Today's Papers

Arafat’s Chance

The post-bombing developments in the Middle East provide the day’s most important stories. “Netanyahu Puts Onus on Arafat” is the Washington Post’s lead, and both the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today have front-page stories covering the various diplomatic, military and financial pressures Israel is now bringing to bear on the Palestinian Authority. But after that, diversity breaks out: The NYT leads with the news that Clinton administration officials now doubt they will reach an agreement this year to admit China to the World Trade Organization because they have failed to convince President Jiang Zemin to meaningfully open his country’s markets to foreign competition. The LAT leads with the most ambitious plan yet to use court ordered injunctions against ordinarily legal behavior (such as using cell phones, and gathering in groups of three or more) to control L.A. gang activity. And USAT’s lead is that the National Institutes of Medicine is going to try to determine whether fallout from Cold War atomic tests may have caused some 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer.

The Post piece on Middle East repercussions depicts Netanyahu attributing the current situation to Arafat, quoting him saying that “Arafat must make a choice” about whether he wants his country to “behave like a terror-sponsoring entity.” The story adds that there is a good deal of support for this view in Washington: “…Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, President Clinton’s national security adviser, put the onus on the Palestinians. In comments to CBS, Berger said Arafat needed to do more to share intelligence with Israel about suspected terrorists.

The Wall Street Journal’s front-page “Outlook” column addresses the likelihood that the FCC will try to push free political ad time on the TV networks, and that the broadcasters will fight back hard. Already, notes the Journal, they’ve tried to remove Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a free-ad advocate, from an FCC advisory panel. “I can really understand why a poor, defenseless little organization like the National Association of Broadcasters would feel threatened by a big powerful academic like me,” says Ornstein.

The NYT takes a lot of top-front-page space to detail the plight of those taxpayers who will, under the new provisions about to be signed into law, pay more tax when they sell their homes. The article even takes several paragraphs to explain how to legally beat this new tax. Who are these, as the Times puts it, “losers”? Struggling single working mothers? Young, heavily mortgaged first-time homebuyers? No–they are the “extremely rich, who sell homes for millions of dollars” and their downmarket cousins, “those who have spent many years trading up from one home to another and now have homes worth more than $500,000.”

WP media reporter Howard Kurtz comments today on “the story that every New York reporter believes but few have dared to hint at in print,” namely that, “Donna Hanover, the city’s first lady, has not only abandoned the reelection campaign of her husband, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but also is said to be on the verge of leaving him–largely because of the mayor’s close relationship with his 32-year-old communications director.” Kurtz notes a non-prurient justification for doing the story: Hanover has a “four-person staff that costs the state’s taxpayers $165,000 a year, yet she has all but stopped being first lady or making appearances with her husband.”