October 17, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

A few cracks in story of Joe the Plumber

While the economy remains topic du jour in the nation’s newspapers, it’s a bald plumber named Joe who’s clogging up a lot of front-page space today.

Wall Street continues to perform like a wildly gyrating elevator with the Dow Jones shooting up over 400 points yesterday. A front page headline on The Day (New London, Conn.) reads positively frantic: “It’s down. No, it’s up again! No, it’s down…”

Seniors got some good news yesterday with the announcement that Social Security checks are going up almost 6% next year and several papers take note. “Seniors secure a raise,” blares The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. “Social Security gets pay raise,” reads the banner headline in The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wis.).

But Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher is the man today. In Wednesday’s presidential debate, John McCain said the plumber would be negatively affected by Barack Obama’s tax plan. Obama disagreed and, from there, Joe’s name was volleyed back and forth like a cheap rubber gasket.

His 15 minutes arrived.

“Move over, Britney,” writes the Los Angeles Times above a story about the plumber’s new-found fame. “Much ado about Joe,” declares The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.).

Upon further review, though, it turns out that Joe doesn’t have a plumbing license, owes back taxes to the state of Ohio and might not be hurt by Obama’s tax plan after all.

“Joe the Plumber? His tale has a few leaks,” is how The Miami Herald put it. “‘Joe the plumber’ story springs a few leaks,” counters the Idaho Statesman in Boise.

Some papers focused on their own “Local Joes.” The Ventura County (Calif.) Star profiles plumber Joe Lara, who recalls how media from around the world contacted him Wednesday night mistakenly thinking he was the plumber referenced in the debate.

A Providence Journal story headlined “Just Ask Joe” interviews plumbers in Rhode Island — named Joe — about their presidential picks.

Finally, this Red Sox fan would be remiss not to note the team’s miraculous and historic comeback last night from a 7-0 deficit against the Tampa Bay Rays in game 5 of the American League playoffs. “Heartbreaker,” writes the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times about its team’s 8-7 loss.

As any Red Sox fan can tell you, we know all about heartbreak.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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