Today's Papers

Serb and Destroy Mission

The biggest news today is a startling development: British commandos, with U.S. logistic support and full NATO and Hague backing, moved in on two Bosnian Serb officials accused of war crimes, killing one in a firefight and capturing the other. It was NATO’s first attempt to arrest suspected war criminals in the Balkans. The Washington Post and New York Times lead with the story. USA Today also puts it high on the right-side of its front, although its top story is the FBI’s decision to draw down the criminal investigation of the TWA 800 crash. The Los Angeles Times leads instead with yesterday’s revelation from the Senate’s campaign fund-raising hearings that two California entrepreneurs got $650,000 via separate wire transfers from banks in China and Japan within days of making major donations to the Democratic Party, and relegates the Bosnian operation to a little box below the fold. The NYT also gives prominent above-the-fold space to the hearings, but in the Post, they don’t even make the front page.

The LAT senses a Watergate-like trail of money here, quoting Charles Lewis of the Washington-based watchdog group, the Center for Public Integrity, saying, “Wire transfers of the kind described are Exhibit A of criminality.”

The LAT is also above the fold with the news that, despite initial reservations, President Clinton has decided to support a Senate proposal that would raise Medicare premiums for people making more than $50,000. The piece states this stance could set off a rift within Democratic ranks.

Back to the Bosnian operation: The NYT says that the captured man was taken at the hospital where he worked by British troops who entered “under cover.” But you have to read the LAT to find out that the Brits were “posing as Red Cross workers on a humanitarian aid mission.” Hey, wouldn’t we complain about that?

Some great details today in the Wall Street Journal’s front-page feature about the road to the tobacco settlement. For instance, the breakthrough notion of states suing cigarette manufacturers for the recovery of public funds spent on tobacco-related medical expenditures didn’t come from Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore, but from a law-school friend of his, a small-town lawyer named Michael T. Lewis, who cold-called him with the idea. And when Jeffrey T. Wigand, at the time the head of research at Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp., first began making insider revelations to the FDA, he was known at the agency only by a code name–“Research.”

Atop its piece today about the just-announced new TV ratings system, the LAT runs a graphic box featuring the new content guidelines that will be added to the age-based ones currently in use: V-Violence, S-Sexual Situations, L-Coarse Language, D-Suggestive Dialogue, and FV-Fantasy Violence. (How could they leave out Fantasy Sexual Situations?) And then illustrates the new ratings a few current shows might have. “NYPD Blue,” for instance, would have a rating with more syllables than its title: “TV-14-S,V, L.”