The Two Tatum O’Neals


What a difference an exclusive makes! The Post‘s coverage of Tatum O’Neal’s drug bust is downright upbeat compared to that of the Daily News. The Post is playing the redemption narrative, while the News goes with one of skepticism toward a known drug addict — “Tatum laughs it off” reads the front page, and the page-four headline is “It’s comedy to Tatum,” with a lead that reads, “It was all a big joke.”

The Post, on the other hand, makes the bust seem like the greatest thing that could have ever happened to O’Neal. The actress tells columnist Andrea Peyser that getting arrested saved her sobriety:

“‘Just when I was about to change that and wreck my life, the cops came and saved me!’ Tatum crowed.

“‘I was saved by the bell, by the guys in the Seventh Precinct.'”

The Peyser column explains that the reason for O’Neal’s near-relapse was the death of her beloved dog.

So, why is Peyser, who we all know as the queen of moral outrage, cheering on O’Neal? And how the hell did she get this exclusive? It’s simple—flattery will get you everywhere.

As Peyser notes, “She called me to explain herself. Also, because she liked my columns slamming another discarded wife, Dina Matos McGreevey.”

Unlike the “joking” that the Daily News describes O’Neal doing as she left jail, the Post portrays her as incredibly humble. O’Neal notes that she received no special treatment and that the women sharing her cell were “nice!” The News counters with a quote from a “law enforcement source” who makes a typical “pampered Hollywood celebrity” remark: “She’s going to go to her own, high-priced, out-of-the-spotlight rehab to get clean –again.”

Ah, cynicism and optimism.