TABLOIDED: Ted Kennedy’s Obama Endorsement


We love here at Tabloided when both tabs have the same stories on the front page. Watching how the News and the Post play the same story—in this case, Sen. Ted Kennedy’s and the Kennedy clan’s endorsement of Barack Obama—provides an excellent window into the philosophical differences that animate the rival papers.

Competing against the sensationalism of the Post can’t be easy, if the News plays a story too softly, it just seems like it’s being the “Snooze.” If it plays stories too strongly, the News seems more rabid than the Post—which is not an easy thing to do. That’s what happened today. The Post goes with “BAMALOT”, a pretty decent pun that seems quite tasteful and restrained when compared with the New’s “SHAFTED!”—which has the “TED” part in red to highlight the involvement of the so-called “liberal lion” of the Senate.

We propose a new rule: Ted Kennedy and “Shaft” should never appear in the same headline unless it’s about a mining disaster or Isaac Hayes being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s too visual to think about Kennedy shafting anyone, let alone the Clintons.

The News does make it up a bit with a punny strip headline running across the bottom of the page “WILL IT BE GOODBYE RUDY TUESDAY?” We love a good Stones lyric pun. Who could hang a name on you, Rudy? Lots of people apparently. And “9/11’s hero” and “America’s Mayor” don’t seem to be one of them if Rudy’s spectacular flame-out is any indication.

But back the the Kennedy story. The Post plays it pretty straight inside with the headline “Teddy Ready for Prez Obama.” while the News goes with “Oh, Teddy, Where Did Our Love Go.” The Daily News digs up some a cool archival photo of the Clintons and the Kennedy clan on a boat and a young Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK. The Post predictably goes with another wild-eyed photo of Hillary Clinton. They run at least one a day.

It all begs the question: What is the Post up to? Does the paper have a horse in this race? We’re still trying to sort that one out. But lest anyone think the Post is getting all classy on us, they have a cartoon on Page Six that features Ted Kennedy driving off a bridge with Hillary as his passenger.

Both papers are still on the Heath Ledger story. And the Daily News has an unfortunate exclusive on Page 2. It turns out that Heath Ledger will be laid to rest in a “$25,000 mahogany casket lined with cream-colored velvet, the Daily News has learned.” The story by Rich Schapiro has a Los Angeles dateline and it serves to underscore the pressure put on a reporter when the editors break out the expense account. They are gonna want something. And so you get “exclusives” and sentences like “The handmade Concord mahogany casket is considered one of the finest wooden coffins on the market.” A source told the News “It’s a very, very beautiful casket – really special, really fancy.”

The conventions of newspaper journalism, such as “the Daily News has learned” and “a source told” seem quite odd when employed in article about a deceased actor’s casket and conjures images of a reporter conducting a secret meeting in some back alley with some mortician who whispers “Yeah, kid, it’s a special casket, a real special casket.”

When it comes to the State of the Union address, the Post shows it’s ready to flack for Dubya until the very end, running a credulous story under the headline “Terror on the Run.” And right there is the problem with the Post: all the wackiness and fun are hard to take when you really consider how much they shilled for Bush and the misguided Iraq war. That tends to take the gloss of the Post‘s wackiness. Case in point: The Post didn’t have room in Tuesday’s paper for a story about the five G.I.s killed in an ambush in Mosul. The News had that story across the top of Page 16.

The News, even though it endorsed Dubya on its editorial page in the last election, at least concedes that his presidency has been a failure, running an analysis piece by their Washington bureau chief under the headline “Winded W limping toward finish line of 8-year race.” Amen.

PUNTASTIC HEADLINES: The Post‘s “Dominatrix gets off easy”
“Wrestler gets just ‘dessert’” about a Jell-O wrestling lawsuit also in the Post.

The Post used a dollar sign instead of the letter “S” four times on Tuesday, bringing the week’s count up to six. And it’s only Tuesday! And not only that but Cindy Adam’s column was graced with a double: “Sports memorabilia raises que$tion$” It could be a bumper crop of “$” headlines this week.

Let’$ hope $o.


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