At first Dr. Ink was shocked by this lead from Richard Cohen in the Washington Post:
“May I say something about Ann Coulter? She is a half-wit, a termagant, a dimwit, a blowhard, a worthless silicone nothing, physically ugly and could be likened to Eva Braun, who was Hitler’s mistress.”
“Such boldness!” thought the bold and beautiful Doc.
But then a bit of bait-and-switch from Cohen: “As it happens, these are all descriptions or characterizations Coulter uses for others in her book, ‘Slander.’ It ought to be called ‘Mirror.’”
Not exactly playing the dozens (“Yo mama so stank, she make Right Guard turn left”), but not a bad back-atcha.
In any case, Cohen’s column sent Doc off on a search for the most daring lead of all time. In this day and age, there’s little to choose from, as most newspaper leads are:
1) Plain vanilla, or
2) Cluttered and incomprehensible, or
3) Cutesy and self-indulgent.
Doc found a chestnut in an old dresser drawer, written by Ed Lahey, a famous scribe from the Chicago Daily News. Here’s the background: Clarence Darrow defended intellectual murderers Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold after they killed a man named Bobby Franks. The brainy pair thought of themselves as above the law. They were convicted of the crime, but Darrow saved them from a death sentence.
In 1936, Loeb received 58 razor cuts in the prison shower from a fellow prisoner who claimed, successfully, that he was protecting himself from Loeb’s sexual advance.
Here’s Lahey’s infamous lead:
“Richard Loeb, despite his erudition, today ended his sentence with a proposition.”
That lead was written 66 years ago, and Doc is not sure he’s seen a bolder one since. Do his faithful readers have any nominations?