TABLOIDED: The Oscars (and Maybe a Little Hard News)
So, at last night's budget meeting (which, if you're watching this season of The Wire, you'd know as the meeting when editors determine what goes where in the paper), were the powers-that-be swilling coffee out of their Garfield "Mondays Suck" mugs? We think so, because that has to be the only reason that the Oscars would dominate the front pages when there were two super-tragic, tabloid-ready stories that broke last night: a triple homicide of kids in Long Island and a woman who died on a flight from Haiti to JFK. Why bum everyone out on Monday morning with the murder of three children allegedly at the hands of their own mother when you can ask, "WHO'S TAT GIRL!" about Juno scribe Diablo Cody? (And, again, we must inform the Post that the proper punctuation to end a question is a question mark, not an exclamation point.)
This is not to say that the Oscars aren't newsworthy. In fact, three pictures of Academy Award winners grace the front page of the New York City edition of the Times. But the three children murdered also made the front of the "paper of record." It just seems the Post was ready for Oscar and determined to not let anything else get in its way. The front of the Post boasts "12 pages of gossip, fashion, & more," and by golly, do we get it. We know who was well dressed (Helen Mirren and Anne Hathaway) and who wasn't (the aforementioned Cody and Best Supporting Actress winner Tilda Swinton). There's dish about the after-parties (expect Page Six, Gatecrasher and their ilk to ride that wave for much of the week), and reviews of the ads. Really, there's almost no point to watching the broadcast, as the Post lets you relive almost every minute of it.
The Daily News highlights the "foreign" aspect of the Oscars on its front page, with pictures of Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard and Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis. The tabloid also has room for other stories: the start of the trial of three cops who shot Sean Bell 50 times on his wedding day and the "poop" on our new favorite colorful character, that cranky super from last week. It seems that despite his angry signs that tell tenants in his Bay Ridge building to clean up after themselves, he chucks his dog crap into the street. Nice.
Both papers do have some coverage of the murders, in which Leatrice Brewer, 27, is accused of drowning her three children: daughter Jewell Ward, 6, and sons Michael Demesyeux, 5, and Innocent Demesyeux, Jr., 1. Brewer had a history of mental problems, and according to both papers, she snapped when she didn't get a government check she was expecting. The News is the clear winner in the coverage, as they have an exclusive interview with the father of the boys. Both papers do have a quotes from Innocent Demesyeux, Sr., but he told the News that Brewer "wanted to kill them." Demesyeux says he told authorities, but he was rebuffed. Ricky Ward, the father of Jewell Ward, tells the Post that he also warned the court of Brewer's erratic behavior.
We're curious to see how this story will play out in light of the "East Side Butcher" case from earlier this month. This could be part of a crusade on the part of the papers to "get the psychos off the street." The cynic in us also wonders if this would be front-page material today if the victims were white.
The other tabloid tragedy today is the fate of Carine Desir, who died on her flight from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti to JFK Friday. Desir was suffering from shortness-of-breath, and when she was administered oxygen, the tanks "failed to work" (News) or "were empty" (Post). To be fair, it is a relative of Desir's who told both papers that the tanks were empty. The Post chose the more sensational tack in its lead. This is another story prime for the front page it has tragedy and a built-in critique of one of the most hated industries, the airlines.
We'll have to wait and see if Tuesday is going to be more tragic than this Manic Monday.