Today's Papers

Saddam Masochism

The Washington Post, USA Today, and New York Times all lead with the Iraq situation. The Los Angeles Times goes with the latest changes in the operations of the Colombian drug cartels, which nowadays do business with the Russian mafia, and avoid giving a big cut to Mexican distributors by relying more on “mules” coming directly to the U.S. and less on Mexican ships. This change is possible, says the LAT, because the Colombian trade has shifted towards heroin, which is nine times more valuable by weight than cocaine, and hence needn’t be shipped in the same quantities.

USAT reports that the White House is seeking to broaden support for military action against Iraq. The NYT emphasizes diplomacy too, stating that Iraq on Sunday sent signals it did not want a military confrontation with the U.S., and that the U.S. had persuaded Russia to have a go at pressing Hussein diplomatically to back down. The Times refers to an official Iraqi dispatch stating that Saddam is not seeking a confrontation with the U.S. The paper also quotes a senior American official saying, “When we feel we’ve exhausted all diplomatic options, you’ll know it.”

Many of the same diplomatic details are mentioned in the WP story, but it instead emphasizes the Clinton administration’s making the case for military action by graphically depicting the Iraqi threat, quoting senior officials talking about the amount of anthrax and nerve gas Hussein has. The USAT has some of this too, but puts it at the bottom and doesn’t headline it.

Both the NYT and the LAT have the same front-page picture of mega-hatted Madeleine Albright–who spent Sunday shuttling between Arab countries trying to drum up anti-Hussein support. Apparently, now whenever she’s in the Middle East, she carries a complete anti-chemical, anti-biological warfare system on top of her head.

The LAT, NYT, and USAT each carry front-page stories about just-released Chinese dissident Wei Jingshang, now hospitalized in Detroit. But the WP puts the story inside.

In the wake of a similar story last week in the LAT, the USAT news section cover story details how local California officials are scheming to legally sidestep Prop. 209. “We’re going to stretch the envelope as far as we can and chip away at 209,” is the word in the story from Nate Miley, city councilman and vice mayor of Oakland.

A Wall Street Journal editorial makes the point that the press consistently overlooks that some of the most thoughtful reassessments of affirmative action come from blacks. The Journal notes, for instance, that a data base search of newspaper coverage of the Bill Lann Lee nomination fight reveals that not one article interviewed or even quoted Ward Conerly.

Howard Kurtz, in his WP media column, reports that David Brock, the darling of the rabid right when he went after Anita Hill in his first book, but who then fell out of favor when he didn’t do a similar number on Hillary Clinton in his second one, has been fired from his staff writer job at the American Spectator.

The Sunday LAT had a piece that came as quite a shock to the huge numbers of those who bought cell phones for their cars primarily as an emergency communications device–in California at least, the phones aren’t very reliable at reaching anybody when you dial 911.

And a full-page ad in the Sunday NYT introduced a truly frightening phenomenon: The Ralph Lauren Barbie doll. “She’s the most sophisticated Barbie ever, a perfect model of Ralph Lauren style, with long brown hair, a crested navy blazer, navy knit turtleneck bodysuit, grey flannel pleat-front pants and lined camel-hair overcoat–plus the perfect accessories.” What’s next: Versace Ken?