Prime real estate for Michael Fedorko’s P.A.-police drivers, but at least it’s exclusive

Today's tabloids, Sept. 27, 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: Before she was Marilyn Monroe she was Norma Jean Dougherty, of course, a redhead with a small mouth that made a big smile that stretched to the eyes. She'd become the platinum blonde Hollywood went ape over.

Here she is on the News looking cherubic and distinctly un-tragic, in a bikini with big bold stripes and bows, sitting at the beach with her hair blowing in the wind like some kind of exceptionally well-dressed Naturkind. "BEFORE SHE WAS MARILYN" is all the text says; if you guessed that the piece inside was likely to be pegged to a new tell-all book, though, you'd be wrong. It's really just that an auction house is selling off a series of 80 photos from Monroe's very first photo-shoot, taken by Joseph Jasgur for the Blue Book modeling agency when she was 19.

What a letdown it is, then, to see the mug of Jets coach Rex Ryan to Monroe's right. "REX SACKS NAMATH" reads white text set in a Jets-green box. (Joe Namath yesterday accused Ryan's team of overconfidence; Rex shot back saying he wasn't going to take advice from the football legend. In the greater scheme of things, not the hottest verbal brawl in the game, was it?)

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So that leaves the main news, signaled by the big, heavy black type that reads "GOTCHA!" in Spanish. Oh no, sorry! It reads "iGOTCHA!" Am I the only one that thought this was just foreign punctuation? The story is that a spike in subway crime, attributable mostly to increased theft of digital devices like tablets, smartphones and e-readers, is getting a big response from the New York Police Department. An unspecified number of additional cops will be assigned to the subways now, drawn from above-ground precincts and housing authority cops, under Operation Total Impact. Fun fact: Much more crime occurs on subways than on platforms.

The New York Post: '60s sex kittens give way to the modern-day edition, with actor Anne Hathaway presently filming her performance of Catwoman. The gig puts her in a line that has included Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry. It's actually not as wild as many: Head-to-toe skintight black leather with matching carnival mask and stiletto boots. "First photo: Hollywood's new Catwoman" reads yellow text over a blue box in the upper right, with a pointed left side that indicates the full-length photo of Hathaway that runs the length of the lefthand side of the page.

Vintage Hollywood makes a sneak attack on the front page too, though, with a strip across the bottom that reads "$3 million for a pair of shoes!" The shoes in question are one of several pairs worn by Judy Garland in her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Yes, those shoes.

The serious part of today's front is, here too, indicated by the big black type. "RIDE 'N' WRONG" reads the main hed. "PA's top cop promotes his 2 chauffeurs." Billed as an "EXCLUSIVE" in a red strip with white knockout type, and studded with a postage-stamp sized portrait of top Port Authority cop Michael Fedorko, the story goes on to cite anonymous sources saying that Fedorko's chauffeurs were promoted to the rank of sergeant without having to complete all the required competitions. It looks like a small salary bump—around $5,000—but the real money in these jobs is in overtime, and both are now billing their time at sergeants' rates, which means incomes well into the six figures. They snagged two sergeant spots from among 60 candidates vying for the plum ranking. Nobody official is talking, but they soon will have to: The union is filing improper-practices charges against the agency.

Observations: It's strange to have so much Sunset Boulevard karma on the front pages today, isn't it? But to me, it all comes to naught in terms of the competition. I think it's interesting that the Post didn't actually use the ruby slippers to sell this anonymous-looking expensive-shoe story. Maybe it was too much movie costume for one day? But then why not leave the slippers behind altogether?

No, today's competition is between the News' Spanish-punctuation train-crime story and the Post's exclusive about Fedorko. One cares much less about the latter, I suspect, but then it's a much bigger get than the former (which the Post had but left on the inside), and here's a case where we care just enough that "EXCLUSIVE" matters.

Winner: The New York Post.