Like a nasty drunk, the ‘Post’ visits the stupidities of Anthony Weiner on his wife and newborn child

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Today's tabloids, Dec. 22, 2011. ()
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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?

New York Post: I've spent a lot of time over the last year and a half telling people I don't want to write about how offensive this or that article or cover-treatment in the Post is. A friend's analogy—that it's like getting outraged when a pro-wrestling heel cheats—is one that's always in my mind if not always on my lips. It's just the game.

But I think it's worthwhile, every now and then, to take a deep breath and allow yourself to be surprised by the New York Post. Consider this my suspension of disinterest in the morals of the Post. If Nick Davies and his colleagues at the Guardian had stayed too cool to be angered by the stunts of The News of the World, after all, would that newspaper or its parent company ever have been called to the floor for hacking the cell phone of a kidnapped and murdered child to get "exclusives" ahead of the police?

Nothing so grievous has ever happened at the Post (employees are known to crack that they'd have lots more exclusives if they actually did hack phones, like their corporate cousins in Britain).

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But even if the reporters are conducting themselves admirably in the field, the paper can commit an infraction simply by putting topspin on a story, on the front page or at the rewrite desk, that takes its tasteless joking too far. I don't know whether Col Allan, the notorious humorist behind the Post's front pages these several years, is in the country right now (he isn't, often enough, and it is the Holidays), but he is ultimately answerable. For what, you ask? Scarcely a day old, Jordan Zain Weiner, son of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner and the U.S. secretary of state's deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, has suffered the first of many schoolyard taunts at the hands of Allan of his editors.

"A little Weiner," reads the text at the top of the page next to the silhouetted faces of his parents. "Baby boy for Huma and louse."

It would certainly be appropriately piratical to order such a treatment of a newborn. Calling it hypocrisy—Col Allan once had to defend his own wiener from charges of misappropriation—is beside the point, since bullies are generally all about social asymmetry, and hypocrisy is therefore not possible in their milieu. The Post can and often will display a boorishness far worse than that displayed by Weiner when he sent dirty pictures of himself to women over the internet, and still continue to try to score wins against him.

And so Anthony Weiner's child must be born, to a mother who has certainly done nothing to merit this treatment of her infant son, into a world that knows him as Little Weiner, and laughs its toothy, nicotine-stained and wine-vomit-scented laughs at him through the mouth of the Post, until it catches itself in the mirror and recoils.

The final retribution for the Post will be when we all stop laughing with the drunk. I think the Post, as hard as it tries to cultivate its piratical persona, knows this, and I imagine that in quiet meetings, every once in a while, it resolves to correct its course, for a little while at least, lest it be thrown out of the party. Which after all is a business, and not a moral decision.

Sorry about that, which must after all be kept a completely different consideration from the rest of the Post's front page. The fund to pay for the education of the four daughters of slain detective Peter Figoski has passed the million-dollar mark. The hed: "THANKS A MILLION!" 

Daily News: Speaking of bullies: The main headline on today's News is "BULLIED TO DEATH," pegged to the story of Army Pvt. Danny Chen, the 19-year-old Chinatown kid who was found dead in October in a watchtower at a military installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Letters home, emails to friends, and documents obtained by or compiled by the army, collectively give the impression of a pattern of bullying targeting Chen specifically for being Chinese-American. In one instance, Chen "was dragged by the bullies out of his bed, pelted with stones, hung upside down while his mouth was full of a liquid, and mocked as 'Jackie Chan,'" according to family members who gathered with elected officials on the occasion of the Army announcing charges against eight soldiers in connection with Chen's death.

It isn't clear whether Army prosecutors are pursuing a case that would make the soldiers directly responsible for a death they view as a suicide, or if they believe the soldiers were more directly involved in the shooting death.

Up above: Everyone's gearing up for the big event this weekend—the Jets playing the Giants! Seriously, it's good stuff, and there are high stakes, even if those stakes are not actually being negotiated through "TRASH TALK!" between Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress, as portrayed on the cover of the News.

Observations: Every once in a while I think the Post really will alienate more readers than it ingratiates when it acts like an ass. Today's one of those days.

Winner: Daily News.