Surely you’ve heard the old adage “If it bleeds, it leads.” This is the bread-and-butter of Tabloidland, to use another worn-out cliché. (Is that redundant? We’ll get to that later.) It makes perfect sense, then that the bloody, brutal murder of Upper East Side therapist Kathryn Faughey by a “hacker psycho” (Post) or “mad slasher” (Daily News) makes both front pages. What puzzles the mind is how these two papers have essentially the same story, but the Post places its coverage over the full pages 2 and 3 (the table of contents is bumped to page 8), and the News relegates its story to pages 18 and 19.
Both papers have boilerplate play-by-play stories of the incident, with the Post opting to be a little more lurid in the details. Does the reader really need to know that the killer “switched to a 9-inch kitchen knife to finish [Faughey] off”? The News is more vague in its description of the murders, with oblique mentions of the victim’s “butchering” and a more perfunctory description of the crime scene. The most bizarre aspect of the case is what the “Butcher of 79th Street” left behind: suitcases filled with knives, duct tape, women’s clothing and adult diapers. This lurid angle is going to give the story stronger legs, despite the tabloid appeal of the “madman on the loose” narrative.
So, why else do we think this story is relegated to the back of the Daily News? It could be that the editors wanted to put the story on a color page. But after using Page 2 for a Valentine heart-warmer in color, the paper had to go 16 pages back for another color slot (not counting ad pages, of course.) The day will come when the News will no longer have to agonize over such decisions as the paper announced yesterday that it is spending an estimated $100 million to become the first major paper in the nation with the ability to go full color on all its pages.
Another—admittedly crackpot—theory is that the News didn’t want to bum anyone out on this commercial holiday of candy hearts and flowers: Valentine’s Day has taken over the Daily News. Page 2 features a story about a man proposing to his girlfriend via the paper along with another fluff piece on how City Hall will be bracing for its busiest Valentine’s Day for weddings ever. Page 3 has a short article on how Germany is investigating price-fixing in the chocolate industry. But the piece-de-resistance is the bottom editorial in which the News “sends a valentine” to all its readers, especially the ones who are empty-handed this holiday. It’s enough to give us sugar-shock.
The other big story today is the congressional hearings on steroids in baseball. Pitcher Roger Clemens testified under oath that he has never done steroids. This was an awkward event, as Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee sat a few feet away from Clemens and was offering up contradictory testimony. Both papers report that the Yankees ace was struggling in the hearings (although the News calls him a liar on the front page) and they each dedicate four front-of-paper pages to the scandal. The rising star of the coverage, however, is Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings (D), who blasted Clemens, noting that while the pitcher was one of his heroes, he still didn’t believe him. Cummings said he believed Andy Pettitte over Clemens. Both Post columnist Mike Vaccaro dedicates his piece to Cummings, and the News‘ Mike Lupica does as well, by way of Pettitte. Other angles covered include fan reaction and player reaction. Both papers quote former Yanks manager Joe Torre, who said it’s a “sad, sad time” for baseball.
Strange news Both papers pick up a story of how Mayor Bloomberg was anonymously gifted a NRA membership. The mayor says he plans to use it to voice his opinions on gun control to the powerful lobby.
That’s redundant and repetitive We understand that it’s hard to get all the info you want crammed into a small headline, but the Daily News‘ use of the word “slay” for murder in two small stories on page 22 (“Dentist-slay mom cant see her kid” and “Kuby floats alibi in Realtor’s slay”) was a little too much. You might even say that it was overkill.
The story that won’t die The Post has photos of poor kids in Nicaragua donning “19-0 Perfect Season” New England Patriots T-shirts. The NFL donated the incorrect shirts to the World Vision charity. Maybe Tom Brady wants to take a vacation down there.
Puntastic and prejudiced? The Post follows up yesterday’s Sharon Bush ring fight story with the headline “GIVER-WORST.” We’re wondering if there will be any angry letters regarding Bush’s lawyer Raoul Felder calling multimillionaire Gerald Tsai a “Native American giver.” Yeah, he didn’t’ say “Indian giver,” but still…Again, we wonder why you’d want to keep the ring your ex gave you after this bitter fight. Guess the rich are different from you and me.