TABLOIDED: Clinton and Obama Face Off

Categories: Media

Last night's Democratic debate in Ohio dominates today's tabloids, and with good reason. Chances are that next week's primaries in Texas and Ohio could be Hillary Clinton's last stand, and she is obviously drowning, not waving. Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin accuses Clinton of "too much whining," while Thomas M. DeFrank's analysis of the debate finds that a compassionate Hillary instead of Shrill Hill will win her more sympathy and a chance to stay in the race.

DeFrank also talked to a senior Republican strategist who hopes Hillary is the nominee, as she has more "negatives" that would help the GOP in the fall. This line of reasoning must explain the Post's coverage of the debate. Unlike the News, which made the debate out to be a slugfest with a few cordial moments, the Post seemed more even-handed in its coverage, especially with Maggie Haberman's recap of the actual debate. (Let's recall that the Post endorsed Obama in the New York presidential primary, while the News endorsed Clinton.) We like to think this is the Post's way of adhering to the strategy that hating Hillary in fall is going to be much easier than beating Barack. There are, however, several pieces in the Post today that point to Obama's soaring popularity. The funniest quote has to be in Geoff Earle's piece on how blue-collar voters are coming around to the Illinois Senator. Earle talks to an Ohio voter watching the debates who notes that Obama "rebuts whatever she has to say--I love that!" Um, it's a debate. Isn't that usually what happens?


Another big story getting play in today's papers is the Sean Bell trial. The News includes a strip headline about its coverage on the front, but any mention of the trial is missing from the Post's page one. (Gotta have that News Corp. synergy instead: the other two front page items concern the Fox show Moment of Truth and News Corp.'s social networking site MySpace.) Marseille Payne, a former stripper who was working at the club the night of Bell's shooting, testified yesterday. Payne's version of events does not jibe with the official police version, and the testimony does erode part of the cops' defense. Of course, since Payne was a stripper (stage name: Trini Wright), the Post's Andrea Peyser has to cluck about the woman's former career "conning guys into buying overpriced drinks, and strenuously avoiding the cops."

The News doesn't do much better, noting in a sidebar that the "funniest moment" (yes, you read that correctly) of yesterday's testimony was when "Payne bragged about her pole dancing skills." On the stand, Payne called herself "the second best pole dancer in the city," then noting, "It is what it is." The courtroom laughed at her remarks, which probably served to release tension when much of the testimony involves death and destruction. Still, the "tale of the tape"-esque sidebars in both papers seem a little too bizarre and light-hearted in nature. The Post has no "funniest moment," but does provide the recipe for a Long Island Iced Tea, the drink Bell had at Club Kalua that night.

In more cheerful crime news, the Post's MySpace story is actually pretty cute. Brooklyn teenager Yudelka Polanco was mugged a few weeks ago, and her attacker took her phone. Thanks to her technological savvy (and the mugger's stupidity), she tracked the thief down on MySpace and got pictures of him to the cops. The article makes sure to have a quote from Polanco noting, "nowadays everybody has a MySpace," a sentiment Rupert Murdoch would be more than happy to hear.

Odds and Ends
One of our favorite genre of tabloid story is the "yeah, the cops busted XYZ, but we were able to find it anyway." The Daily News does this today with counterfeit goods in Chinatown. After the seizure of $1 million worth of goods yesterday in the "counterfeit triangle" of Centre, Walker and Canal Streets, reporters were able to buy fake Louis Vuitton bags and phony Rolexes.

As baseball season is about to get underway, some NYU students are upset about this year's commencement ceremony location. Since Washington Square Park--the traditional venue for the graduation festivities--is under renovation, the university is holding commencement at Yankee Stadium on May 14. The Post talks to a few NYU students who are Red Sox and Mets fans, and they are not pleased. Who needs the steroids scandal when you have Graduationgate?

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