11:54 am Aug. 31, 2012
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?
Dirty Harry interrogates 'Obama'
If Clint Eastwood hadn't taken the stage last night at the Republican National Convention, it still might have made the front page of today's New York Post, despite the fact that, as we have noted previously, the paper is not particularly kindly disposed toward his candidacy.
But the surprise appearance of Clint Eastwood makes last night at the convention not just a national political story but a Hollywood story. Replace "convention" and "surprise speech" with "Beverly Hills party" and "meandering rant," and Eastwood might have gotten the wood for the same 11 minutes of Obama-bashing anyway.
The story inside does the typical thing—reeling out references to famous Eastwood movie lines as it tumbles along—and ends with the requisite spin-room reaction from both the Romney and Obama sides. But along the way we're treated to a rhetorical slant that is less than reverent toward Dirty Harry.
His "meandering monologue," the paper points out, kept going like a "vaudeville act" after the red light started blinking and the TelePrompTer went blank; the reporters have reference to "his gray hair tussled." (Here's the speech: judge for yourself.)
The writers are in on a slightly different joke from the one Eastwood, who is in talks to appear in the third installment of the Expendables franchise alongside fellow Republican action figure Arnold Schwarzenegger, thinks he's in.
That the treatment on the cover is far more credulous is just business. Wows and chuckles don't mix well here, where you have to make a big-impact sale, so the paper goes for wow. "FEELIN' LUCKY, PUNK?" reads the text beneath a picture of Eastwood talking to an imaginary Obama signified by an empty chair. More text reads "Mitt gets 'Dirty' on Obama."
The article text leads out of a little box with a picture of Mitt Romney that seems picked as a "surprise" face. Perhaps Romney's spin-room flack said it best: "Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work,” he tells the Post, which describes him a "preparing for criticism from the routine." Which is why Col Allan used a different lens altogether.
Hip-hop mogul suicide
Apparently Eastwood did not have the same effect on the normally (these days, anyway) celebrity-obsessed Daily News, which decides instead to go big on the story of hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty. (Inside the paper, a helpful column by Vibe editor Datwon Thomas almost seems like an apology for assuming that we've heard of Lighty before.) It's a sad story: Lighty, a longtime manager who worked with the likes of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Diddy, Ja Rule and Mariah Carey, is in the midst of a divorce, and showed up at his estranged wife's house yesterday.
He walked away from an argument after declaring “I’m tired of this,” and then shot himself in the head behind his South Riverdale home about 11:30 a.m., the sources said.
Perhaps Lighty's biggest victory was to make rapper 50 Cent a millionaire many tens of times over: Early on he negotiated an equity stake in Glaceau, makers of Vitamin Water, which turned into a massive fortune when the company was bought by Coca Cola.
"HIP-HOP HORROR" reads the knockout-white text over a picture of Lighty and his wife in happier times. "Mogul behind Diddy, Mariah & 50 Cent kills self in Bronx during spat with wife." The paper gives two pages to the story.
An old friar's theories about seduction
It's actually kind of old news, what the zany Rev. Benedict Groeschel told a Catholic newspaper Monday: that sometimes unstable older men are "seduced" by kids who are 14, 16 or 18 years old. To Catholics who follow the local church closely he is well-enough known as a frequent and ardent critic of depictions of Catholicism in popular media (though he is not the newspaper's go-to guy the way the Catholic League spokesman is); and though he is not a diocesan priest under the control of the archdiocese or the archbishop, because he is the founder of a local order of Capuchin friars, he is employed through his order at 1011 First Avenue as the director of the Office for Spiritual Development for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. So what he says can pretty rightly be assumed an embarrassment to the archdiocese.
But how much does it matter? Not much. Groeschel doesn't have much say in how the church handles accusations of sexual abuse. He just has lots of books, radio shows and a pulpit from which to preach his increasingly bizarre points of view on the matter, which he admits himself: "My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be," he said in his apology. He also was hit by a car in 2004 and lost all bodily functions for 20 minutes. The near-death experience became a subject for him in lectures, radio appearances and interviews and a spirituality book.
Mostly, it's an old News practice of writing up obscure happenings and scandals in the Catholic Church, which many of its outer-borough readers attend regularly and pay attention to.
Well, the relative obscurity of Chris Lighty doesn't hold a candle to Clint Eastwood of course. Readers may be disappointed in how straight the Post actually played Eastwood's bizarre appearance—couldn't they have had more fun?—but the cover is promising. And, to my mind, the two boxes on the left of the News are like an apology for taking up as much space as they did with the Lighty story.
Winner: New York Post.