12:53 pm Aug. 15, 20121
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?
Truth is crappier than "Law & Order: SVU"
Today, the cover of the Post looks like it was ripped from a cheap television crime drama that was ripped from the headlines; in that game of telephone, the true story just comes out—kinda crappy.
We've been talking here about the dangers for the Post now that former News of the World editor Colin Myler is at the top of the rival News: Previously, it wasn't particularly high-mindedness but a perception that the paper was tailored to middle-class outer-boroughs mores that kept the News away from fronting the most salacious crime stories and the most downmarket celebrity gossip. So the Post could always go one step further than the News without making itself unpalatable to the city power elite it delights in being read by.
Today's cover seems to suggest that the Post is being nudged a little further along now: It sells us a sad piece about the breakdown and arrest of a woman who spent three years as a live-in submissive to a New York banker, Edward Sonderling, who was a fixture in the city's fetish scene.
A reference to the best-selling soft-core erotic S&M series "Fifty Shades" classes up the joint: A college professor with a gray silk tie makes a more upscale meal than an overdeveloped, teeth-whitened banker with bad hair who likes to wear latex bodysuits and spank bare-chested girlfriends with horsetail whips. The big shock of the cover is really that the guy is in his 50s.
As it stands, the thing is just one shade too dark and downmarket for the Post's favorite readers in 4 Times Square and the owners' boxes and the high-floor boardrooms of Midtown. Evidence: Max Read appears to be performing forced labor when linking to it on Gawker (although his commenters were the first to find the MySpace page where there are supposedly a million more pictures of the banker in fetish gear. They are all practically safe for work: have a ball here).
Meanwhile, a likely gas explosion obliterated a house on Long Island, killing one 18-month old and injuring more than a dozen others. This is a fairly straightforward sell, isn't it? There's tragedy, and there's the freakishness of it: A suburban home spontaneously blown to smithereens, with the aerial photos to prove it. It's really a photography cover: Zero injuries and it would be almost unaltered, I believe. "GONE." But the picture of the mother and baby is heart wrenching.
I don't have much to say: Both papers were certainly grabby! But somehow, the Post's reach for the crotch results more in a vague nausea than the kind of energy required to slap its face; the News gives us something less surprising, and more important.
Winner: Daily News.