment called "News You Can't Use." Jon Stewart did a segment on it last night in which the support he showed for the congressman (his former roommate) was limited to his saying he "hoped" Weiner hadn't done it.

Could the New York Post, in print at any rate, be indulging the congressman in his request that the press stop gratifying his "hacker" by continuing to cover the story?

But of course, it isn't a slow news day on stories the Post has been using its front page to beat its drums about: Yesterday the woman who alleged that one New York City cop raped her, while another acted as a lookout, issued a statement about the not-guilty verdict in the case. It's stirring and complex, and more judicious than much of the opinion the Post has printed about the verdict, in fact. Which is why the paper prints the statement in full. (Read it here.)

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A small detail interests me about the coverline, "COP 'RAPE' VICTIM TELLS: 'The verdict brought me to my knees.'" The return of the scare-quotes around the word "rape," picked up and dropped several times in coverlines during the trial, might or might not be significant. It would be difficult for a newspaper to continue to just call officers Mata and Moreno "rape cops" without the scare quotes after they'd been found not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. But we'll be watching their treatment of the word during the course of the $57 million civil proceeding the victim has brought against the officers and the city … as long as it goes to court and isn't settled by the city. Whether that will happen is difficult to say: On one hand the city doesn't exactly have that kind of money to throw around. On the other, the ex-officers certainly don't, and after dismissing them from the Police Department on the grounds of their convictions on lesser professional misconduct charges in this trial and making their disdain clear in the strongest terms, can the city really settle a case out of court on the two former policemen's behalf?

Daily News: With today's News I was a little less surprised at the lack of Weiner jokes or coverage—but a little shocked to see that instead they gave almost the entire front to a Sports Illustrated poll of major-league baseball players to determine who was the most "overrated." "BRONX JEERS!" reads the headline.

Let's begin there: Is the News aware that a Bronx cheer is an ironic nickname for blowing a raspberry, and was coined to describe derisive fans in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium? So, the fact that three Yankees topped the poll means that other major-league baseball players are giving them a BRONX CHEER. It's like some kind of anti-ironic un-pun in the headline here. What a mess. The page is messy, too: The text is floating above a pinstripe background, and the dek reads "Jealous nitwits rip Yankees stars in player poll."

Completely unaccountably, a second day of coverage of the World Health Organization's link of cell-phone use to glioma, a sort of brain cancer, cracks the front today, too. A red bar across the top of the page right under the flag reads in yellow text (making our third primary color on the page today): "IS YOUR CELL PHONE KILLING YOU?" Since the inside story is actually a set of guidelines for how to minimize the risks associated with cell-phone use and ranking the top seven cell-phone models for the amount of radiation they emit, it's actually an undersell: A servicey follow-up billed as the day one story, a day late.

Observations: It's not much of a contest today. I can understand the Yankees thing might be candy for News readers, but I very much doubt it needed so much of the page, or deserved to be handled so hamfistedly. Couldn't this have been a skybox, with Weiner or the 'rape cop' victim taking up the rest?

Winner: The New York Post.