Today's Papers

Indictment du Jour

The Mike Espy indictment leads at USA Today, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. At the Los Angeles Times, it’s a California Supreme Court decision holding that employees who are discriminated against on the basis of age have the same legal rights as victims of race and gender bias. (Given the nation’s rising median age and California’s trend-setting status, this means stand by for lots of ageism suits.)

The 39-count indictment handed down against Espy charged that the former Clinton Secretary of Agriculture solicited and received more than $35,000 in gifts, trips, game tickets and other gratuities from seven companies doing business with Agriculture. USAT points out that regardless of the outcome, this is political death for a man once thought to be destined to be Mississippi’s first black governor.

Everybody reports that the charges come after a three-year, $9 million investigation by a special prosecutor. But the WP makes the point that this prosecutor has also collected $4.5 million in criminal fines from other subjects of his investigation. The NYT story covers much the same ground as the others, but breaks out with its observation that the indictments mean that Espy is “the highest-ranking member of the Clinton administration to be charged with a crime.” Also, Espy can’t have enjoyed reading in the Times that Don Tyson, the former CEO of one of the companies Espy is accused of receiving an illegal gift from, Tyson Foods, “has been talking to investigators in exchange for immunity.and he may be called to testify at Espy’s trial.”

The LAT reports on its front page that federal authorities in New York have charged three people and the news bulletin service they work for, an outfit called Breaking News Network, with mail fraud, conspiracy and electronic privacy violations in connection with the interception of pagers’ display messages. Included among the victims of the news gatherers were police who, in recent years have taken to using the pagers to protect some of their more sensitive communications from media scanners.

What do Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein, investment banker Steven Rattner, publishing heir Dirk Ziff, Wall Street hedge fund manager Orrin Kramer, Boston developer Richard Friedman, Xerox chairman Paul Allaire, GE CEO Jack Welch, Universal Studios chairman Frank Biondi, Dreamworks partner David Geffen, and television exec Barry Diller have in common? According to the Wall Street Journal, they have all had play-time with President Clinton on Martha’s Vineyard since the start of his vacation there. CEOs, says the Journal, in contrast to the wonks and pols who were the original FOBS, are the new FOBs.

On the NYT op-ed page, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes argues that the solution to last week’s huge tainted meat scare and other similar problems with the food supply has been sitting on the shelf ready to go for 40 years. It is, he says, food irradiation. Rhodes says continuing to eschew the technique’s use because it involves radioactivity is the sort of fanatic thinking that plagued the introduction of vaccination, water chlorination, pasteurization and fluoridation.

The WP reports that White House aide Sidney Blumenthal and his wife filed suit yesterday against Matt Drudge and AOL, asking $10 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. Bringing AOL into it just adds more juice to the world’s first-ever Internet libel case.