The Breakfast Table

Joni Balter and Steve Chapman


Is it just me, or did today’s papers seem full of fresh, interesting stories? For the first time in what feels like months, the news isn’t dominated by Kosovo or Littleton/gun control. I don’t aspire to being an expert on Israeli-Palestinian issues, but I can’t say I’m disheartened by the big story, that Prime Minister Netanyahu apparently is headed for defeat today. One of the challengers who pulled out of the race over the weekend is Benny Begin, son of the late PM and head of a small right-wing party, whom I mention mainly because he has the distinction of being the single most obnoxious person ever to meet with the Tribune editorial board during my 18 years here. He’s the only guest who made me want to end the meeting and evict him five minutes after he sat down–time he spent insulting and patronizing us (and Americans in general) as uninformed dolts who had no business making suggestions about how Israel should deal with the Palestinians, Who was the biggest jerk your board has ever had the pleasure of interviewing?

The best news of the morning, though, was in USA Today: Researchers have come up with an anti-allergy shot that lasts a month and reduces your symptoms by half. For those of us who suffer this time of year from hay fever, that sounds like the end of the rainbow. And it would mean I would be fully awake and alert for early-morning e-mail exchanges.

Hay fever and all, though, even the bad-news stories didn’t depress me today. The New York Times reports that the Los Angeles Times has made little progress in its goal–applauded, I’m sure, by every ink-stained wretch in America–of increasing its circulation by 50 percent (or half a million readers). That would be nice, but unlike publisher Mark Willes, I’m not sure it’s possible. Still, I don’t think that means the future is grim for newspapers; I think we’ll always have our place. I doubt that any medium can fully replace us, if only because if you get caught in the rain without an umbrella, as I did on the way to work, a newspaper is the next best thing. And you can’t buy an umbrella for 50 cents.

Speaking of bad news, the Cubs’ onetime ace closer, Rod Beck, had the latest in a series of terrible outings yesterday. I note, by contrast, that Sports Illustrated’s latest cover featured Ken Griffey Jr., who plays in your hometown. Before I got too envious, though, I noticed that the Cubs are at .500, while the Mariners are mired in last place. SI says Griffey may not want to stay in Seattle once the Mariners move into an outdoor stadium where the damp air may cost him a lot of homers, Maybe Junior would like to think about hitting at Wrigley when the wind is blowing out?