Daily Flogger 7/29/08: Cancers on the body politic

Running down the papers:

Post: 'RX FOR MAC AND BARACK: Rivals both see docs'

Breathtaking lede of the tab's top campaign story of the day:

The White House rivals faced health issues yesterday, with melanoma survivor John McCain having a piece of skin removed from his face and Barack Obama getting a sore hip checked out at a Chicago hospital.

Can't wait to read the folo stories on the painkillers they used. We're already numb with boredom.


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Post: 'KIDNAPPED BY A ROCKEFOOLER'

Rockin' hed for this tight lede:

A New York man who masqueraded as a Rockefeller and infiltrated high society allegedly kidnapped his 7-year-old daughter from his ex-wife - and may be trying to smuggle her out of the country on his boat, officials said yesterday.

Just a great headline day for the Post, with this one on NBA corrupt ref Tim Donaghy's claim of mental problems:

'ROGUE REF IS LABELED ODDS BALL'

And this:

'UNWED MA AXED AS TEACHER: SUIT'

And this one about a Giants receiver's mystery injury and other drama:

'AS THE ANKLE TURNS'

But then your breakfast does its own flip-flop when it reaches this hed on Liz Smith's column that threatens to tell us details we don't want to know about one of the ancient columnist's contemporaries:

'QUEEN VICTORIA'S SECRET PANTIES'

Thank God the hed was misleading.


Times: 'Report Faults Aides in Hiring at Justice Dept.'

Winner of the 'Study Reveals Lack of Funds' Headline Contest. Here's Eric Lichtblau's lede:

Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions, picking less-qualified applicants for important nonpolitical positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility, an internal report concluded on Monday.

We knew this at the time — when Pat-Robertson-college-law-school grad Monica Goodling's involvement as a faith-based dimwit Justice aide was revealed — and yet the Times didn't nail it down at the time.


Times: 'Candidates Return Focus to Economy and Jobs'

The promo for Larry Rohter's story:

As the candidates emphasized bread-and-butter issues, John McCain's surrogates attacked Barack Obama's meeting with prominent economists.

Does campaign coverage get any lower than this? Learning the candidates' dick sizes would be just as relevant as learning what McCain's "surrogates" (his advisers and campaign flacks) think of Obama's strategies.

What do you think they think?

Rohter's lede graf, in the grand tradition of Pravda-style establishment journalism, is simply paralyzing:

Shifting the emphasis of his campaign back to the deteriorating economy after a weeklong trip abroad, Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, met in Washington on Monday with a group of 20 prominent economists, former government officials and business and labor leaders to discuss problems like vanishing jobs and rising food and fuel costs.

Times: 'Officer Investigated in Toppling of Cyclist'

The lede grafs:

A New York City police officer was stripped of his gun and badge on Monday after an amateur video surfaced on the Internet showing him pushing a bicyclist to the ground in Times Square during a group ride on Friday evening.

The cyclist, identified in court papers as Christopher Long, 29, was taking part in a monthly ride, called Critical Mass, that often draws hundreds of riders. In a criminal complaint against Mr. Long, the officer, identified in the court documents as Patrick Pogan of the Midtown South precinct, says that the cyclist rode straight into him. But the video, posted on YouTube and on the blog Gothamist.com, shows the officer lunging toward Mr. Long.

Speaking of amateurs, the Times doesn't even give you a link to the video. So here is the Gothamist link.

Remarkably, however, James Barron's story does throw in these context grafs — and they're high up:

The monthly rides have been a source of tension for the police since shortly before the Republican National Convention in 2004, when a large number of officers arrested more than 250 riders on charges that included parading without a permit.

In 2006, a state judge turned down a request by the city to forbid an environmental group that promotes the monthly rides from taking part in them, from gathering at Union Square Park beforehand and from mentioning the rides on its Web site.


Daily News: 'Christian Bale: "It's a private matter" '

Humdrum AP story with no news — No comment! Stop the presses! — matched by a humdrum hed.

So why is it prominently promoted by the News? Just to get Christian Bale's name in there for "page views" and "hits," the latest obsession by editors of dying rags who finally have some way — even if it's cockamamie — of supposedly quantifying how well their staff does. They'd rather look at those numbers — hopefully high if you do things like mention Christian Bale's name — than do the harder task of paying money for good work and then paying money to present it on well-designed sites and then market it to readers.

Of course, how the (highly questionable) numbers of page views and hits and "visitors" — if you do things like mention Christian Bale's name — actually translate into money is another matter. In the meantime, I'm going to move on from Christian Bale stories and go out and look for that kitten-strangling-by-nude-liberals yarn that, oh God, I hope will be picked up by Drudge.

The fifth most-mailed story on the Daily News site as of this morning?

'How short can she go? Katie debuts a new 'do'

Yeah, well, the sultry Scientologist's hair is still longer than Christian Bale's, which the News neglected to point out while trying to grab you by the short hairs.

I'm still having trouble working in Christian Bale's name. So hit me.

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