11:00 am Sep. 20, 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?
Was I the only one completely puzzled by the Post's decision this morning to give the entire front page to a public art installation in Columbus Circle? It's nice, visually (we did our own version of a "spread" on it which you can read here), but it seems like an awfully minor and un-buzzy thing for the Post's entire front page. "HELLO SAILOR" is great of course, and the idea of a giant Christopher Columbus standing on top of the coffee table in a well-appointed living room with park views makes a great picture. But still.
Mitts are off
I can't tell whether Joel Siegel, the new managing editor for politics at the Daily News, is actually at work yet. But he's a veteran New York and national politics reporter and is likely to bring a smart strategy to the paper's election coverage.
Today's front-page story on Mitt Romney has the forgivable overemphasis of the tabloid—"MITT MUTINY" suggests a revolt of the Republican base, when that's not really evident—but they're right to make a big deal out of it. It's not so much that Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, represents the mainstream of Republican voters (though she represents a sizable portion of its coastal elites, I think, at least emblematically); nor do Massachusetts senator Scott Brown or New Mexico governor Susana Martinez represent the party's national base. But officials who rely on support from moderates are precisely the people who run for the exits first; as one person put it to me, "they're useful as canaries."
If this were a paper with room on the cover for subtlety, that point—that whatever is going to happen to the Romney campaign as a result of his time-wasting poor performance is starting now—could have been be the focus.
As it stands, this is still a smart package. Readers will feel well served if the instincts of the political staff at the News prove right in the coming weeks.
Denis Hamill has been in favor of what is now called the Barclays Center since the site was little more than a patch of weeds, and the apartments and other buildings surrounding it were still fighting off an eminent domain claim that would result in their destruction in order to build Bruce Ratner's billion-dollar Nets arena. So it comes as little surprise that Hamill should wax poetic on the eve of its ribbon-cutting.
It's a little galling that a guy whose only real angle on this all along has been getting a professional home team to Brooklyn, and to whom no cost could seem high enough for the feat, gives us this two-page gloat; it's edifying that Daniel Goldstein gets a column along the left-hand side to announce protests against the arena, opponents of which, having lost the main struggle, remain an important corrective to Ratner's behavior after the arena opens.
Cheap apartments and job creation were part of the deal, and we've seen how, once the big deal is made, these little community details can fall out of the package. Goldstein's land battle is over, but Ratner and Jay-Z and the Nets have the opportunity to decide whether this is a forever-war with Brooklyn or the carefree, happy boon to all Brooklynites Hamill has convinced himself (from a safe distance in Bayside, Queens, where he now lives) that it will be.
Lilo and stitches
"Lindsay in NYC hit-&-run" reads the pale yellow text today over a smallish picture of Lindsay Lohan. The dispute between her and a restaurant worker who says he hit her with his car then ran off, will be, for watchers of Lohan's career, a test of whether she continues to drink and drive. The restaurant worker says she reeked of alcohol and was disoriented. The really important thing for Lohan, who was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident, is whether this arrest constitutes a violation of her probation. So far, the New York Police Department certainly seems not to be overzealous in its prosecution of Lohan. Department sources confirmed to the paper that they don't believe she was intoxicated when she clipped the restaurant worker with her car then backed out and drove off.
That Christopher Columbus public-art exhibit is not a full front-page takeover. Less so even for the Post than the News. Is the Post losing its oomph? That would be bad for them, just as the News seems to be picking up new energy (and staff) under its new editor. This tabloid entente is getting interesting.
Winner: Daily News.