Sex-peddling NY tabs lose their minds: ‘There oughta be a law against being this naughty’


The New York Post begins its provocatively illustrated cover story about Brooklyn Law School “steaming over sexy undie ads” with these words:

“There oughta be a law — against being this naughty.”

The Post might take its own advice.

Same shame for the rival Daily News, whose “WHAT BOOBS!” cover story refers to “clubs where women shake their stuff to men’s delight.”

Both the News’ Friday lead and the Post’s Saturday wood promoted legitimate stories (the Post reported how Diesel shot provocative ads in a law school library, skewering the school’s already low reputation and angering students and alumni; the News piece, by Juan Gonzalez, exposed tax breaks lavished on strip clubs).

But the titillating, risqué play may be too damn much, and the News allowed a reader to bite back in the next day’s print edition (the comment could not be found online):

My seven-year-old son has recently taken to reading the Daily News every day. On Nov. 12, after perusing your front page, he asked me what a strip club was. Care to lend a hand, Mr. Editor in Chief? By the way, I had no problem explaining the word “boob.” I just showed him your picture. John O’Hare

Predictably, the News used publication of John O’Hare’s complaint as cover to rerun its Boobs cover.

Both tabloids increasingly demonstrate on their covers — and in racy spreads inside — that they have a base assessment of their readers’ tolerance for home-delivered sewer spill. While the pages reproduced here don’t represent an every-day pattern, neither are they aberrations.

And the trend toward extreme front pages is not restricted to sex — the cover of Saturday’s Daily News ghoulishly features morgue workers dragging a body down a stairwell.

Double entendres, long the meat and potatoes of winning headlines, have become a quaint relic, supplanted by sledgehammer-wielding head writers.

New York is not London (a city proud of its racy tabs and the source of so much of New York’s tabloid talent), and newspaper readers are increasingly older, conservative folk, women and well as men.

Some New Yorkers, like John O’Hare, are concerned with leaving trash in plain view of their children (“Billy’s home from kindergarten, dear —  quick, hide the newspaper!”).

The marginal newsstand sales gained by running soft-porn covers can be lost on the home front, where the money circulation lives. Ultimately, they devalue their newspaper’s brand, turning a serious civic and business enterprise into the butt of snarky jokes.

It’s enough to consider whether there might be a broad secular market for a newspaper like Hamodia — a sex-and-scandal-free daily published for Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community that boasts it’s a newspaper you’re not ashamed to bring home.

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