TABLOIDED: The Post vs. The Daily News


Finally we have unencumbered issues of both papers! Of course, the Daily News just can’t let Super Bowl glory go, and they put Eli Manning on their front page again today. The big news? The News gave him framed copies of his front pages. How meta!

The bigger sports scoop is below the smiling “Mann of the Hour.” The lawyer for Roger Clemens’ trainer says there is physical evidence that the Yankees pitcher juiced. The trainer apparently has Clemens’ used needles, vials with traces of steroids and growth hormones and bloody gauze. Eww. It did allow the sports desk to include this brilliant truck headline: “NEEDLES MAY GET CLEMENS IN END.” Now that is perfectly puntastic.

The Post, meanwhile, went the celebrity/political route today. The majority of the front page deals with Hillary Clinton’s $5 million loan to her campaign. Britney Spears’ release from the “nut house” and Heath Ledger’s toxicology report also made page one.

The Hillary story illustrates how each paper’s own editorial slants can seep into coverage. The News endorsed Clinton in the primary, so the $5 million loan is portrayed as a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” move. The headline on page 5 exclaims, “HIL BAILS HERSELF OUT.” The Post, meanwhile, stumped for Obama and notes “HILLARY WILL GO FOR BROKE.” The rest of the Post‘s coverage talks about how Obama is actually the front-runner. To drive this point home, there is no picture of Clinton on pages 6 and 7 of the Post. The News has a photo of Clinton announcing the infusion of cash outside her Arlington, Va., campaign headquarters.

The Britney Spears story just gets stranger and stranger. The singer was released from the UCLA Medical Center yesterday, and her presence on the streets of Los Angeles caused a commotion with paparazzi, police and caught-in-the-fray bystanders like California First Lady Maria Shriver. (Spears ran into Shriver at the Beverly Hills Hotel.) The Post‘s front page may mention the nut house, but the News gets points for more lurid coverage. They managed to connect Brit’s latest meltdown and the one-year anniversary of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, which is tomorrow? How did they grab at those straws? By comparing Britney’s vilified manager Osama “Sam” Lutfi to Smith’s bizarre handler Howard K. Stern.

The Heath Ledger toxicology report stories also show the differences in the two papers. The Post is still harping on the Mary-Kate Olsen bodyguard connection, as Andrea Peyser mentions it in her “well, maybe it wasn’t an accident, despite what the coroner said” column. Yes, it’s “drugs are bad” rhetoric, but it’s still taking the most sensational aspect of the story and blowing it out of proportion. This is much like the photo and captions that accompany the story. The Post chooses a pic of a disheveled Ledger and several pictures of examples the pills found in his system. The best touch is the description of each drug, including bolding of key phrases like, “Temazepam — Powerful sleeping pill once used in mind-control research“. Is the implication that Ledger was having his mind controlled by someone?

The News was much more subtle with its coverage, with a photo of a pensive Ledger and illustrations of the various pills. The News and Post both touch upon the DEA investigation angle of the story as well. Apparently the agency is looking into how Ledger managed to get all six of these drugs at once, since prescribing them together can be a lethal cocktail.

Odds & Ends
Tabloid Tropes The News has a great “why can’t the little guy win?” story today. John Montalvo owns a tow truck company responsible for towing illegally parked cars at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall. Unfortunately, he has towed several civilian cars of police officers. Montalvo, a paraplegic, is suing the city for harassment, as he has been pulled over several times by officers.

Just bizarre The Post examines Iran’s free sex change operations. Apparently the government will pay for surgery of those who feel they were born the wrong gender. It’s worth it just for the headline: “Axis of She-vil.”

HEADLINES Both papers cover the Lexington Avenue Armory bribery scandal, but the Post nails it with the hed: “‘$HAKEDOWN’ WAS CRIME OF FASHION.” They got the dollar sign and the mention of Fashion Week in there! (Designer Marc Jacobs’ company is part of the investigation, as the Attorney General wants to know if the design firm willingly forked over money to have its fashion shows there.)