Of life's guilty pleasures the NY Post ranks somewhere near the top for me. Never having mastered the elusive art of newspaper folding that would allow me to bring along my Wall Street Journal, I've always found the Post to be the best way to make the crowded morning commute by subway tolerable (it's certainly better than watching the grim expressions of fellow passengers crammed in like sardines).
There are many things that make the Post entertaining, if not always tasteful. When a man commits suicide in the New York Times he might "take his own life" whereas in the Post he is more likely to have "blown his brains out". I can take or leave the gossip but I've always enjoyed the hard-boiled prose written by people like Steve Dunleavy. The right wing politics often do not conform to my own views but are usually reasonably well argued and are almost always presented in an entertaining way. Lots of people have made arguments about the dangers of a society that increasingly requires its news to be "entertaining" (including Neil Postman in his wonderful book "Entertaining Ourselves to Death") but when trapped underground for 20 minutes every morning I dont find that sort of thing problematic.
Every once in a blue moon, the Post gives it readers a truly wonderful surprise: a politically charged photoshop job like this morning's "Surrender Monkeys" which ranks up there with the wonderful "UN Weasels" cover from a few years back. I've always been a big fan of John Heartfield, who along w/ Hannah Hoch, George Grosz, and Kurt Schwitters pioneered the use of photomontage in the early days of Dada. Heartfield is perhaps best known for his covers for AIZ, a socialist illustrated magazine that was extremely critical of Hitler's Germany and produced some of the most powerful and visually stunning propaganda of all time. These days with the advent of photoshop, photomontage has become a relatively mainstream visual technique that is commonly found in advertisements but can occasionally still be entertaining (as seen on sites like worth1000) or even fresh and engaging (as in the works of artists like Eduardo Recife or Julian Pacaud).
What's always amazing to me about these Post covers is the use of photomontage to present hard news stories and the complete lack of apprehension on the part of the editorial team to put out such anachronistic, naked propaganda. I'm under no delusions that the NY Times, Washington Post or any other paper also have their own agendas but I can't think of any other mainstream news publication that is able to put their political views out there so succinctly, in such a visually powerful manner and with a healthy sense of humor. While the Post's covers are nowhere near as eloquent as the ones that graced AIZ, I can't help but think of Heartfield every time I come across one of these images early in the morning.