‘Daily News’ sits down with Dina Lohan, ‘Post’ sits down in front of Facebook

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Today's tabloids, Jan. 7, 2012. ((Click here to enlarge.))
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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?

PARENT RAP: Reporters who have been working the Lohan family beat for long enough know that both of the troubled actors' parents are pretty adept at handling the media. You have to proceed with caution to avoid getting caught up in a battle between father Michael and mother Dina that has been raging now for more than a decade.

Or not!

Today, the News makes a deal with Dina, who has been hanging out with her daughter Lindsay in London over the holidays. Back home on Long Island, she met exclusively with a News reporter to describe her 22-year marriage to Michael as one full of physical abuse.

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"Lindsay saw her dad abuse me," she tells the paper. "That’s why she’s so screwed up."

Michael is interviewed to respond to the charges, which broadly he says are "evil lies" and many of which he specifically counters in the article. Michael has admitted to using cocaine during the marriage in the past, and to having been in and out of jail for various small violations relating to his job as a stockbroker early in the marriage.

"LO LIFE" read the big knockout-white letters of the hed. "Mom: Lindsay saw my ex abusing me." It seems to be a regular thing these days at the News that silhouettes of all the characters are dotted across the bottom of the page, with Dina and Michael on the left and Lindsay on the right. But the main image is a large photo taken in 1986 of Dina (looking really remarkably similar to Lindsay circa about five years ago) holding her baby, a black left eye clearly visible.

THE KRIM FAMILY, COMING BACK: In case you hadn't remembered their names, the Krims are the Upper West Side family struck by tragedy last year, when, police say, the couple's nanny murdered two of their three children before attempting to kill herself. It has to have been the biggest crime story of 2012 except for Sandy Hook. Kevin Krim, a media executive, and his wife had long had active online presences before the incident, and they continued that after the tragedy. Over the last couple of months in particular the family has published notes on their travels with their young surviving daughter, on their own survival after the ordeal, and on various news events like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as soliciting donations for a fund set up to honor their two children. Most recently on Dec. 28, Kevin posted a status about Nessa, age 4, that read in part: "She saves us every day ... Marina and I couldn’t be more proud of her—she is very smart, beautiful and tough."

The Krims' life after tragedy would normally be fascinating, even if one could wish that the press were giving them space and time to deal with the aftermath themselves. But the Krim family is different: They've seized control of their own narrative by doing what many probably could not: Telling their story constantly and publicly on Facebook.

And they've found a network of supportive readers as they describe moving out to the West Coast temporarily to be with family, then taking an RV back to New York across country to return here, judging by the number of likes and comments that item got when it was posted to a public Facebook page—10 days ago.

And that's just what is so baffling about this Post cover. Not every good story is news, is it? If it were, front pages would be easy. I just am not having an easy time figuring out how the Post decides to take something already published elsewhere (who cares that it's not by a "publication" they compete with?) and repeat it on its entire front page 10 days later?

OBSERVATIONS: On Friday, I took a slight risk when I suggested there had been a turning point in the front page battle between New York's two tabloids. At least: It's the kind of turning point that could turn back on itself any day. The battle of the front pages is a daily battle, after all. But for the moment I'm thinking I was right. It is absolutely impossible to imagine the Post could have been satisfied with this front page a year ago—possibly even a month ago? If this had been worth doing, why wasn't it done on Dec. 29 or 30?

And while I have no great love for brokered exclusives with famous people, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the Post would have done this front page if they could have. This is a washout.

WINNER: Daily News.