3:16 pm Sep. 24, 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?
Thrillers, laffers, and straight-up messes
I'm too new to the world of sports media to have a long history with trade words like "thriller" and "laffer" and the like. But I'm not sure there's a single word that captures yesterday's face-off between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. There are lots of them.
From the Post article: "ugly, ugly," "slop-fest," "poor," "deficient," "terrible," "poor." But if you only looked at the Post front page this morning you'd have had no idea what an embarrassing mess the game was for the Jets, despite the fact that they came away with a victory.
"JETS WIN OT THRILLER" reads the text, over a picture of Mark Sanchez. "SEE SPORTS."
At least the News made a more accurate sale. They choose a picture of Nick Folk, whose kick was the game winner ultimately, and text that reads "GREAT ESCAPE" and "Sloppy Jets beat Dolphins in OT." With the news arriving later that Darrelle Revis had indeed torn his ACL and will be out the rest of the season, there was even less to celebrate.
The big mermaid
Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan's ABC sitcom "Modern Family" was a big winner at the Emmys last night, gathering its third outstanding comedy award in as many years. And though Colombian bombshell Sofía Vergara didn't win for best actress in a comedy, she stole the show in her floor-length green-sequined mermaid-style Zuhair Murad gown with a cutout back and incredibly generous décolletage.
So "GREEN WITH EMMY" isn't quite what I'd call Vergara last night. And with a choice between showing us a full-length Vergara from the front (busty!) or the back (sexy cutout at the small of the back!) the News goes with a little bit of each, which is to say not quite enough of either. Plenty of (admittedly slightly less gorgeous) people actually won awards last night, didn't they? And if we're gonna get Vergara because her outfit made news (which it did), then why not show us the, er, news-making moments in all their glory?
But the main news feature today on the cover of the News—identifiable by its placement (lower right) and its type treatment (big black text on white)—is another entry in the Bloomberg's-New York-as-nanny-state storyline. "DIET, STAT!" reads the big black text, next to a closeup of a vending machine selling Skittles, M & Ms and the like. "Bloomberg's new target: Junk food in hospitals." This is a bit of an oversell. Really, the city hospitals have already gotten rid of the junk food in their vending machines. But a recommendation from the mayor to the city's private health care institutions is asking them to match city hospitals on a volunteer basis, and they seem to be biting. It's not very controversial, except for the people waiting for their friends to come out of the E.R. in stitches who could really just use a jolt of caffeine and sugar to wake up for the car ride home. (A couple of whom are interviewed inside the paper.)
But the Post gives the News a serious run for its money in the news department, with a piece they, too, bill as an exclusive on the bottom half of the front page. "SILVER 'FOX'" reads the knockout-white type over a black field. "'Gal' behind Shel in sex ca$e is a guy!"
Here's what they are talking about: A commenter on various websites a very small number of Post readers read has been defending Sheldon Silver over accusations he should have handled the Vito Lopez sexual-harassment claims differently, specifically by not hiding the fact that a settlement was arranged that handed over taxpayer money to Lopez's accusers in order to keep them quiet. The handle of the commenter, Sophia Walker, belongs to a blogger with a weird website. The weird website was called out on Twitter as the handiwork of ... a male aide to Sheldon Silver. So in other words a Silver staffer is commenting anonymously and defending his boss (!) and the commenter's internet handle appears to be a woman's name.
I can't figure out why this would be front-page news. And I spent time on Sophia Walker's website, The Last Goddess, which I can never have back again, just in case the story was actually more important than it looked. One moment of amusement came when, answering his door to a post reporter, the Silver aide claimed that Sophia Walker was a real person, "She’s a woman who lives in London. She’s a strange and reclusive character."
It almost seems as if the Post's editors are under orders to keep up the pressure on the weaker-than-usual Assembly speaker every day, even when real-life news doesn't hand them an actual story.
The papers line up nicely today actually. Two discountable "news" exclusives, of which the Post's is the less interesting; two Jets pieces, of which the Post's sale is the more misleading; and Sofia Vergara.
Winner: Daily News.