Newspapers serve many functions in society: government watchdogs, history’s first draft, keepers of time and tradition. Another role newspapers can play is the calm voice of reason in emotional and turbulent times. Or they can do what the Daily News did today in announcing that six Al Qaeda conspirators face murder charges and the death penalty before a military tribunal for slaughter of 2,974 people on 9/11: They can go buck wild on the front page.
In a front-page editorial beneath the now iconic T-shirt picture of KSM, the News says “At the end of the road for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 9/11 plotters: DEATH! Death so ordered by law. BURN IN HELL!”
Wow. A quote from Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son Christian, died at the World Trade Center brings home the cost of the human suffering that day: “It’s about time these people were subjected to same brutal death sentence they imposed on our innocent children.”
Some might say the tone of the News editorial could be a little more sober-minded. It sort of recalls Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when the Pee Wee gets into trouble at the biker bar. “I saw we drown him. YEAH. Then we stomp him. YEAH. Then we shoot him. YEAH! And then we kill him. YEAH,” is basically what the bloodthirsty bikers scream before Pee Wee charms them with the tequila dance.
“Die, you bastards” is how the News concludes their editorial that has the headline “Death is too good.” The Post hasn’t editorialized about the charges against KSM and crew and it should be interesting to see its reaction. Perhaps tomorrow?
The seriousness of the military tribunal aside, there are lot of other amazing tabloid stories in today’s papers. Both go with the Andy Pettitte steroid testimony on the front page, the Post going with “BEAN BALL” and the News with “BALK.” But it’s the secondary front page stories that are more interesting. The New‘s goes with the “Burn in Hell!” editorial and the Post goes with a silly photo of Michelle Williams walking past a prop skeleton under the headline “Heath’s ex-love in eerie return.”
Williams apparently is back at work on a movie being shot on Spring Street—just blocks from where Ledger was found dead in his Broome Street loft. We get it. What are they not going to run that photo? Of course not. But it’s funny. Skeleton don’t remind people of lost loved ones. Life reminds people of lost loved ones. Their daughter Matilda must remind her of Heath every day. For good measure, the Post‘s subhead is “Michelle with skeleton crew on SoHo set.”
WHEN TABS ATTACK We love it when the papers go after each other’s reporting. And today the News gleefully shits on Monday’s Post front page “Mob Fish Tale,” about how mob rat Joseph Vollaro casually picked up sashimi from a sushi place in a mobbed-up section of Staten Island just days after the feds locked up scores of Gambino-family goodfellas on his word and wiretapping . Rats already make for great headlines, but then you add sushi to the mix and the possibilities are endless.
“Sushi manager sez Post’s story about rat seems fishy” reads the News story that has the lede “Another day, another fish tale in the New York Post.” Calling the Post a “truth-challenged tabloid,” the News quotes officials who say Vollaro is in the witness protection program. The owner of Mizu, the Staten Island sushi joint, said Vollaro wasn’t there and has the surveillance tapes to prove it, according to the News. The Post seems to throw some cold water on it’s own story saying the feds put Vollaro on ice. The bartender denies the story too, according to the Post. Too bad they didn’t reach her yesterday.
The source for the Post story told the Voice on Monday that Vollaro was there too, adding some other juice tidbits about Vollaro’s previous loutish behavior. Sometimes, it would seem, sources are wrong. But if the source were right, what an embarrassment to prosecutors. Having your top witness against the mob wandering the streets of Staten Island in the search of fatty toro is one sure way to blow a case.
NO TEACHER LEFT BEHIND The News and the Post both have a pretty weird item about a retired math teacher from Quebec who woke up in the hospital, not remembering how he got there. The staff at the Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky would be proud), an S&M Club on E.33rd Street, found the 64-year-old turning blue, hanging in a dungeon room, and took him to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Cops are probing whether the club could face negligence charges.
The News withheld the man’s name, while the Post shows little restraint in the S&M tale. The name him as retired Math professor from Vanier College in Montreal. The Post somehow even manages to track down a woman they identify as Taki Noriko, a mistress who was supposed to be minding the professor who was wearing high heels, nipple clamps, a leather collar and a hood while being attached to the wheel at the S& M Club. For her part, she said his foot slipped out of his shoe and that’s why he was turning blue.
The News concludes their story with a quote from another resident of the E. 33rd Street building that is also home to the Nutcracker Suite:
“A steady stream of bankers, lawyers, doctors, going to the ninth floor,” said Janet Benshoof, president of the Global Justice Center on the 12th floor. “It was like Guantanamo for sexual deviants. It was Abu Ghraib in Manhattan, but for pleasure.”
BORAT WOULD PROUD The Daily News reports that Hamas is broadcasting a cuddly bunny, on a kids TV show, who says “I will eat the Jews” to indoctrinate small children in the Arab world.
PUNTASTIC HEDS : The New‘s Valentine’s Day story about a matchmaking cab driver gets “HE’S A LOVE HACK, BABY”