ink-stained wretches

Is the Fighting Spirit Between the New York Post and Daily News Dead? [Updated]

That’s what former New York Daily News editor Martin Dunn writes today in the Guardian. Yesterday, the New York Observer reported that not only had alleged Manhattan madam Anna Gristina bragged on tape about being “very, very close friends” with New York Post editor Col Allan, but the tabloid’s supposed sworn enemy the Daily News had the story and decided not to run it. It all gets complicated because current News editor Colin Myler is a friend and former deputy to Allan at Rupert Murdoch’s Post, but his predecessor Dunn insists that a few years ago there would’ve been blood.

Dunn remembers the good old days:

During my time as the editor-in-chief of the Daily News, it wasn’t a case of the gloves occasionally coming off — they were never on and no one bothered looking for them!

Even though Col Allan has labeled the allegations “outrageous” (a complaint that somehow never seems to generate much sympathy for a butt-kickin’ tabloid editor), the fact that the story was generated from law-enforcement sources would normally be a green light to get ink on paper. Tabloid editors have traditionally never been able to resist a punch at a rival and still raise a glass in the bar afterwards.

When Myler took over at the Daily News, it seemed like the war might really get going again because of his split with the Murdoch family over phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World, where Myler worked as editor for four years until its sudden closing. This incident shows the opposite.

In addition to the personal connection between Allan and Myler, Dunn suggests that maybe “in a climate where print products are struggling, there is a quiet understanding between News and Post owners Mort Zuckerman and Rupert Murdoch not to trash each other’s organizations. Better that dirty laundry stays hidden in the closet.” That could be, considering that the local news website DNAinfo, staffed largely by NYC tabloid veterans, ate both papers’ lunch on the Gristina story. That’s just the latest example of online media encroaching on what was historically the tabloids’ territory to fight for. Either way, Dunn writes, “both newsrooms are in a state of embarrassment.” Thank the gossip gods for the Internet then.

Update: The drama continues as Gristina claims in the Post that she does have a connection at the paper, but it’s reporter Jeane MacIntosh, not Allan. “I don’t know who Col Allan is,” she said. “I have never met him. I have never heard his name until today.” Allan added, “My attorneys are today filing a formal demand of retraction from the Observer and its publisher. The Observer’s report is nothing but a smear and a lie.”

Observer editor Elizabeth Spiers responded, “If she’s saying now that she doesn’t know Col, that’s all well and good, but that’s not what she said on the surveillance audio according to our sources. It’s certainly possible that she could have been lying on the audio. But note that we didn’t report that she was a friend of Col’s, only that she claimed to be.”

Is New York City’s Tabloid War Over?