11:27 am Aug. 19, 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: Do you know about the "elite quarterback" thing?
It's a theme for a late-summer sports argument. It's not one people care about enough that their arguing might drown out the chriping and buzzing of the cicadas or occasional passing dragonfly at a backyard barbecue; it's just something to make headlines out of for a while while the Yankees and Mets are being predictable midseasonaires.
After Giants quarterback Eli Manning told ESPN he thought he was in the top five to 10 quarterbacks in the National Football League earlier this week, people went slightly wild. The tabloids ran somewhat alarmed headlines and medium-length articles about his qualified, not particularly outrageous brag, which seemed out of character for him.
Yesterday, Jets coach Rex Ryan, who usually rises to this sort of occasion with the relish of a professional-wrestling heel, declined to challenge Manning's self-assessment, only saying in response that his own Mark Sanchez is also maybe an elite quarterback, though not as elite as Eli's older brother Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.
Presumably the debate will continue to simmer, gently, through the end of the summer. The Post definitely does not undersell, giving roughly half of its front page to the story, with big type reading "Eli vs. Sanchez," and a dek that reads "War of the quarterbacks."
"As Conan the Barbarian, Jason Momoa proves less than jab-solutely fabulous," reads the caption to the main huge photo on page 51 of the Post. Huge type in Copperplate (what, no Trajan?) reads "BLADE OF GORY," and he's lunging at your eye with his sword, the grime and dirt outlining the chiseled contours of his enormous sculpted barbarian physique. Kyle Smith gives the move two-and-a-half stars out of four. So it's OK! Why am I talking about the inside? Because Conan's also on the cover.
It says "Conan," in yellow underlined type that tilts upward to the right. And it says "Movie review: Page 51."
"OUCH!" reads the last headline on the page. This is the big, big black type with no art, which means it's the "news" lead on the page. "New PA tolls to hit a staggering $15." This is real news, even if it was a press release yesterday. People will care! It's a lot of money. "New PA tolls will drive commuters to the poorhouse," reads some lede text. "The agency last night reached agreement with Govs. Cuomo and Chris Christie on a package of huge hikes over the next four years."
Daily News: In fact the toll hikes on bridges and tunnels run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is big news for the News, too. Only it's a different story. "GOVS: SLASH TOLL HIKE" reads the huge knockout-white text on a black field.
This seems to suggest that what happened yesterday was that the governors called out the Port Authority and demanded on behalf of all us little people that they bring down their outrageous hike plans. In fact what happened yesterday was that the two governors made up a hike themselves which is maybe marginally less outrageous than an earlier proposal from the P.A., along with a self-protective measure of high dudgeon about the way the Port Authority is run.
Let's not forget that the governors were reportedly aware of that earlier proposal, and that public fury over the size of the hikes, and the fact that the P.A. said they were caused by overruns at Ground Zero, pressured them to try again.
In Andrew Cuomo's case, the goal now is to steer as much outrage as possible toward the generally well-respected P.A. chief Christopher Ward, an independent operator who annoys the governor and whom Cuomo plans to be rid of soon anyway. In Chris Christie's case, it is to blame the P.A. in such a way that he appears to fighting for the put-upon citizens of New Jersey whose tax dollars have been put at the disposal of profligate, overbearing New Yorkers like, well, Chris Ward.
Both governors need to appear very angry and put-upon, which is not a stretch for either of them. But the people who write tabloid headlines are not obliged to aid them in their theatrics.
"PLUS: Outrage as all PA members skip public hearings" reads a red box inside. Again, the Port Authority is a villain being reined in by our leaders. I won't even try to figure out the dek. "Tell board to cut massive $6 increase way back." Inside, I can't figure out where a $6 dollar increase comes into the picture, unless they are calculating what the fare might be four-fifths of the way through the life of the plan? I don't know. (The Post dek says new tolls will hit "$15," because they have chosen the big number, active after 2014, I think.)
Also, Kim Kardashian's getting married. The News takes you "inside" the wedding, which hasn't happened yet.
Observations: The News cover panders and is also boring. It's a lose-lose!
Winner: The New York Post.