11:30 am Jan. 2, 2013
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?
CLIFF NOTES: The thing about compromises where there are no clear winners is that looked at another way there aren't any clear losers, either.
In the eleventh-hour compromise deal to avert the much-discussed "fiscal cliff," how you look at it depends largely on which side of the widening fiscal-policy gulf you find yourself on, and how firmly.
But the most sober assessments of what happened yesterday were pretty ambivalent, from a winner-loser perspective.
One Times article quotes Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush's press secretary during the years he pushed hard for the tax cuts that were just extended, saying the fence, "As a Bush loyalist, it’s fantastic that the Bush tax cuts, which now have to be seen inarguably as overwhelmingly for the middle class, are being made permanent. On the other hand, it’s inarguable that this adds $4 trillion to the federal debt."
But the Republicans in the House who voted against the bill are not "Bush loyalists" at all. They believe Bush was a softie who didn't do enough to cut spending or lower taxes.
The Post's Charles Gasparino is on their team and he, like them, ends up sounding a little incoherent today. Obama's bill is a disaster for America and an overwhelming victory for him and the Democrats, but Washington is a "circus" and the president can't get anything done. (Except, it seems, precisely what he wants to get done?)
It wouldn't be worth our time if it didn't demonstrate the pickle the Post is in generally today, trying to sum up the story without a legible scorecard in hand.
Strangely, the front page, without saying much of anything specific, appears to hand a bit of a victory to John Boehner, the guy who had trouble getting his House Republicans to sign on to a deal two weeks ago that was far more favorable to their position than this one is, and who suggested, I would guess not jokingly, that he was in a "nightmare" position.
"LEAP OF FAITH" reads the text. (We are "leaping" over the cliff, but in whom is our, or Boehner's, faith placed now?)
There's a very stentorian silhouette of Boehner's head in front of a night-time Capitol. "GOP breaks ranks to pass bill."
I'm with Fleischer: "For me, this is very much an ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ thing," he told the Times, which is why the Post looks so mealy-mouthed.
Whereas the News demonstrates that it was, in fact, possible to shift the readers' focus in a direction where a tabloid newspaper actually could make a firm statement: The decision to postpone a vote on appropriations to New York and New Jersey to address the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy some two weeks and into the next legislative session. "FISCAL STIFFS" reads the headline over a picture of Boehner and Eric Cantor, looking like they are leaving that Capitol basement caucus of G.O.P. house members that immediately preceded the deal. "D.C. dolts finally pass stopgap deal, but stick it to Sandy vics by axing aid vote." That was easy!
OBSERVATIONS: There's not much to see here, folks. The Post treatment manages to be idiosyncratic without being forceful, somehow. The News is a bit of a snooze (though not more so than the Post) but at least they've found an angle with some sharpness to it.
WINNER: Daily News.