Today's Papers

Would You Like Some More Coffees?

USA Today and the New York Times lead with the continuing furor over the White House coffee videos. The top story at the Washington Post is a major espionage arrest. And the national lead at the Los Angeles Times is the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

What’s driving the White House videos story forward is the news (first reported by the WP yesterday) that the White House is now admitting there are still more coffee tapes. USAT reports that campaign finance hearing chairman Sen. Fred Thompson calls this episode a deliberate effort to “delay and obstruct.” The paper quotes White House spokesman Lanny Davis as saying the omission was “an honest overlooking of materials.” And, says USAT, the White House couldn’t reach anyone at the Justice Department on Thursday to discuss the tape issue because it was a Jewish holiday. The NYT has this explanation as well. (Question: Is Janet Reno Orthodox or is she merely Reform and hence could have lifted the receiver if she’d been called at home?)

The NYT tapes story runs next to a picture from one of the videos showing President Clinton with a bunch of unidentified people, presumably fat cats. Question: If, as we’re told, these films were shot by the military office in charge of archiving such White House events, wouldn’t those names be recorded somewhere? And if so, isn’t not making them available along with the videotapes a clear case of stonewalling?

The Post spy story, which also is on the front at USAT, departs somewhat from the pattern of recent espionage cases. For one thing, the three accused of long-term spying for East Germany are said by the FBI to have acted out of ideological rather than material motives. For another, one of the ring members had once held a somewhat high-level Pentagon job (and even, says the WP, applied for a White House job.) The papers’ headlines reflect these two strands of the story. USAT: “Pentagon Attorney Among Those Arrested on Espionage Charges.” WP: “Onetime Campus Radicals Held in Spy Case.” Both will get plenty of attention in the days ahead.

The LAT continues to work a Clinton fund-raising scandal it broke and still has all to itself: the news that a 1991 10-day Asian trip taken by then-DNC chairman Ron Brown was designed to raise funds for the DNC from foreign lobbyists and investors. Today’s story focuses on a memo written to Brown by a party aide pitching the trip, which contains such tidbits as that “John Huang has offered to host an event in Hong King with a goal of $50,000,” and “if we take the trip as proposed, we will raise at least $100,000.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that attorneys general from three states-California, New York, and Connecticut have joined the antitrust probe into Microsoft already occupying Massachusetts and Texas. The paper reports that the focus of the investigation is whether Microsoft is trying to prevent personal computer manufacturers from shipping new machines loaded with the Windows operating system from also being factory loaded with any non-MS Internet browser. State law officials have become emboldened in the matter, the Journal says, by the recent 40-state tobacco settlement.

The NYT front reports that Benjamin Netanyahu has put up a defiant defense of the Israeli assassination attempt against a Hamas leader, saying, “I take the responsibility on myself.” There’s also a NYT editorial today calling for Israeli to foreswear assassination as a policy tool. But responsibility was the last thing Netanyahu was hoping to take, and his goal was far more than assassination. The Hamas leader was not shot (and the agents were close enough to have done that) nor taken to Israel to stand trial. Instead the plan was for the target to get sick and die when the Israelis were long gone. None of the papers seem to have noticed that what Netanyahu wanted was the result without the responsibility.

Some conditions improved immediately. According to the WSJ, Former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin, hired by Mitsubishi to improve plant conditions for women, says in a deposition that she is being paid $2.2 million for her work.