Today's Papers

All Diana

Today, it’s pretty much all Diana, all the time. The Los Angeles Times leads with the news that Diana’s driver had “three times the lawful level of alcohol in his blood” as he raced through the streets of Paris “at 110 mph.” USA Today runs a four-column headline–“DIANA’S DRIVER LEGALLY DRUNK”–across its top front, and gives the whole rest of its 1A over to various Di-gressions: not just the drinking and the speeding, but also the funeral plans, a Prince William profile and a detail about the driver it credits to the Times of London, reporting that just before speeding away from the Ritz he taunted photographers by telling them “Catch me if you can.”

The Washington Post also has a lot on the drunk driving angle, but quotes Dodi Fayed’s father’s lawyer as insisting that the revelation “changes absolutely nothing” and that it was an “ambience of harassment” of Diana and Dodi Fayed by the photographers that was the key. But the Post, alone among the majors, also manages to find room for a story that might reasonably be thought equally important: that several hundred Bosnian Serbs attacked nearly 300 heavily armed U.S. troops yesterday.

There being no obvious business angle to the Diana story, the Wall Street Journal contents itself with a long-front page feature answering a question no one is asking: Could the accident give rise to any legal proceedings that would be “OJ II?” The answer, says the Journal, is no.

The New York Times tries to rise above the vulgus by giving its lead space to a piece about the coming session of Congress. Mistake! First of all, the Congress piece is virtually news-free: it’s conjecture, after all, about what may happen there between now and January, and secondly, some of the material in the three Diana-related front-page articles is really good. There’s the director of a photo agency saying, “Holding the photographers responsible when the cause was clearly excessive speed is absurd.” (Do you think there’s a chance that now instead of, or in addition to, inspiring a campaign against tabloids, this tragedy might spur a renewed campaign against drunk driving?) There’s a French photojournalist saying, “Those who denounce the paparazzi today will be the first to buy the photos of the young princes crying at Lady Di’s funeral.” And the revelation that although at least one photo agency is said to be offering U.S. rights to color photos of the crashed Mercedes, showing Diana covered in blood, the National Enquirer turned down the deal and urged other publications to do the same. (Of course, those pictures will surface, and don’t be surprised if they also eventually make their way into a “mainstream” paper, probably over a caption like, “Media experts debate: Was the Star wrong to publish these pictures?”)

If that’s not enough, the NYT also has three Diana op-ed pieces.

The WP reports that local AIDS prevention programs reflect different standards of expected conduct. In suburban Virginia, for instance, the advice tends towards abstinence. But in Washington, D.C., a pamphlet about the dangers of oral sex with a man advises women to look into condoms and dental dams.