Who's That Girl? The Tabloids Meet "Kristen"
As reported yesterday, the New York Times found "Kristen," a runaway and aspiring singer named Ashley Alexandra Dupre (nee Ashley Youmans). Random aside: we were chatting with folks in a coffee shop this morning, and the general consensus was that "Ashley Alexandra Dupre" is a far better call-girl name than "Kristen."
Both the Post and the Daily News splash Dupre all over the front page. The News goes with "GOV'S GIRL," as its headline, while the Post continues its giddy righteous indignation with a banner "DISGRACE" and the subhed "And don't let the door hit you on the way out." The best headline of the day, however, comes from subway tab amNewYork which declares Spitzer "OUT WITH A BANG."
The Post's "Kristen" coverage features a full page of color and black-and-white photos from Dupre's MySpace page. (Does anyone else chuckle at the corporate synergy opportunities here, as News Corporation owns both the tabloid and the social networking site?) We also get another screenshot of the Emperor's Club website, which now must be the most famous escort service in America since Heidi Fleiss's downfall. Both papers quote liberally from the Times interview, as we're sure access to Dupre is severely limited right now. Friends from high school are coming out the woodwork to assure readers that Dupre was a nice girl, who was "never slutty" (a friend quoted in the Post) or tsk-tsking that she "was one of those girl" with a bad reputation (the Daily News).
News columnist Michael Daly has an insulting column in a condescending open letter format that infantilizes Dupre and "reassuringly" leads with "No, Ashley Alexandra Dupre, you are not a monster." It later includes the dismissive "Not that you aren't pretty. You just look much more like a young woman from the Jersey Shore than some five-diamond fantasy girl." Daly does note that Dupre should get some credit for not selling her story, but the digs at her background and profession come just a little too easy. The tabloid coverage of "Kristen" wavers between smug moral superiority and empathy with a dash of condescension.