September 25, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Bush’s ‘dire’ message tops news from presidential campaign

There were some tough calls to be made last night in the nation's newsrooms. Lead with President Bush’s dreary address to the nation on the economic crisis or go with Sen. John McCain's call to delay Friday's debate with Sen. Barack Obama in light of the financial situation?

A scan of the front pages shows that most newspapers went with the Bush speech. "Our Entire Economy is in Danger," reads the headline in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Indianapolis Star and many others, quoting the president. (And with headlines like that, who needs coffee?)

It appears headline writers might have dug into their thesauruses last night to convey the news that things aren't good right now. Two popular words? "Dire" and "peril." "Bush makes dire appeal for fast bailout," reads the top of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. The Tulsa (Okla.) World leads with "Bush warns of economic peril."

Meanwhile, the Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) makes Bush's plea sound like an office memo from your cranky boss. "Bush: Enact Bailout ASAP." And the one headline that White House spin-meisters might put in their scrapbook is from the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal, which declares "Bush's Talk Gets High Marks."

No doubt Mississippi will be plenty disappointed if tomorrow's debate is canceled. Its front pages reflect that gloom: "Debate or Bailout?" screams the headline of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, while The Commercial Appeal from neighboring Tennessee asks, "Debate on Hold?"

A few papers put the debate question in a term that any sports fan — or disciplining parent — can relate to. "Time Out?" asks the Stamford, Conn., Advocate. "Calling a Timeout," writes The Denver Post on McCain's announcement.

The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News manages to get both issues up front with the aesthetically pleasing, side-by-side headline that reads "Debate Or No Debate?" and "Bailout Or No Bailout?"

And we know that it's more than a month before Halloween, but we are really digging the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune headline on the economy that reads simply "Meltdown" in a ghoulish, green font that is a must-see.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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