Today's Papers

Putting Out the Best China

The Washington Post lead is a rare interview with China’s President Jiang Zemin. The Los Angeles Times leads with news that the federal investigation into a suspected Chinese scheme to buy influence in American politics has bogged down because the money trail has gone cold. And the New York Times lead is that after four years of relative price stability brought about by the spread of managed care, the cost of health insurance is about to go up significantly.

Jiang tells the WP that he urges Americans to tolerate China’s political system and to seek “common ground despite differences,” and that his country and the United States “share the responsibility for preserving world peace and stability.” According to the story, during Jiang’s visit, China will pledge to end sales of cruise missiles to Iran and will receive, in return for its promise to stop all support for nuclear programs in Iran and Pakistan, permission to purchase nuclear-power equipment from American firms.

The conversation with Jiang was highly structured. The Post submitted questions in advance and when the reporters posed them face-to-face, Jiang read written replies to them. (There was also eventually some informal discussion as well.)

When Jiang says in the interview that the theory of relativity can be applied to politics in that democracy and human rights are relative concepts, the Post is apparently worried that you might not get his reference to the theory’s creator without the provision of his first name, which it adds to Jiang’s remark: “.worked out by Mr. [Albert] Einstein.”

The WP front page reports that the agreement to loosen up Japanese port procedures for U.S. vessels worked out on Friday with Japanese shipping companies under the threat of banning them from U.S. ports is widely believed by American trade officials and experts to demonstrate that every so often, to achieve trade fairness, Tokyo must be “hit with the economic equivalent of a two-by-four.”

How to explain that yesterday’s gathering at Arlington National Cemetery of thousands of female military veterans for the dedication of a new memorial honoring them was, among the majors, deemed front-page news only at the LAT?

The NYT uses the latest round of presidential videotapes to serve up a one-two anti-Clinton punch. The paper’s lead editorial says that a December 7, 1995 tape on which President Clinton tells contributors that the DNC’s issue ads were being used to drive up his poll numbers and that the DNC was being used to avoid the $1,000 limit on individual contributions to candidate ads “is smoking with evidence.” And William Safire calls a May 21, 1996 tape covering much of the same ground “a smoking gun.” Safire castigates the Department of Justice for being obtuse in the face of this evidence and urges the Senate to step up its investigative efforts to fill the void because “a widespread, criminal conspiracy to violate Federal election laws stares the nation in the face.”

Both the WP and NYT run stories inside reporting on a piece coming out next week in the Chronicle of Higher Education concerning college president salaries. It turns out that recently retired Northeastern University prez John Curry made out the best with a total compensation package of just under $1 million. Almost all the other top ten college bosses made over $400,000. The Chronicle reports that the average total pay for presidents of research universities is $333,239. Neither paper points out that these salaries are effectively even higher because most college presidents have housing provided to them.