Today's Papers

Butting Out

The New York Times leads with the national tobacco accord’s plummeting prospects. The Mother Teresa funeral is the top non-local story at the Washington Post (taking a back seat to the opening of the new Redskins’ stadium) as it is at the Los Angeles Times (behind a California tax cut and a story about the L.A. mayor).

The Times declares the dramatic $368.5 billion tobacco deal, which promised to revolutionize the marketing and regulation of cigarettes when it was proposed three months ago, “all but dead.” Congress has been less than enthusiastic because many members view the prepackaged deal as trespassing on their turf of working out bills. Other big factors: the tobacco lobby’s impolitic attempt to slip a $50 billion rebate into the budget bill, and the widespread belief that if the companies are willing to pay $368 billion, they must be able to afford more. The paper reports that although the White House helped shaped the deal, it has steadily backed away from it–so much so that President Clinton is being urged by advisors to offer only a general outline of a national tobacco policy rather than a detailed piece of legislation.

One can’t help but think that the NYT’s editors have spent a little too much time on Princess Diana and Mother Teresa coverage this past week. Their headline for the tobacco deal story? “Tobacco Accord, Once Applauded, Is All But Buried.”

Because of its time-zone advantage, the LAT was able to put its initial coverage of the Mother Teresa funeral in its Saturday edition. But the WP and NYT couldn’t cover it until today. The NYT account emphasizes something that the others missed, namely that the crowds in attendance were far smaller than expected. The main reason, says the paper, is that “the poor, the handicapped and the troubled–the people Mother Teresa spent her life helping–were barred from taking part, at the insistence of the Indian military, largely for security reasons.”

The WP runs a front-page story about a graduate entrance exam cheating scheme recently broken up by federal investigators. It had been operating from coast to coast for three years and before it was discovered had enabled several hundred students to gain acceptance into graduate schools with fraudulent GRE, GMAT and ESL scores that some had paid up to $9,000 for. The scheme involved paid expert test-takers on the east coast, lots of cell calls, and the distribution of pencils with answer keys on them to the cheating test-takers on the west coast.

The LAT has a front-page piece about one somewhat surprising consequence of the Army sex scandals: the service is planning to put into effect very soon new physical training standards for women that are much closer to male norms.

The NYT reveals on its front page that it has gotten ahold of the deposition recently given to Republican Thompson committee lawyers by Harold Ickes. The depo makes it clear that Ickes isn’t exactly spilling his guts on the White House fund-raising operation. In response to the usual request to describe his background for the record, Ickes replied, “I was born. I grew up. I went to school.”

The Times also covers the fundraising scandal in its lead editorial, which says that in light of all the recent revelations, Janet Reno’s continued failure to call for an special counsel “looks like a political blocking operation to protect President Clinton and Mr. Gore.” The editorial goes on to call for a special counsel and says it would be a political subterfuge to limit him/her to Mr. Gore. “His boss has earned one, too.”

The NYT “Corrections” page carries this item: “A report last Sunday about the wedding of Lily Changchien and John Richard Middleton Jr. misstated the honors with which they graduated from Harvard University. They both graduated magna cum laude, not cum laude.” At press time, corrected GPAs were not available.