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Trump Comments, Terror Events Provide Punch For Tabloid Front Pages


On Twitter yesterday, Matt Storin, the former editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, wrote that the paper has found its long-lost mojo. The tabloid has run much-noted front pages recently, like one that essentially compared Donald Trump to Hitler. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik says it's one of many news outlets who are speaking boldly.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Jim Rich is editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News.

JIM RICH: We have an old saying. It's whether it's a headline or a story, you want to make somebody laugh, cry, get angry, but you never want to make them yawn.

FOLKENFLIK: Not a lot of yawning lately over the Daily News, given the social media atta-boys and outrage inspired by its front pages. Take yesterday's.

RICH: Our editorial cartoonist, Bill Bramhall - just another work of genius by him, illustrating Trump almost as if he's a member of ISIS, beheading the Statue of Liberty.

FOLKENFLIK: And that was not the over-the-top part. The newspaper's front page text basically compared Trump to the Nazis, invoking a poem about the Holocaust involving the failure of people conscience to speak out. Rich says the classic tabloid front-page carries both precision and a punch.

RICH: You want the reader to get the most out of the story and out of the presentation, but you're also looking to make them feel something, as well.

FOLKENFLIK: Its history is rippling with classics. Think of Ford to City - Drop Dead during New York's bankruptcy crisis in 1975. The Daily News embraced gun violence as a cause three years ago after a massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. When the Daily News called the Muslim shooters in San Bernardino terrorists last week on its front page, a headline also pointed to non-Muslim, white mass killers and a top executive of the National Rifle Association. Such advocacy has appeared in other media markets, too. Stephen Henderson is the editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press.

STEPHEN HENDERSON: We are, right now, sort of in a very strange time in this country where there are a lot of issues that are at the boiling point.

FOLKENFLIK: Greater Detroit has a sizable Islamic population. Yesterday, the Free Press ran a front-page editorial titled "We Stand Together: We Are Better Than Bigotry" directly denouncing Trump. Henderson says the moment demands greater engagement.

HENDERSON: It sort of calls us at the newspaper - and particularly on editorial pages - to a higher pitch right now because things seem so tense and the outcomes seem so freighted with history and cultural importance.

FOLKENFLIK: Last Saturday, The New York Times ran its own page-one editorial - it's first in more than 90 years - calling for eliminating some assault style weapons. Other journalists have also found a more assertive voice.


TOM BROKAW: Trump's statement, even in a season of extremes, is a dangerous proposal that overrides history, the law and the foundation of America itself.

FOLKENFLIK: That's retired NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on the "NBC Nightly News," the most watched TV newscast in the country. On Tuesday evening, he broadcast a very unusual and very pointed editorial against Trump's stance towards Muslims.


BROKAW: In my lifetime alone, we have been witness to the consequences of paranoia overriding reason.

FOLKENFLIK: For conventional newspapers and broadcasters, this is fresher terrain, at least in the modern era. For the New York Daily News, it's been a return to form. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.

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