Today's Papers

Briefings Encounters

Nobody has the same lead story today. The Washington Post leads with “the most extensive and far-reaching reforms” ever proposed for the UN–which means, it turns out, neither staff nor budget cuts. The New York Times saves its top right for the first-ever comprehensive Medicare audit, which reveals that “the government overpaid hospitals, doctors and other health care providers last year by $23 billion, or 14 percent of all the money spent in the standard Medicare program.” The Los Angeles Times leads with California Governor Pete Wilson’s proposal of a $1 billion dollar state tax cut. The LAT says the benefits would extend up to those who earn $100,000 a year, then calls it a “middle class” tax cut. USA Today leads with yesterday’s big news on Wall St.–the Dow breaking 8000.

But there’s a lot of agreement about what belongs on the front page. Dow 8000 is there also for the LAT, the WP, and the Wall Street Journal. (But not, somewhat surprisingly, for the NYT.) The campaign fundraising hearings make it at the LAT, WP, and NYT. The Versace killer manhunt makes it at each of those papers and at USAT. And the LAT and WP each have front-page stories on whether or not House Republicans are trying to oust Newt Gingrich (the players aren’t saying).

The USAT cover story about the Versace case has the disturbing news that serial killers are hard to catch, mainly because they traipse through a lot of jurisdictions that can’t or don’t communicate with each other, and because they’re smart. Their downfall is often, says the piece, that they like to taunt their pursuers. Both the WP and NYT report that the suspect, Andrew Cunanan, may have met Versace previously, each crediting that tidbit to Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth. The Post has the detail that the police are studying the videotape from Versace’s security system, which does have coverage of the murder scene. The NYT’s slant is to go back to Cunanan’s old haunts in La Jolla and San Diego, describing a posh and partying upbringing there. The owner of a hangout that Cunanan frequented told the NYT that recently his customer showed a disturbing change: “The hair was pretty screwed up.”

The majors putting yesterday’s session at the fundraising hearings on the front all note that they featured two CIA guys testifying from behind a screen. They were talking about the regular CIA briefings John Huang received while he was at Commerce. These papers also report that a superior of Huang’s at Commerce, Jeffrey Garten, felt that Huang was “totally unqualified” to do anything besides administrative tasks. The NYT says Garten was surprised to learn that Huang had visited the Chinese embassy at least six times while at Commerce. At one point, the NYT story states that Huang didn’t apply for a top secret security clearance. But further on, it quotes one of the CIA witnesses as saying that Huang “had received a full security clearance.” Which is it, Times?

The coverage of Dow 8000 is perfectly ordinary–the usual quote-a-bear-quote-a-bull format. With one exception: The WSJ takes a closer look at the investment advisors who have spent most of the nineties telling their clients to sell. Like Robert Prechter of the “Elliott Wave Theorist” newsletter, who has been claiming for some time that the Dow is headed for 400, and who, the Journal reports, has lost 75 percent of his subscribers since 1988.