Scene: A tabloid newsroom, in the middle of the Petraeus scandal
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?
Scene: A tabloid newsroom. PAGE ONE EDITOR is getting the latest updates from NEWS EDITOR so he or she can decide on a front page.
PAGE ONE EDITOR: So what have you got now?
NEWS EDITOR: OK well so much! Where to start? The F.B.I. agent who was initially tipped off by Jill Kelley about the emails from Paula Broadwell?
P1: We have a picture of him?
P1: We know who he is?
N: No, no! Listen now. Another outlet is reporting that he was taken off the investigation because he sent a shirtless pic of himself to Kelley.
P1: Oh. Were they having an affair?
N: We don't know. I don't think so.
P1: Oh, OK. And we don't have the pic I guess. Anything else?
N: Yes! OK so Kelley exchanged like tens of thousands of emails with this big military dude, hold on. The "top commander in Afghanistan." Name is John Allen ...
P1: Aha! And you have the emails?
N: No. But! The Pentagon is investigating him for "inappropriate communications."
P1: What does that mean?
N: Oh, I'll check. But probably sexy stuff, or maybe sensitive information.
P1: Right, do we know which, or anything else about it?
P1: OK. And what does this have to do with the initial Petraeus story?
N: I don't know, maybe nothing? It's just more.
P1: Right. Anything else?
N: I think. Maybe. Another outlet reported that Broadwell and her husband were on a sweet autumn vacation when news broke of the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus.
P1: That's a nice detail, I guess.
P1: But we were supposed to actually get the emails that Broadwell and Petraeus exchanged. Any love there?
N: Well, a little! We now know that they never actually sent emails because they just used the old terrorist trick where you both have access to an email account and then save emails in the draft folder.
P1: Oh, well, that's something. I don't think it helps me with the front page.
N: Sorry, we're working on it.
P1: What about the text of the threatening emails Broadwell sent to Kelley? Got any of those?
N: No, but another outlet is reporting that in one of them, Broadwell claims to have seen Kelley and Petraeus touching beneath a table.
P1: Touching? What do you mean "touching"?
N: That's all we know.
P1: We don't have a direct quote from the email?
N: No. It's the Daily Beast, quoting an anonymous source who no longer works in intelligence, and he's just describing the emails. Says it's "cat fight stuff" and sort of describes them a bit.
P1: Well that's something. Do we think that Kelley and Petraeus were actually having an affair or do we think Broadwell was being paranoid?
N: We think Broadwell was being paranoid.
P1: That's too bad.
N: I know, I know.
P1: Do we have any new pictures, of anyone?
N: Yes, I was getting to that! Kelley is going about her business, so she came out of her house and we got pictures.
P1: Oh good! Are the pictures any good?
N: Really good. Yellow dress. She looks hot.
P1: Are they exclusive?
N: Well, no. They're A.P.
P1: Oh. Do we know if the other paper is using it?
N: We don't.
[Two alternate endings follow.]
ENDING NO. 1: DAILY NEWS
P1: OK. We got anything exclusive at all?
N: No, sorry, we don't. We're trying!
P1: Right. Well, we need a full page of Petraeus. So I'll find a way to bundle all of this stuff together somehow. How many pages will we have inside?
N: Three, I think, last time I looked at the page map. But hey, what about Elmo?
P1: Too gross, the boss thinks. So no. OK, thanks.
ENDING NO. 2: NEW YORK POST
P1: OK. We got anything exclusive at all?
P1: Great, what?!?
N: So, you know how Kelley has that twin sister, and like they are kind of socialites and were in a Food Network competition together or something?
P1: Yeah ...
N: So, sister is bonkers. And she's in a nasty custody battle with her husband, they're divorcing, I think, probably, but the divorce isn't final, but anyway it's nasty. We have all this stuff from the court record about the judge saying she makes stuff up.
P1: Oh really ...
P1: We going for a "runs in the family" type thing?
N: No! No. Just listen: And then, David Petraeus and John Allen, both, sent letters to go along with a court motion in the custody battle supporting the sister's custody claim. We do have the text of those!
P1: But haven't we already established that Petraeus, at least, is a friend of the family from when they all lived in Tampa?
N: Yes, but come on: It's ours! And it's nasty and it has Kelley, Petraeus and Allen, all of them, in it.
P1: Right. Well, that'll have to be it then.
N: Yep. But also don't forget the Elmo guy.
P1: No, yeah, that was always gonna go on top of this anyway.
N: Can I ask what you've got?
P1: Sure! It's a picture of the guy with headphones and the Elmo puppet, and the line is, get ready: "Nookie monster."
N: Oh, no. [Shudders audibly] I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.
P1: Heh, yeah I know. So how many pages are we doing on Petraeus?
N: Two, last time I looked.
P1: A spread?
N: No, sorry, it's too many little articles.
P1: Got it, thanks.
WINNER: New York Post.