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

The New York Post: Are you following the Countess Divorce? The New York Post is banking on it! They must have some kind of internal numbers on this. Anyway, ‘Worst sex I ever had’ seem to be the thoughts of nobody in particular in the case, except the editors of the Post, perhaps, who my encyclopedically-inclined colleague Matt Haber reminds me used a version of this headline back when Donald Trump was a young man: “Best Sex I Ever Had” read the headline on editions of Feb. 16, 1990, next to a picture of Donald Trump with a dreamy-devilish grin on his face. If the reversal of that old headline makes it seem like the Countess is actually complaining about the abilities of her much-older ex-husband, with whom a divorce proceeding in Connecticut is getting exceedingly tawdry, then consider yourself misled! In fact, the issue seems to be whether the Countess and her ex-husband ever had sex after the divorce papers were first filed; that might invalidate a postnuptial agreement that gave her only a bajillion dollars instead of a bazillion. So, did they or didn’t they? It seems the husband admits they did, but says he was forced. Tune in tomorrow! This looks like your main news from the Post for the forseeable future! By the way, Andrea Peyser is following along gamely with a column; you’ll have to look that one up for yourself. Meanwhile on the bottom of the page: We’ve got a squib about the governor ordering 8,900 layoffs which pulls a little bit of space from Michael Bloomberg’s outrage over the fare-hike negotiations presently taking place in Albany without adding much to the page except to make us feel unsure they wanted to put Mike there in the first place. What is Mike doing? He is telling you to “GET MAD!” and call state legislators to complain about the fare hike.

Daily News: See, what happened yesterday is that the Mayor was at an event in Brooklyn about some other thing–this is the way it works, by the way–and a reporter asked him if the fare hikes were insane, and he said yes! Quote: “You should call your state legislators and say, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.'” This is why The News goes with the headline, “WE’RE MAD AS HELL!” Inside the paper this means they have to spend time explaining the movie reference and have put in a picture of Peter Finch looking crazy. Unlike the Post, The News sticks to two main stories presented vertically today, which has the advantage of not seeming to promote one story over the other, and the disadvantage of making both of them seem a little small. The other story is off President Obama’s speech last night; but there’s no aggressive “take.” The coverline is “IT’S GONNA WORK: Prez says economy will bounce back.” Again with the writing from the TV! It was a big story, and Obama is Big News, but couldn’t we have found a picture where he looks a little less waxworky? (That may actually be the Presidents’ fault.) Or taken a line on it that’s unexpected to spin out the top of the piece? Once again we note that nydailynews.com is its own person, which we think is very advanced and clever. After all, who that has read the News wants to show up at work at 9 a.m. and read it again?

General Observations: Sometimes it makes sense to award a certain level of bravery and strategery. This Countess Divorce campaign, can it be for real? Is the Post going with its passions, pursuing a campaign, all those things that newspapers are supposed to do to make themselves stand out? And should this be rewarded no matter what the topic? No, you know what? We’re not going to take it anymore! It’s time to relegate the Countess Divorce to a little corner of the front page. There was a big speech from the President last night; where is that Populist Outrage that might have made thinking about it this morning less of a chore? If they’d done that they’d have knocked the Daily News silly, with their somnolent dead-fish approach to the story.

Winner: This was a bad day for both, but: Daily News. Wood War! Who Wins Today’s Grabby Tabloid Battle For Your Eyeballs?