I'll admit, the New York Post is a guilty pleasure. It's the first paper I buy whenever I'm in the city. Like most of its readers, I take it for what it is, and enjoy it for a few minutes on the subway. It's fun and understands its role as a tabloid, which is to say, it has a sense of humor. One of the best Post headlines was a front-page spread showing Yasir Arafat's grieving wife at his funeral: "THE FAT LADY SINGS."
But New York magazine shows that the Post's coverage of the Larry Craig fiasco--perfect fodder for the tabloid--isn't even funny. You can click on a link in the Post's news story to take their "Are you a gay senator?" test, which just traffics in old stereotypes. "Do you sing show tunes in the car between political events?" it asks. Who's writing their jokes, Carlos Mencia?
A little media analysis: The Post differs from its rival, the Daily News (full disclosure: I've interned at the Daily News), in that it's not just trying to reach New York's working class, but also (if not primarily) its taste-makers, investment bankers, lawyers, media types, that is, professionals working in very, very gay-friendly environments. I imagine this affluent readership would have no problem with some tongue-in-cheek laughs at Larry Craig's expense. But picking on gays in general and doing so in a way that just isn't funny won't endear the Post to the audience it's trying to court.