Today's Papers

Winnie the Poo

The New York Times’s national lead is an interview with President Clinton that focuses mainly on tax policy and campaign finance. (The NYT’s metro edition leads with a court’s decision to uphold Gov. Pataki’s right to remove a prosecutor who wouldn’t seek the death penalty.) USA Today leads with a Social Security internal audit revealing that too many workers at the agency have too much access to Americans’ personal records, opening the door to theft and misuse. The Washington Post goes with a sharp decline in the U.S. abortion rate. And the Los Angeles Times leads with the agreement by European health ministers to phase in a total ban on tobacco advertising and sports-event sponsorship.

In the NYT interview, President Clinton says that he’s weighing a tax cut but warned against spending a budget surplus that doesn’t exist yet. Clinton also says he would judge any proposed tax cut by whether it was fair to average taxpayers, good for the economy, and conducive to a simpler tax code.

The president also tells the Times that he is prepared to flout Senate Republicans by making a recess appointment of Bill Lann Lee to Justice’s top civil rights post. And he also addressed Janet Reno’s decision to curtail the investigation into his campaign fund-raising. “She did what she had to do based on her reading of the law. And everybody knows that she is an indpendent-minded person.” (Just not an independent counsel-minded person.)

Al Gore also sits down with a Times reporter today, but his interview is all access, no content. Gore refuses to concede any mistakes in either his campaign activities or in his defense of them. He says it’s unfair to dwell on the months of controversy. “A snapshot,” he bromides, “does not have as much accuracy as a moving picture.” (Hey, as Jay or Dave would surely say, with Gore, a moving picture is a snapshot.)

The Post abortion story (played inside by the NYT) reports that despite a rate drop of 20 percent since 1980, abortion remains a common American experience–about half of all American women eventually get one.

The NYT, WP, and LAT all give prominent front-page play to Winnie Mandela’s testimony yesterday in South Africa before Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Complete with big pictures: the WP and LAT run a shot of her embracing the mother of a boy she is widely believed to have had killed, while the NYT shows the former liberationist reformer decked out in all the major jewelry groups, including gold-inlaid designer glasses. The NYT headline is “Winnie Mandela Is Defiant, Calling Accusations ‘Lunacy’.” The WP reporting agrees, saying that Mandela spent the day denying even the most minor allegations against her and offered no reconciliation until Tutu begged her to do so. Finally then, Mandela said things went horribly wrong, but she gave utterly no explanation of that remark. The LAT apparently was at a different hearing. It emphasizes that last bit of vacuity above all else.

The Wall Street Journal reports that when President Clinton recently visited players before a Washington-Seattle NBA game, Supersonic Greg Anthony drew cheers from teammates by asking when the capital gains tax cut takes effect.

The WP reports that a coalition of consumer and health groups handed out sarcastic awards to nine U.S. companies yesterday for bad ads they’d made. Included was one to Anheuser-Busch whose “Buy the Beer, Get the Gear” campaign required drinking 27,000 bottles (or cans) of beer in six months to win a pool table.

And that makes them horses’ asses. The NYT reports that recently after a Newsday columnist criticized a multi-part series his paper did, the writers of the series sent him a pig’s head in a box.