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

New York Post: What exactly is “secret” about the state’s plan to levy a special tax on high earners? After gaining approval in a public process in the State Assembly it moved to the Senate, all of which is not news to anyone who has cared about state tax policy before. Well, though it’s not obvious from the cover, this is a Fred Dicker do: the intrepid Capitol columnist writes that the Governor and Albany Democrats have “secretly agreed on an $8 billion, two- year tax hike on individuals making more than $500,000 a year that will “sunset” around the time he plans to run for election in 2010.” It seems like the “sunset” provision is the juicy bit here, so why isn’t that upfront on the front page? It’s Governor Paterson’s jockeying for position at reelection time we are really supposed to be outraged about, no? Anyway, kudos for “Secret Deal.” After all they would have to buy the paper to be disappointed. Meanwhile, Andrea Peyser does get name-billing on the front: who IS the “$100 million divorce countess,” you ask? Of course you have to pick up the paper to find out!

Daily News: David Paterson’s a big guy on the front page of the News today, too! But not for the same reason. Liz Benjamin appears to have unearthed a confidential 2005 report with assessments of Governor Paterson’s service as Senate minority leader tucked away in a filing cabinet at the Legislative Office Building. The assessments were not good: Paterson appears to have looked like a bumbler and a cronyist. Of course, the governor ordered this “honest assessment” up himself, back when serious self-examination was the order of the day among Democrats in the minority in the State Senate. The two-page spread covering the funeral of Natasha Richardson will no doubt get read; but on the other hand, it may not be a reason for the undecided to pick up a copy at the newsstand, since there’s been plenty of coverage of Ms. Richardson’s tragic death over the weekend.

General observations: Call us cynical but the dominance of internecine politics from Albany gives us the idea that both Page One meetings were head-scratchers. This was a battle of the columnists in which Andrea Peyser gets a bye against the obvious Richardson coverage, but Albany veteran Fred Dicker goes up against relative newcomer (and, mostly, blogger!) Liz Benjamin. Ms. Benjamin had a real source and a real piece of news; unfortunately “Secret Deal to Tax ‘Rich'” sounds juicier than “Clueless Dave,” especially with that dek, which already reads like it was written by an anal-retentive fact-checker.

Winner: New York Post. Kudos to Ms. Benjamin for winning on the Paterson beat today; if only everyone hitting newsstands this morning could see that before opening the papers. Wood War! Who Wins Today’s Grabby Tabloid Battle For Your Eyeballs?