Get Your War on the Front Page


Today’s front pages are an exercise in extremes. On one end, we have the Post and its “hard-hitting” exclusive that the Yankees and the Mets are in negotiations with the city to buy the teams’ old stadiums (more on that later today) so that they can sell the scraps as memorabilia. Above this story, the Post trumpets its interview with madam Andreia Schwartz, who gives away Eliot Spitzer’s “kinky sex secrets.”

The Daily News is in stark contrast to the Post‘s coverage of the ex-governor’s kinks on page one with its giant headline “4,000 DEAD” featuring a photo of a soldier’s boots, gun, dog tags and helmet standing in front of an out-of-focus American flag. The juxtaposition is especially powerful when you’re at the bodega glancing at the the two papers side-by-side. It’s sort of a “La la, the ex-governor’s kinky…WTF?” moment. But you know what? It works.

Last week, I had taken both tabloids to task for barely acknowledging the 5-year anniversary of the Iraq War. For some reason, we like to commemorate important events with nice, “round” numbers that usually end in 5 and 0. There’s no real reason that death number 4,000 is all that much different than number 3,999 (except, of course, that it causes one more family a lifetime of heartache), but when that figurative odometer turns, we all seem to take notice. Perhaps the News decided to go with this front page because 4,000 dead is a much grander number than five years of fighting. It’s not just a larger number because its value is 3,995 more, “4,000” allows us to think of the consequences of the fighting in Iraq, which is something many of us don’t do nearly enough. (See the New York Times for a piece on how the media coverage in Iraq has decreased over the years or how a recent protest fell short of attendance goals.) Many have been ignoring this war for quite a while. Sometimes it takes a shock to our senses like today’s front page to remind us what’s really important.