7:53 am Jun. 6, 2011
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?
Daily News: The Yankees beat the Angels 5 to 3, and now it's on to battle the Red Sox in a home game tomorrow. "PSYCHED FOR SOX" reads the small yellow headline on a blue box featuring a partially silhouetted picture of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in mid-high-five.
It's about half of the front-page story-selling space. (The paper takes its usual space above the flag to highlight a business promotion; it's been the BE A WINNER! Caribbean vacation on and off for weeks now.) The rest is devoted to Rep. Anthony Weiner's absence from two parades this weekend that he normally attends: The Celebrate Israel parade and the Queens gay pride parade and fest. "WHERE'S WEINER" is probably not meant to be a "WHERE'S WALDO" joke (I mean, right?), and a matter-of-fact dek reads just "SKIPS CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE." You wouldn't know from this treatment that the paper gives a full two-page spread to the story (though it advertises "PAGES 4-5") with a running hed that reads "IN A PICKLE," the News' ongoing rubric for coverage of Weinergate. There's a Mike Lupica column that's a bit of a snooze and seems to be a Weiner Week in Review with scattered commentary; Celeste Katz rather cleverly interviews Roger Stone, whose own towel-clad romp back in his days working as a strategist for Bob Dole qualifies him to give his usual counterintuitive advice (he seems to be the only person who believes that the best thing for Weiner is if the real story is never discovered conclusively; he's right, of course, only if Weiner really did send a picture of himself in his skivvies to a Washington college student).
The main news story just goes to the parades and collects quotes from three famous people and various man-in-the-street types: New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg ("He ought to be here"); likely 2013 mayoral challenger Bill Thompson ("It has become a circus. Every answer raises another question"); and Gov. Andrew Cuomo ("… the people will have an opinion when they actually have the facts.") To me it's one of those cases where the real news is that Andrew Cuomo seems to be cutting Weiner dead here.
But hey wait a minute: let's take a look at some of these headlines. "Kick in the jackass," "What a li'l wiener," "in a pickle"; is the News above bad penis puns? And if so, why bother leading the paper with the Congressman?
The New York Post: Inside, the Post actually gives Weinergate less real estate than the News, with one and a half pages under the running hed "BATTLE OF THE BULGE." "WEINER IS SHRINKING" reads the hed on the main story (yet another front-page contender, methinks); the quotes are the same as in the News. But where the News flanks its main story with Katz and Lupica, the Post does a little water-carrying for corporate parent News Corp., carrying a write-through of yesterday's story on sister publication The Daily about how it's seeming less and less likely the congressman's Twitter account was hacked.
Weiner is most of the page; the headline, "HIDE THE WEINER," is a total gimme, and has the advantage of being a Weiner-wiener joke that required yesterday's news to work. See, he's hiding! From supporters.
Like the News, the Post tries to drum up a bit of excitement for tomorrow's Red Sox game, but with a more reserved, shorter blue strip across the top: "Tex message: Bring on the Red Sox." (Get it? Tex, as in Teixeira!)
Observations: It's now Day 10 of Weinergate, and the congressman who may or may not have directed a tweet with a picture of what may or may not be his erect penis showing beneath gray boxer briefs is still dominating the front page of the tabloids. To be fair to the congressman, and putting aside all of the underminey advice the papers are soliciting from political consultants (with friends like Roger Stone, who are Weiner's enemies?), the best piece of advice I can give him is to hope that a piece of important news happens soon.
The closest thing to a story inside the Daily News I could see them putting on the front is an exclusive on a male-on-male sexual harassment claim filed by a police sergeant against his superior; but it's thin on details and anyway, if the Post had had it exclusively it might have made the front, but not the News.
The Post really only had a Fred Dicker column about a police bigwig abusing helicopter privileges and the case of Eric Adams, the Brooklyn state senator who reversed his position on charter schools to endorse a suit by the United Federation of Teachers to block the expansion of the charter school program. So, really, Weiner is a victim of circumstance today.
Left with the Weiner story and a curtain-raiser on tomorrow's Yankees game against the hated Red Sox, the tabloids go head-to-head today. On the Yankees, it's a clear win for the News: It's just a bigger treatment. But with so little to work with, the Post was right to keep the Yankees story small and simple and give itself room to do as much as it could with the Weiner story. "HIDE THE WEINER" is the laugh riot of the water cooler today, for sure. "WHERE'S WEINER" hardly registers.
Winner: The New York Post.