June 27, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

‘Secrets’ leave a lot to be desired; wrestler’s exit sparks speculation

The New York Times and other major dailies splashed a story about newly uncovered “CIA skeletons” across their front pages today, and headlines led readers to conclude that the revelations — involving wiretaps, assassination plots and “mind control” — would, well, reveal some juicy information. But a closer read showed that reporters were frustrated that they could still drive a truck through the story’s holes: “Large sections are censored, showing that the C.I.A. still cannot bring itself to expose all the skeletons in its closet,” the Times said in the fourth graf. Several editors focused on the details of a plan, launched in 1960, to kill our communist neighbor to the south: “Records confirm plot to kill Castro,” Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald. The Washington Post bumped the CIA story down the food chain in favor of its ongoing investigative series on Vice President Dick Cheney.

A sad tale of murder and suicide that dominated yesterday’s cable news coverage got somewhat more restrained coverage on today’s front pages. Professional wrestler Chris Benoit, known as the “Canadian Crippler,” apparently killed his wife and son at their Fayette, Ga., home over the weekend, and then killed himself. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a large package titled “Murder-suicide rocks wrestling fans, Fayette.” But other headline writers went straight to the “why” part of the story, and came up with the same speculation: “Was it ‘roid rage?”, AM New York; “’Roid Rage Eyed in Slayings,” Calgary Sun.

On to more pleasant topics. A business story got a front-page play as consumers must be about to blow a gasket over a new tech toy: the iPhone, on sale Friday. Silicon Valley editors weren’t the only ones on the iPhone watch. Down in Lufkin, Texas, the Daily News exhorted its readers: “Want one of these? Get in line. Lufkin has only store in Deep East Texas that will be selling Apple’s new iPhone on Friday.”

Today’s headline double-take award goes to the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune: “Inmate’s quest for new sex in court.” Turns out convicted murderer Robert J. Kosilek wants the state to pay for his sex-change operation. And he’d like to be called Michelle.

Finally, a happy tale with Page One play from The Middleton (Ohio) Journal: “A bewitching stroke of luck for one black cat.” Columnist Rick McCrabb entertained readers with the odyssey of a skinny kitty named Salem, who wandered away from his owners and ended up in various shelters and adopted homes, alternately named Elvis and Ralph. Through a twist of fate – otherwise known as a lost-cat poster – Kathryn and Jon Snowden eventually were reunited with Salem, four months later. “We were all meant to be together,” Kathryn told the Journal.

Christy Mumford Jerding is the editorial director of the Freedom Forum.

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