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In Ledger Mystery, ‘Post’ Goes After Mary-Kate. Cops, Not as Much

Mary Kate Post Cover
We'll admit it: When we saw the cover of the Post today, we felt a little bad for Mary-Kate Olsen. Sure, it was weird that she didn't tell her masseuse to call 911 immediately after the employee found Heath Ledger's dead body, but everything happened quickly, and she did try to help. Why was it suddenly her responsibility to take care of things? She's only 13 years old for Pete's sake. The "HEAT IS ON MARY KATE" headline, followed by the "Cops to grill her in death" kicker, seemed a little aggressive. And, we've just found out, it's not even true. Both Us Weekly and TMZ.com are reporting that Mary-Kate will not be questioned. "We have absolutely no interest in talking to Mary-Kate," a police source explained today. Now, if you look closely at the Post story, buried at the bottom, another cop source said the same thing. "Law enforcement sources last night said they did not think there was anything suspicious about either [the masseuse's] or Olsen's conduct," their story said. So the heat, technically, was not on her at any time. Except, of course, from the Post. Police Source: Mary-Kate Olsen Will Not Be Grilled Over Heath Ledger Calls [Us Weekly] Mary-Kate Story Bogus [TMZ.com] MARY KATE OLSEN ON THE HOT SEAT [NYP]

Mon Dieu! French Fraud Costs Bank $7 Billion

FINANCE • Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has some big plans at Davos this year: "Number one on my list is world peace." [MarketBeat/WSJ, DealBook/NYT] • Looks like Steve Schwarzman is green only with greed — his newest moneymaking scheme hinges on building huge coal plants in pristine locales in the American West. [Fortune] • Société Générale, the second biggest bank in France, found that one of its "plain vanilla" traders had taken "massive fraudulent directional positions…far beyond his limited authority" that would ultimately end up costing the bank $7 billion. It is, according to the Times, "an exceptional fraud." Seriously! Quelle balls! [NYT]

The ‘Post’ Has a Giant, Crazy Crush

New York Post
Okay. We love the Post. We really do. And not even just the ironic way we "loved" it yesterday when a homeless person in a wheelchair was masturbating on the subway while we were on our way to work, and his shoe fell off and nobody on the train even noticed. Like, we actually look forward to the Post every day. But we have to say, there's something a little demented about its Giants coverage. At the beginning of the week, the tabloid devoted its entire cover to a Jessica Simpson look-alike, who they claim distracted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into losing Sunday's game (Romo, for those of you lucky enough not to know, is dating the real Simpson and she's been credited with giving him bad luck when she attends games). This one stunt wasn't enough, though. They took the poor girl to New York this week on a victory tour, with an online video on Tuesday and another article on Wednesday. And now today, the paper has another superstitious trick up its sleeve. After reports that the manager of a TV station in Green Bay, Wisconsin, will yank Eli Manning's favorite show, Seinfeld, from the airwaves while the Giants are in town to play the Packers, the Post talked Jerry Seinfeld himself into sending the Giants quarterback a complete DVD set. Seinfeld said he'd also be "dispatching George Costanza to be the new traveling secretary for the Packers." (Those of you who are fans of the show will get the reference.) It's funny coverage, sure, but it's just kind of getting lazy at this point. In fact, one of the "Giants fans" they quoted at the end of the article works for the Post. Come on, guys. Isn't there a brilliant pun headline you could have come up with instead of all of this? Or maybe a Photoshopped picture of Tom Brady's head on McLovin's body? YADDA YADDA YADDA [NYP] Related Which Episode of 'Seinfeld' Should Eli Watch Before He Loses to the Packers? [Vulture]

‘Portfolio’ Still Looking Elsewhere for Inspiration

Portfolio and New York
Have you noticed that all of the news about the Great Condé Nast Reshuffling of 2008 has emerged from Women's Wear Daily? It's becoming the mouthpiece of the company's HR department. (Or maybe the news is all a little too boring for anyone else to care about.) After a week of updates about shifts and firings on the business side at Condé titles Vogue, Golf Digest, Lucky, Teen Vogue, and The New Yorker, WWD today tells us about Portfolio (this month's cover pictured here). Apparently the business mag's editor, Joanne Lipman, tapped recently departed Post metro editor, Dan Colarusso, to run its growing Website. Also, to fill new Portfolio publisher William Li's absence at Men's Vogue, Condé looked within its walls to Details associate publisher, Marc Berger. We'd walk you through all of the changes that came last week, but the most telling detail is already above: While the rest of Condé Nast continues to recruit talent only from inside the company, Portfolio continues to look outside for fresh ideas! New Titles All Around [WWD]

No New British Editor Yet for New York's Hometown Newspaper

After the Post's to-do today about Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman's search for a new editor, Portfolio scribe Jeff Bercovici spoke with current editor Martin Dunn about the whole thing (something Kelly, despite a source inside the News, did not manage to do). Bercovici wondered whether the search for a new editor meant anything was going to change for Dunn himself.
"I signed a new contract last year," [Dunn] says. "We were working on it from last September. There wasn't a great deal of rush because I wasn't going anywhere, anyway. So I'm definitely tied in for the next couple of years, at least, and probably longer."
Dunn also explained that he will remain editor-in-chief of the tabloid, which means that any high-profile British editor (like Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace, who Kelly reports has talked to the News and turned them down thus far) will have to fill a different role. "We've got some big announcements coming up in the first part of this year," Dunn said. "Major announcements, which are going to cause huge amounts of extra work." Ooh! Like what? Surely not another ill-fated weekly celebrity magazine. Perhaps a new Web presence to compete with PageSix.com? A full-fledged national edition? Ooh, ooh! We know! A Website with live streaming video: AllCopFuneralsAllTheTime.com! Daily News EIC: Actually, I Have a New Contract [Mixed Media/Portfolio] MIRROR ON THE WALL [NYP]

Hillary Clinton Is Way Beyond Being Damaged By Her Deadbeat Brother

Today's Post is very proud of itself for breaking the story that Hillary Clinton's brother, Anthony, is behind on alimony and child-support payments. The story is full of innuendo that this news will affect her presidential race. It "won't be a welcome development for Hillary Clinton, coming as the too-close-to-call battle for the Democratic presidential nomination reaches a fevered pitch," the paper explains. But what we can't help but appreciate is that this story probably won't matter for Hillary. Sure, it's a good story – the ex-wife that Anthony Rodham is stiffing is the daughter of California Senator Barbara Boxer. That's gotta lend itself to some awkward Democratic holiday-party chatter. But stories like this (Mike Huckabee's Son Killed a Dog! Rudy's Daughter Is Voting for Obama! Obama's Real Estate Buddy Is Shady! Mitt Romney's Son Is a Little Gay-Seeming!) just don't seem to take hold this year.

Questioning the ‘Times’ Dogs

There are a few things we can't wrap our heads around with this whole story about Blackwater shooting one of the New York Times' dogs in Baghdad. One of them is, why does the Times bureau have dogs? It wasn't someone's personal pet, according to the stories. It was a pet shared by the residents of the Times compound. Even a Huffington Post blogger who was bitten by one of them doesn't explain why they are there. Another question is this: On a day when Britney Spears's 16-year-old sister gets knocked up, who at the Post thought it would be a good idea to split the cover between the pregnancy story and a drawing of a doghouse with "Pooch Sulzberger" written on it? The Spears family is like the mother lode (ha, they're all mothers now) for the Post. Over the years, the paper's probably devoted more ink to hating them than to hating Al Gore. But somehow a cheap joke comparing Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger to a dead dog elbowed Jamie Lynn halfway off the cover. And finally, how come everybody who has written about it gets to use a "this time the deadly shooting in Baghdad was of a dog" joke? How is that, in any way, appropriate? Ha-ha! Murders are so common here, it's funny when something dies that isn't an American! That's a real home run. New York Times in Iraq: Blackwater Shot Our Dog [Reuters]

The New York ‘Post’: A Psycho's Best Friend

Perhaps you, like us, read the Post's lengthy interview with fake fireman/sexual assailant Peter Braunstein this past weekend, in which he expresses regret about not killing his ex-girlfriend Jane Larkworthy and details a murder fantasy about New York reporter Vanessa Grigoriadis? And perhaps you, like us, asked yourself this: Isn't it kind of weird and creepy that the Post sent a reporter to spend three days at the Clinton Correctional Facility indulging the murderous woman-hating fantasies of an avowed psycho? And isn't it kind of strange and sick-making that they named the people he fantasizes about killing and furthermore put them in big puffy pull quotes? Wouldn't it be awful, if you were one of those people, to read someone's death fantasy about you in the paper? And finally, of particular interest to us: Isn't this the paper that recently allowed a reporter to air his own weird rape fantasy about Grigoriadis? We decided to ignore that at the time, since it was such an obvious and egregious error in judgment. (One which others were happy to point out rather forcefully.) Since there's no news hook to the most recent story (Braunstein is two years into his prison sentence which is scheduled to last another sixteen), we can only assume they're just exploiting the gruesome details for shock value. Which, well, duh, it's the Post; there's a reason people spend 25 cents on it. But at this point, we have to wonder if the Post's editors have spent so long playing up to their rough-hewn, hard-drinking image that they've lost all sense of perspective.

Rupert's Fingers Already Closing Around the Heart of the ‘Journal’

MEDIA • Rupert Murdoch won't officially take over the Journal until tomorrow, but he's already dipped his tentacles deep into the paper. Rumor has it the Journal will dismiss two or three dozen people, to be replaced with Rupe's cronies, and then go on a hiring spree. Oh, and apparently Murdoch briefly considered dropping "Wall Street" from the title. Tells you something about where the paper's headed. [NYT] • Sadly, Jane Pratt won't actually be starring in a reality-TV show titled American Ugly, as we reported yesterday. C'mon Jane, don't you love us? [Mixed Media/Portfolio] • New York Post "Metro" editor Dan Colarusso, whom Col Allan praised as "a quintessential New Yorker," walked out of the newsroom and quit yesterday. No word on why, but seems pretty quintessential to us. [Runnin' Scared/VV]

Pandit and Willumstad to Share the Ultimate Power?

FINANCE • The newest Citigroup rumors suggest a "tag team at the top": Financial whiz Vikram Pandit will take over as CEO, while the more socially astute Robert Willumstad handles chairman duties. We're just not sure "tag team" means the same thing for us as it does the Times? [DealBook/NYT] • Morgan Stanley issued a full recession alert for the U.S. economy today in the oh-so-subtly titled "Recession Coming." Meanwhile, a recent Journal poll of top economists puts the risk of recession at 38 percent. [Telegraph, WSJ] • Thirtysomething Blackstone real-estate guru Jonathan Gray is getting rather comfortable in the top tier of the young establishment. [DealBook/NYT]

The ‘Times’ Gets All Pouty About Mitt Romney


Yesterday's speech by Mitt Romney on religion was big news. Forced, like JFK was decades ago, to explain his religion to voters in order to dispel any alienation they might feel, the Mormon candidate made a heartfelt speech mimicking the one made by his Catholic predecessor in 1960. In Texas, he delivered "Faith in America," a sermon he says he wrote himself. Naturally, when we opened today's papers, we were interested to see New York's take on a speech that was so plainly not directed at voters here. The reviews were nearly unanimously positive. "Romney created the most presidential 20 minutes of his campaign," reported Tom DeFrank in the Daily News. "He demonstrated the courage of controversial convictions by refusing to equivocate about his beliefs. Simultaneously, he struck a Kennedy-esque chord."

‘Post’ Exposes a Truly Trouble-ing Mess

Today's Post is the only paper reporting what's really going on in the perilous personal life of one of New York's living landmarks. The tabloid details the trauma and despair filling the life of Trouble, Leona Helmsley's dog (who inherited $12 million after her owner died earlier this year). In an investigative coup, the Post learned (from watching CBS News) that the dog has received kidnapping and death threats. In a bold cover story we learn how the brave actions of just a few people swept her out of harm's way in a set of brilliant — but dangerous! — last-minute maneuvers. This past month, Trouble's alert security detail smuggled the four-and-a-half-pound dog out of Connecticut, where she had been living, and delivered her to Sarasota, Florida, where she is "wintering." "We had to change her name, even to take her on the aircraft," said John Codey, the Helmsley executive in charge of Trouble's trust fund. "We called her Bauble instead of Trouble." Codey is the financier who helps the dog, who had been living in a 28-room mansion, spend roughly $300,000 a year from her inheritance. Now, everybody, get out your typewriters and peck out an angry letter to every other newspaper in the city. This is the type of coverage that sets the Post apart. IN-DOG-NITO IN FLORIDA [NYP]

So, Did Eliot Spitzer's License Issue Affect the Elections?

Eliot Spitzer
For the morning after the New York State elections, how about a nice little comparison of headlines and ledes? From today's New York Times:
New York Democrats Say License Issue Had Little Effect
Democrats declared yesterday that Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants had not proved to be the electoral boon Republicans had hoped for in local elections…
From today's New York Post:
Upstate Republicans yesterday got an electoral lift from Gov. Spitzer's controversial plan to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
That was educational, wasn't it?

‘News’ Back Ahead of ‘Post’ In Circulation Numbers Again

Daily News
Well, well, well. After the much-hyped circulation surge of the New York Post last year, which propelled the scrappy tabloid over the head of the Daily News, the News has clawed its way back to supremacy. The Audit Bureau of Circulation reports that the more liberal tabloid is once again the fifth largest newspaper in the country (Also, the Times circ took a hit, but that’s not fun, just depressing). The annoying 25-cent tabloid switcheroo earlier this year may have had something to do with the reversed numbers, or the fact that the News has really been ramping up its celebrity coverage (Full disclosure, Daily Intel editor Chris Rovzar was formerly employed by the News). Obviously, that paper will have some tepidly triumphant cover page tomorrow, but what we really can't wait to see is how the genius headline writers at the Post will handle it. Will they go with, PRIDE COMES BEFORE THE FALL? Or, DAILY SNOOZE SLEEPWALKS TO SUCCESS? When they surged ahead last year, they ran the banner hed: THANK YOU NEW YORK. Maybe this time they'lll go with: FUCK YOU NEW YORK. Probably they'll choose something optimistic, like POST CIRCULATION STILL GROWING. But what we'd really like to see is a good old, HEY 'NEWS': SUCK IT. Many Top Papers Take Big Hits [Editor & Publisher]

Even the Tabloids Don't Think the ‘Box Rapist’ Is Very Punny

The Box
We have to hand it to the Post and the Daily News. They've treated the story of the serial rapist who preys outside of the trendy Box nightclub with relative sincerity. Not even a "BEHIND THE VELVET RAPES" headline. It's probably because this is the intersection of the two kinds of stories the tabloids do best: serious, grim-faced crime reporting, and salacious celebrity fixation. It turns out that a man posing as a livery driver abducted and sexually assaulted two women (one in September and one on Friday) from in front of the club at 3 a.m., while partygoers stumbled in and out. The club is popular with celebrities, who perform on its tiny stage and line its cozy banquettes nearly every night. In both cases the stalker stole money using the women's ATM cards, raped them, and then dumped them in an outer borough. Luckily, both women gave descriptions of the man and there were witnesses who saw the cars he was driving, so police have several leads.* Hunt on for Lower E. Side Club Rapist [NYDN] Fiend Rapes 2 Club Gals [NYP] *If the tabs aren't going to crack a joke, we aren't touching it with a ten-foot pole.

A-Rod: What World Series?

Alex Rodriguez
Did you hear that the Red Sox won the World Series last night? No? Was it because everybody was talking about how A-Rod went free agent, as was announced during the game? After Rodriguez's shameless agent, Scott Boras, upstaged game four by releasing the news during the early innings, it was all anyone could yammer about. Sure, the Series had been a little boring, and yeah, A-Rod has no reason to love the Sox, but couldn't they have at least thrown the Rockies a bone? A young team with a thrilling (if disappointing) moment in the spotlight, having their last moments in the sun robbed by a man who is just hoping to make more money next year. Kinda sucks, huh? Anyway, if you didn't hear about the Red Sox last night on TV or radio, surely you saw the news in this morning's paper. Oh, you didn't? You must read the Daily News or the Post, where the Series news was relegated to tiny text ribbons on the front and back pages, dwarfed by coverage of the Yankees. Well, just FYI: The Red Sox won the World Series. Not that you wanted to know. You're a New Yorker, after all. A-Rod Putting Himself Above the Game [ESPN]

‘Preppy Killer’ Arrest: A Time to Meditate

Robert Chambers
Today's coverage of Robert "the Preppy Killer" Chambers's drug bust came with several moral lessons — courtesy of the cops and neighbors who helped bring Chambers down. For your edification, some pearls of wisdom: • With enough cocaine, one can "levitate to Central Park." —A police source • Drug dealers "are like vampires. They only come out at night." —An anonymous neighbor • With crack, women take a harder whack. "He's still a handsome guy. You know, tall, blue eyes. But [also accused girlfriend Shawn Kovell] is a different thing. She was beautiful once, but now she looks about 89 and weighs about 45 pounds." —Another anonymous neighbor • People never learn. "The guy had a second chance and he blew it. He's like OJ." —An anonymous building employee • "Three strikes, you're out." —Ellen Levin, mother of Jennifer Levin, the girl Chambers killed in 1986 Tabloid sources. The Zen masters of our time. Preppy Killer Chambers Busted [NYP] Preppy Killer in Coke Bust [NYDN]

‘Post’ and ‘Daily News’ to Face Off Over Tenth Avenue?

The Observer reports today that News Corp. has thrown its name into the hat to compete for the right to build over the Hudson Yards. That pits them against Condé Nast, which is also fighting for the use of the space to build an office tower. As Gawker notes, that will be a battle royale. But we think it will be nothing compared to the endless skirmishes that will go on if News Corp. (and developer Related) move in there and all Post workers are faced with commuting to work with all of the Daily News employees who work right next door. Mort Zuckerman's Boston Properties owns the only private building that already straddles the Hudson Yards, on Tenth Avenue between 31st and 33rd. It houses the News, the Associated Press, and Channel 13. If News Corp. develops the rest of the Hudson Yards, they'll sit right across Tenth Avenue. Since Murdoch is fond of putting up hilariously competitive billboards (this month's giant "Six Appeal" advertisement shills for the tab's Page Six Magazine) in that terrain for News employees to enjoy on their walk to work, we can only imagine how things will escalate. Though Zuckerman employees can look forward to one thing that's guaranteed, at least: The neighborhood would finally get a decent bar! Murdoch and Newhouse Battle for West Side [NYO]

‘Post’ Tries to Find Someone Else to Lynch

As we never would have guessed, the Columbia noose scandal has blown up in the pages of the tabloids. It's worth the ink, but we couldn't help but notice the different ways the New York papers have handled the role of Madonna Constantine's rival professor, Suniya Luthar (who is Indian). The two had some professional scuffles that resulted in Constantine filing a defamation suit against Luthar in May. The Daily News mentions her name in its main article, making it clear, though, that Luthar was "not a suspect" in a police investigation of the noose incident. The Times was even vaguer, protecting Luthar from the ire of readers by leaving her name out of its coverage entirely. Since police say there are no "persons of interest" in the case so far, both papers seem to reason, why drag Luthar's name through the mud? For salaciousness' sake, of course! That's why the Post devoted an entire article to the Luthar-Constantine spat, implied that Luthar was being questioned suspiciously in the headline, and ran a giant picture of her across page six of the paper. We love Post logic: Why only have one person's life be traumatized when you could have two? Sleuths Seek to Question Rival in 'Smear' [NYP]