Oh, and one other thing about the hasty exit of former deputy mayor Stephen Goldsmith ...

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Today's tabloids, Sept. 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?

Daily News: There's a certain kind of story that circulates heavily on slow news days, reverberating through the cable-news cycle and the Internet even though it's a bit of an obscure process story. Such is the story of Barack Obama's accession to Republican House Speaker John Boehner to move his "pivot" speech about jobs, originally planned for next Wednesday, to Sept. 8. Next Wednesday is the night of a scheduled G.O.P. primary debate; but Sept. 8 is the season opener for the National Football league. Hence: "POLITICAL FOOTBALL." It's also spelled out in a dek that reads "Bam OKs GOP plea to shift speech date, but now he's up against NFL opener."

Not content with being late on the Obama-Boehner story, the News decides to spice things up a bit by giving us a candid picture of Minka Kelly, and re-reporting news broken in People that the Charlie's Angels star had split with Yankee Derek Jeter earlier this summer to take up with actor Ramon Rodriguez. "Derek who?" reads the red text outlined in white and drop-shadowed, and set at a jaunty angle. "SEE MINKA'S NEW BF." (BOYFRIEND would have fit, but while we are on the theme of unclassy abbreviations like Bam for the president, we may as well see it through.)

Is it possible that the paper believed it was coming up short? That's usually what it means to me when the News throws lots and lots of stories on the front page. It's as if they hope one of them might stick. So there's a blue snipe across the upper-right hand corner of the flag that reads "RED SOX SINK YANKS SEE SPORTS." And a red box with white text, billed on the bottom as an EXCLUSIVE, that reads "Irene had a little lamb." Actually, a lamb had Irene: On the day before the storm made landfall at Coney Island, animals were being relocated from Central Park Zoo, and one of the lambs was discovered to have given birth to a baby. That's rare because the season for lambs to give birth is usually springtime, so the staff were unprepared; also, moving the newborn and her mother might have upset her nursing, so they just segregated the mother and infant in the pen at the zoo and shored up the building from the storm. The newborn lamb has been named Irene. Can any of the interest contained in this story be understoof from the headline, with no photo, on the cover? No.

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The New York Post: In terms of exclusive, the birth of a lamb in a zoo during a hurricane doesn't much compare to what the Post has. "DEPUTY DOG!" reads the big black text of the main news hed on today's front. "Revealed: Mike aide quit after wife-fight bust." There's a picture of a sort of dorky-looking Stephen Goldsmith, the former deputy mayor for operations who was the face of the Bloomberg administration's Christmas-blizzard failure last year.

Back on Aug. 4, the Times' Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez reported at length on Goldsmith's resignation from his office. Read carefully and literally, the piece does not speculate on the reasons for Goldsmith's departure, but catalogs a history of clashes with higher-ups in several city agencies, including and especially the Department of Santiation. It describes how his academic manner frustrated hardened and experienced pragmatists, and characterized the resignation as a setback for the Bloomberg strategy of bringing fresh blood to his top commissioner-level posts.

In fact, it looks like his resignation followed two days he spent in prison in Washington, D.C. after police responded to a domestic-violence call at his house. The police report details an encounter in which Goldsmith and his wife had a physical altercation during which Goldsmith attempted to destroy a phone to keep his wife from calling the police.

It doesn't contradict what the Times reported, certainly. Goldsmith was in bad odor, and seems never really to have recovered from the botched blizzard-response. And it's possible that Michael Bloomberg, who is fiercely loyal to valued deputies, wouldn't have been so quick to accept this resignation if Goldsmith were, in fact, valued. But the point is that this incident looks like the proximate cause of Goldsmith's exit, and a significant amendment to the previously existing narrative.

What's curious here is that Goldsmith tells the Post on the record that her husband was encouraged by Bloomberg to resign after the incident, but essentially denies the incident took place. Here's the end of the article:

"There was no domestic violence that occurred between my husband and myself," said Margaret, who wedded Stephen in 1988 after prior marriages for both. "Nor has there ever been in the history of the marriage.

"It was a big mistake," she said of his arrest. "I can only tell you it was an enormous misunderstanding. It just got out of control."

She also said, "There was someone else at the home that night." But she refused to identify that person or explain why their presence was significant.

Margaret said her husband was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Anyway, the Post glories in its victory, adding to Goldsmith's on-the-record statements the confirmation of a "source familiar with the situation." "Revealed: Mike aide quit after wife-fight bust," read the dek on the front.

With that bombshell out of the way—robbed of its significance somewhat by the fact that Goldsmith has already been replaced and is nearly a month out of the job—the Post is free to fool around with the rest of the page. "Yanks' mound of troubles" chronicles the Yankees loss to the Red Sox; more puzzling is the "College football Bettors Guide." Mascots for Louisiana State University and University of Georgia add to the strangeness of the sale.

Observations: I think the Post should have given more space to its exclusive, and skyboxed both the Yankees and the bettors' guide sales. But really, there wasn't much the Post could do wrong compared to today's News, which somehow manages a mixture of catty, shallow, late and incomprehensible in the same layout.

Winner: The New York Post.

Correction: The bulldog logo on the cover of the Post belongs of course to the University of Georgia, not Georgetown University, as originally stated here.