9:54 am Aug. 12, 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?
The New York Post: My favorite paragraph in The New York Post's story about PBS issuing a statement saying that Bert and Ernie of "Sesame Street" are not gay is this one:
The very fact that the producers felt it necessary to educate their viewers about the non-sex lives of puppets demonstrates the extent of the mad online debate that captivated bloggers who had nothing better to worry about while Wall Street was going crazy.
I enjoy it so much because right there, on the front of the Post (which today makes no mention of the Dow's uptick yesterday) at the very top of the page is a thick blue bar with a silhouetted picture of the two muppets (Ernie with his rubber ducky, and his arm around roomate Bert) alongside text that reads "'Sesame' wed furor." The dek: "Bert & Ernie just pals, show insists."
Of course people only "insist" when they are saying something implausible; otherwise they just "say." (For what it's worth I am thrilled that PBS acknowledges that not every character has to be given a sexual orientation, a lesson J.K. Rowling might have benefited from before she "insisted" that wizard Dumbledore was gay, without having taken the opportunity to write that down in seven interminably long books.)
But the statement from PBS is as absurd as the case for the muppets being gay. Of course they are just puppets. But it is not as though it would not be in the power of the producers to make Bert and Ernie gay: They only have to say it. Otherwise it's as absurd as those authors who insist that their characters write themselves and guide themselves through their own plots, as though the novelist is just making a recording.
Phew! Getting out of there was hard, but even harder is parsing what's happening in the story of the Jet Blue Pisser. It's hard for me to picture exactly how things unfolded on the red-eye flight in which U.S. Olympic ski hopeful Sandy Vietze was found urinating on the leg of an 11-year-old girl, except that he was drunk and apologized on the spot. That is, he attempted to apologize to the girl's father. He did not attempt to apologize to reporters who followed him home to Vermont, which is what makes him "unapologetic" now. Remember, it's not enough to apologize directly to someone you have peed on; you must apologize to reporters who come to your door afterwards. Mental note! "PEE NUT" reads the heavy black text on the piece, which is clearly meant to serve as the news lede today.
Also Robinson Cano did good stuff against the Angels last night. He looks pretty thrilled as he waves to the stands, text across his middle reading "Yanks, Cano slam-tastic!" in celebration of Cano's grand slam.
Daily News: Remember what we said about apologizing? Levi Aron, accused in the murder of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky of Borough Park refused, it seems, to apologize to the Daily News in a jailhouse interview that apparently didn't go so well. The at-times slurry, brink-of-schizophrenia (according to his attorneys) man is after all on 24-hour suicide watch. It's hardly surprising that his interview, which lasted an hour, yielded so little. He explained how he only remembers parts of what he calls "the incident," in which he administered a fatal dose of drugs to the boy, smothered him with a pillow and then dismembered his body, according to police. In all, as crazy as he may be, he does not appear to have said anything to the News that would affect his plea or that could be used against him in court. Crazy like a fox?
The rest of the page is "WAY TO GO, CANO!," and it is very, very big.
Observations: "PEE NUT" is pretty good, but I think however poorly sold, a jailhouse interview with one of New York's most hated alleged killers rates as a must-read, if anything does. Sure, the Post is altogether more fun today with its mix of peeing ski stars and bases-clearing home runs and Muppet-dish. But it's all rehash, and I think it shows.
Winner: Daily News.