TABLOIDED: What Color Was the Bomber’s Bicycle?


In the news game, there are slow news days and then there are what we had yesterday: A deluge of stories, any one of which could be front page material for a paper looking to capture your eye, and your pocket change, as you walk past the newsstand. There was the handmade bomb detonated outside the Armed Forces Recruitment Center in Times Square that was made all the more mysterious by the manifesto mailed to Washington lawmakers that seemingly referenced the attack.

But, wait, there’s more: An Obama staffer called Hillary Clinton a ‘monster’ in an interview with a Scottish journalist while a Clinton campaigner suggested that the Obama team was acting like Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated the Lewinsky affair.

But wait there’s more: a notorious arms dealer who was the inspiration for Nicholas Cage’s character in the 2005 movie “Lord of War” was busted trying to sell missiles to Columbian rebels; Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was busted on DWI charges with a blacked-out damsel rumpled in the backseat of his car, and Manhattan federal prosecutors also busted an international prostitution ring that charged johns $5,000 an hour.

Also, on another day, the nine rabbinical students murdered in a hail of 600 bullets by a gunman in Jerusalem could have been a font page story as could the latest in the Sean Bell trial.

Any of those stories has front page potential. The Daily News went with the “slime-time politics” on the front page, under the headline “MONSTER BASH,” about how the war of words is getting ugly between the Hillary and Obama camps. The Post went with mysterious letter sent to Capitol Hill and used surveillance photos of the bicycle bomber under the headline “WE DID IT.”

Gotta give it to the Post on this one. It’s the more compelling story and the more compelling front page, in our humble opinion. We found the News‘ choice to be a strange since there’s a whole lot of good information in the News‘ story which runs across pages 4 and 5 under the header “Bomber’s Boast.” Why not throw bicycle in that header just for that added touch of alliteration?

But back to the facts, as reported by the tabs. (The News credits four reporters on their piece, while the Post threw eight people on the story.) According to the News‘ account, the manifesto—which included a photograph of a man standing outside the recruiting station holding a placard that read “Happy New Year. We Did It.”—was signed by a “David Karne.” Authorities contacted a David Karne but did not make an arrest, according to the News. That’s an interesting tidbit that the Post didn’t have. Who is “David Karne” and does it matter that his name is anagram for “Invade Dark?”

But what if authorities believed the letter and the bombing were just an “an unbelievable coincidence,” as the Associated Press is reporting today? Weird. That’s one hell of a coincidence.

The News also reports that the letters were mailed from a California return address. The tabs differ on the color of the bomber’s bike. The Post reported it as a “blue Ross ten-speed” while the News doesn’t report the bicycle’s brand and describes it as “red.” The News also reports that an eyewitness crossed paths with the bicycle bomber and then crossed the street thinking the bomber was a mugger.

These are all pretty good details.

On the political front, the Post highlights the Clinton offensive under the headline “Hill Launches ‘Starr’ Wars” while the News highlights the Obama contretemps under the headline “A Monstrous Oops for Bam.” Two candidates, two cheap shots, two papers, and lots of ways to play the story.

Let’s go to the ledes:

From the Post:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign unleashed a blistering attack against Barack Obama yesterday – accusing him of behaving like Kenneth Starr, the Sexgate prosecutor whose probe led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

From the News:

A senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama was forced to apologize Thursday night for describing Hillary Clinton as a “monster” during an interview with a Scottish newspaper, a major embarrassment to the Illinois senator who promised voters he wouldn’t engage in the politics of personal destruction.

There are a million stories in the naked city. And almost as many ways to play them.