Today's Papers

Starr Dreck

“This is going to be the biggest story in my lifetime,” is the way James Carville put it, and it leads everywhere, eclipsing such leaders-any-other-day as the Pope celebrating Mass in Cuba, a surprise guilty plea in the Unabomber case, and the decision by Microsoft to give in on the issue of Windows 95/Internet Explorer separation.

USA Today says that while papering Washington and elsewhere with subpoenas, Kenneth Starr was working to persuade Monica Lewinsky to testify against President Clinton. The paper says that the indefinite postponement of Lewinsky’s deposition–originally scheduled for today–in the Paula Jones case was sought by her attorney while he negotiates with Starr. By contrast, the Washington Post says there appears to be little movement towards a Starr/Lewinsky deal that would protect her from prosecution for perjury and obstruction of justice, adding that her lawyer says he hasn’t heard from Starr since Monday. “Obviously,” the Post quotes him, “if there’s jeopardy [to Lewinsky], I’d like a deal.”

The New York Times coverage emphasizes yesterday’s statement by Clinton friend and advisor Vernon Jordan that “absolutely and unequivocally” Lewinsky told Jordan that there was no affair. Jordan vigorously denied telling her to lie. Everybody also reports that Jordan admitted he’d arranged some job interviews for Lewinsky. Readers, especially those just out of college with hardly any prior work experience, are encouraged to contact Mr. Jordan’s Washington office for similar job placement assistance.

The WP still leads the way in monomaniacal Monica-mania. Besides the full front-page treatment, the Post strews inside such items as a report on Al Gore’s first statement about the scandal (he believes his boss), a check-in with Gennifer Flowers, and a primer for parents whose children now suddenly ask, “Mommy, Daddy, what is adultery?”

The Times says the White House appears to have settled on a “strategy of denial and delay,” which includes attempting to undermine Lewinsky’s credibility and raising questions about her motivation. The WP reports tension inside the White House between political advisors, who feel it’s imperative for Clinton to quickly and forcefully rebut allegations, and the lawyers, who warn that Clinton should keep his public comments terse and undetailed until they can assemble more facts. The Post describes meetings held yesterday between the two groups as marked by heated debate. The paper reports one explanation offered by the Clinton staff that shows the meeting rooms need better ventilation: Clinton’s comments during the 1992 campaign could be squared with his apparent admission during last Saturday’s deposition that he’d had an affair with Gennifer Flowers because “Clinton was only denying the precise descriptions of the affair that Flowers had publicly alleged–not that any sex between them had occurred.”

The NYT, in an editorial slugged “Tell the Full Story, Mr. President,” says that the statements offered thus far by Clinton and Jordan have compounded the case’s oddities, not dissipated them.

USAT reports that those Starr subpoenaed yesterday include not just Jordan but also the widow of former Arlington National Cemetery resident Larry Lawrence. The NYT says the point of that is to ask her if she had an affair with Clinton. Others the dailies list among the Starr-struck include Clinton’s personal secretary and a former Miss America. The NYT reports that FBI agents visited Linda Tripp’s literary agent Lucianne Goldberg in New York and USAT has the detail that in 1972 Goldberg was paid $1,000 a week by a high-level Nixon operative to spy on the McGovern campaign.

Amidst all this, Jack Lord and his hair died. The obits fail to clear up an abiding mystery: Why did Kam Fong play “Chin Ho”? Why couldn’t he just be “Kam Fong”?