Wood War! Who Wins Today’s Grabby Tabloid Battle For Your Eyeballs?

The Daily News: Is the glass half-full, or half empty? ‘WOW, THAT’S BETTER’ is the coverline the News has chosen to trumpet the ongoing improvements in the Raging Proletariat’s relationship with AIG bigwigs. “AIG execs start giving back OUR cash.” Inside there’s a spread that’s pretty much a print object packaging the article about the nine top AIG bonus-earners who have agreed to return some of their bonuses, after some gentle prodding by ambitious A.G. Andrew Cuomo. And on the left, we have mention of David Letterman’s impending nuptials. We’ve long known that it’s hard to go wrong with David Letterman on your cover. But isn’t it a bit of a stretch to classify as gossip a piece of news that was announced during last night’s taping of The Late Show? Also, it is not strictly within this poll’s purview to discuss “online editions.” But it is probably worth noting that a visit right now to nydailynews.com will not offer the same “top stories” that are appearing on newsstands this morning. Hint: The Stars are really heating up Spring Break! They are probably on to something over there.

The New York Post: They are nobody’$ Pollyanna$ over at the Post. “HALF A$$ AIG” screams the headline, elaborating: “Giving back only 50% of bonus bucks.” For our money, that should have read “bonu$ buck$.” We wonder if the Post has trouble with search engine optimization when they pull these clever typographic tricks. At any rate, there you have it: Half-empty. Perhaps Mort Zuckerman is not sufficiently tapped into the Populist Rage, which is the sociological meme of the moment. Wait a minute: sorry. We are now taking a break from our regularly scheduled demagoguery to bring you the story of the Countess who was the “Queen of a Gilded Cage.” “The Countess Divorce” takes up the left-hand side of Page One, with a curlicued magenta script over a black-and-white togetherness photo. “Poor Little Rich Girl Had It All,” reads the coverline referring readers to an inside two-page spread. Here’s the lead once you get there: “He spent $200,000 a week giving her anything she wanted. Four or five furs. At least a half-dozen $26,000 Birken handbags. Weekends yachting off Sardinia. She never had to lift a finger except to swipe his American Express card. This is a problem? Yes, it’s a problem, says the socialite wife in a bizarre Connecticut divorce trial with $100 million at stake.” Well, the poors always did like a story about a fairy princess in a Connecticut court, or something like that.

General observations: We’d like to call the New York Post on playing both sides of the populism thing but the problem is, in its weird pseudo-British way, it has always worked. This countess lady is at least telling us something we couldn’t have figured out ourselves watching TV before bed last night. We’ll call it a draw on the AIG thing: let’s see whose approach to the “A.I.G. Is P.I.G.” storyline starts resonating with the public more strongly. They’re both just guessing now.

Winner: The New York Post.