Today's Papers

File before Reading

A surge of news variety today. The New York Times leads with the development that Maine, Massachusetts, New York and several other “downwind” states are pressuring the EPA to crack down on Midwest utilities to reduce current high levels of wind-borne smog. The top national story in the Los Angeles Times is that scientists have found the first clues to the precise way that the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease causes its devastating effects, which could quickly lead to successful treatments. The Washington Post’s top national story is the very delayed appearance of key fundraising files that the Senate investigating committee requested from the DNC more than three months ago. The Wall Street Journal leads its front-page “Washington Wire” column with a brief mention of the files. USA Today leads with the news that defending champion University of Florida tops the first preseason college football poll.

Bob Woodward has the byline on the Post file delay story. He writes that the files include paperwork on such controversial Democratic contributors as Roger Tamraz and Johnny Chung, and 12 fund-raising call sheets prepared for Hillary Rodham Clinton to use in phone calls requesting donations in the range of $50,000-$100,000 from the likes of Ralph Lauren and Steven Spielberg. Woodward reports that the papers were found in a drawer in the only file cabinet in the DNC’s finance director’s office, where, DNC officials said, they had been sitting for at least five months. Oddly, Woodward doesn’t mention the similarity between this episode and the sudden re-appearance in the White House living quarters of Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater billing records.

And speaking of Democrat delay, the WSJ reports that a “recorded phone message at Clinton-Gore headquarters begins, ‘The campaign is still open for business.’”

USAT and the WP both give front-page space to stories about yesterday’s 102-count Medicare fraud indictment handed down against a Miami home health care company. The Post quotes one law enforcement official as saying, “We have not found one patient who actually received home health care services from this organization.” The Post also runs a separate overview piece on Medicare fraud.

The NYT goes top of the page with its report that Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar has threatened to make trouble for North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms’ tobacco interests in upcoming Agriculture committee hearings if Helms doesn’t grant Mexico Ambassador-nominee William Weld a confirmation hearing. A Helms spokesperson, says the Times, responded this way: “Senator Helms would never suggest doing anything harmful to farmers in Indiana.”

The Post runs a piece inside about the newest humor trend in Russia–jokes about the country’s nouveau riche. “Look at this tie I bought in New York,” says one. “$1,500.” The other says, “What a fool! Here, you can get it for $2,000.” Another: One day the Devil meets a new Russian capitalist and offers him anything he wants. The man says he wants to pay no import tax, he wants oil fields, he wants tax breaks, etc. The Devil says his wish is granted provided the man turn over his soul. “So,” says the man, “what’s the catch?” I think I have heard these very jokes told about yuppies, lawyers, and Jews–which raises an interesting journalism question: How close can the butt of a joke genre get to a newspaper’s readership before the paper won’t actually repeat the jokes? And should that matter, or should the Post’s editors give rich Russians the came courtesy they give poor blacks? When Earl Butz was caught regaling someone with an anti-black joke, you may recall, the mainstream papers didn’t actually tell the joke.