Today's Papers

Elvis Leaves the Building

Finally, after a solid week, some of the big dailies lead with monographs that aren’t Monicagraphs. The Washington Post leads with the indictment of Clinton intimate Charlie Trie and another Democratic Party fund-raiser–the first in connection with the Department of Justice’s investigation into the 1996 campaign. (This story is the off-lead at the Los Angeles Times, but the New York Times runs it deep inside.) And the LAT goes with Madeleine Albright’s pronouncement that if allies can’t be convinced, the U.S. is ready to launch military strikes against Iraq on its own. Albright added that the diplomatic string is running out and reiterated the U. S. position: U.N. weapons inspectors must have unconditional access to Iraqi sites. (Elsewhere, this story doesn’t get that much play either: at the NYT it only gets a reefer on the front page, below the fold.) USA Today leads with a new poll indicating the strength of President Clinton’s post-scandal popular support, and the NYT goes with new details about the last White House meeting between Bill and Monica.

USAT says its new poll (of 684 adults, done in concert with CNN and Gallup) shows that after his State of the Union speech, Clinton enjoys his highest approval rating ever–67 percent. The paper also reports that former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta was questioned yesterday by prosecutors. (This news is also flagged in the Wall Street Journal front-page news box and on the NYT front.) USAT also states that Starr investigators picked up evidence from a former teacher of Monica Lewinsky’s, who says he had an affair with her.

The paper also offers a glimpse into Monica’s vie en scandale: long days sequestered in the Watergate with her mother, watching TV and talking on the phone in code. Her lawyer is quoted saying that she watched Clinton’s SOTU address. “She thought he did a good job with it,” he says. “She thinks he’s done a good job as president. She still considers him a friend.”

Pursuing a thread first pulled by yesterday’s LAT, the NYT and WP delve into that December 28th White House meeting between the president and his ex-intern, prompted by her concerns over a subpoena in the Paula Jones case. The Times reports Lewinsky claims that Clinton told her at the time that she could testify her visits to him at the White House were to see his secretary, and that he suggested that she could avoid testifying altogether by being in New York City. The paper goes on to point out that besides the issue of what Clinton actually said at this meeting, it would be “ethically questionable” for a defendant in a civil lawsuit merely to discuss the case with a potential witness already subpoenaed by the plaintiffs.

The Times says this meeting was confirmed by a White House aide, while the Post says the White House declined to comment about it and has refused to release the relevant entry logs.

The LAT front and the NYT inside report an increase in the number of applications to the University of California from blacks (up 4.9 percent) and Latinos (up 7 percent). This confounds much-publicized concerns that the school’s decision to end affirmative action last year would have a chilling effect on minority applications.

Dick Morris’ verbal incontinence yesterday about Bill and Hillary’s sex lives seems to have had immediate results. White House spokesman Mike McCurry tells the Post that, although in recent weeks Clinton would occasionally talk to Morris, “I doubt that will ever happen again.”

A big color shot of the president greeting an exuberant crowd of young people sits athwart the NYT lead story about the Monica meeting and astride its story about his trip yesterday to the Midwest. From just one glance, it’s hard to say which story the picture goes with. In a way, it goes with both. It was in fact taken yesterday at Clinton’s appearance at the University of Illinois. But it captures the very same hands-on political body chemistry apparent in those shots we’ve all seen by now of Bill with Monica. Indeed, of the eleven people in the photograph looking up at and/or reaching for Clinton, eight of them are women. They are all smiling at him.