Today's Papers

Barbour’s Chair

USA Today leads with black–Andrew Cunanan. The Washington Post leads with white–William Brennan. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times opt for gray–Haley Barbour.

Within 48 hours after the Versace murder, reports USAT, Cunanan called someone he knew for help getting a passport. That person did not notify the authorities at the time, but did offer the information sometime later when the FBI contacted him. The cops are still trying to determine if any associates of Cunanan helped hide him while he was a fugitive. Adds USAT: At the time of the suicide, the trail was turning cold, and case investigators had never even considered suicide as a possibility. The LAT runs its front-page Cunanan story under a big FBI “Wanted” flier with a slash marked “Found Dead” running across the suspected murderer’s face.

The WP goes six columns across at the top, all under a banner headline, in its coverage of the death of retired Justice Brennan, yesterday at age 91. Brennan left his greatest mark, says the Post, as “the architect of rulings that expanded rights of racial minorities and women; led to reapportionment of voting districts guaranteeing the ideal of “one person, one vote;” and enhanced First Amendment freedom for newspapers and other media.” The NYT notes that during his tenure, Brennan had signed his name to 1,360 opinions.

According to the two Times, former Republican Party chairman Barbour was in the witness chair at the fundraising hearings to discuss a $2.1 million loan guarantee from a Hong Kong businessman, Ambrous T. Young, to an organization Barbour started up called the National Policy Forum. Barbour claimed that the transaction was completely legal and just like those made by such research outfits as the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. The Democrats suggest it was a scheme for channeling foreign money into Republican coffers. Barbour also testified that he didn’t know the money had come from Hong Kong. “It’s hard for me to accept that you didn’t know this money was coming from Hong Kong,” committee member Sen. Joseph Lieberman is quoted as saying. “My God, you went to Hong Kong to see Mr. Young.”

BTW, according to the “Washington Wire” column in today’s Wall Street Journal, “A memo prepared before Barbour’s trip to China last year reminds an aide to brief him on Chinese ‘protocol’ including ‘burping, spitting, hookers in hotel, chopsticks, gifts, etc.’”

Both the LAT and NYT are on the front page with the news that in Dallas yesterday, a jury found the local Roman Catholic diocese liable for $120 million in damages in connection with a sex abuse complaint brought against a priest by 10 men and the family of another who committed suicide.

Tucked deep inside the WP is word that President Clinton’s quick recovery from his knee injury “was the result of his using a new hot tub on the West Lawn out by the swimming pool.” The device was donated to the White House by the manufacturer, Watkins Manufacturing. It’s the company’s biggest–a seven-seater that retails for $8,100–and comes with two Moto-Massagers. “Those are,” explains the Post, “the jets that go up and down your back and make you so mellow that it’s advisable not to enter budget talks for at least two hours afterward, lest you agree to scrap capital gains taxes altogether.”