April 13, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Iraq roars back; It’s Friday the 13th, all day long, for Imus

After a short break from violence-in-Iraq headlines, Page One editors were back in the saddle today. A suicide bomb inside Iraq’s parliament building killed at least eight people. Headlines focused on the fact that the attack came inside the “supposedly secure Green Zone”: “In Iraq, ‘nowhere is safe,’” The Oregonian, Portland. The Denver Post called it a “Brazen Baghdad strike.” Television cameras already were inside filming, and video stills of people running amid dust and debris provided illustration for many stories. Some headline writers took a stab at articulating the symbolic nature of the attack: “Blast strikes at heart of Iraq’s desperation,” St. Louis (Mo.) Post-Dispatch; “Parliamentary Attack Seen as Step Back,” The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk.

Broadcaster Don Imus had another really bad day in the headlines. CBS fired him, eight days after he made racially derogatory remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Many Page One editors saw fit to put his ouster out front, and several began to sift through past controversies: “Dismissal caps hard fall,” Courier-Post, Cherry Hill, N.J. The tabs struggled to stay clever after days of non-stop Imus headlines, and a couple succeeded: “Imus in the MOURNING,” AM, New York. Another good one: “OUT ON HIS CRASS,” Daily News, New York.

Today’s date prompted some newspapers to take a look at the origins of the belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky. In “Freaky Friday,” Chicago’s Red Eye reported around 20 million Americans suffer from “paraskevidekatriaphobia” —fear of Friday the 13th. Possible reasons:  “One hypothesis is that Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper, and Jesus was crucified the next day, a Friday. Another possibility is it that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on a Friday in the Garden of Eden.”

Adding to folks’ anxiety today, other newspapers reported, was the looming annual tax deadline. But The Herald in Monterey, Calif., reported that accountant Alan Stark isn’t one of them. He’s happily zipping through hundreds of tax forms for his clients, pulling lots of long hours: “I just love doing taxes. That’s what keeps me going.” The Herald had an even more shocking revelation: Stark doesn’t drink coffee.

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

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