Today's Papers

White House of Blues

USA Today

, the Washington Post, and the New York Times all lead with the latest developments in the White House sex scandal. The Los Angeles Times goes another way, leading with the latest developments in the White House money scandal (remember?).

The Lewinsky matter moved Thursday on several fronts, which get covered to varying degrees. The USAT lead reports that while denying any obstruction of justice, Jordan said that he kept Bill Clinton informed about his efforts to land Monica Lewinsky a private-sector job. USAT also has the Post traumatic distress syndrome of Robert Bennett, one of Clinton’s private lawyers, as well as word that Ginsburg and Starr squared off before a federal judge, but in both regards it leaves important details out. You have to read the Post to learn that Bennett not only viewed the WP deposition leak as “reckless, reprehensible and unethical” but also that he said, “We are going to seek relief in court on this….” (Apparently, Bennett didn’t elaborate and the Post wasn’t about to–after all, it’s the WP’s source Bennett is talking about going after.) And to learn that the point of the closed hearing was so Ginsburg could try to convince a judge to make Starr abide by a preliminary agreement to extend immunity to Lewinsky in return for her testimony.

Both the WP and NYT describe the wild scene outside the courthouse, mobbed with press and topped off with anti-Clinton protestors chanting, “Five-six-seven-eight! Married men don’t date!”

The two papers also detail Clinton’s hot reaction to Thursday’s Post scoop: “the court has made it absolutely clear it is illegal to leak and discuss” his deposition. Both papers report that all players in the controversy–including Ken Starr and Paula Jones’ lawyers–deny leaking the depo. Also, the LAT front reports that Clinton “sternly refused” to explain Thursday why in his deposition, he said he warned Monica L. that she was likely to be called in the Jones case.

The NYT lead plays catch-up on the depo story by pointing out that the deposition’s heavier than anticipated focus on Lewinsky makes sense of the prior Times scoop about Betty Currie’s testimony that, the day after, Clinton went over with her the facts about his relationship with the intern. The piece emphasizes how in the Clinton deposition account Currie is the central figure, even to the point where it was her idea to get Monica a gift when he went to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation. The Times adds this tidbit: Clinton said in his depo that previous accusations about drug dealing and even murder had left him “paranoid.”

The LAT lead is the news that California campaign donor Johnny Chung, who once compared the White House to a subway, where you need coins to open the doors, will plead guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud and election law violations in an agreement with the DOJ under which he will cooperation with the Department’s fund-raising investigation. The paper also reports that another big Clinton donor suspected of funneling foreign money to the Democratic Party, Yogesh Gandhi, was arrested Thursday on unrelated fraud charges as he prepared to leave the country. The WP and NYT run the Chung story on their front pages.

The Wall Street Journal reports that military planners of possible airstrikes against Iraq have become less confident of the U.S. ability to bomb biological weapons sites in Iraq after a secret Air Force test in which a special bomb that was expected to incinerate a stockpile of anthrax-like germs instead spread them.

While all the dailies were going front-page earlier this week with the news that hands-on basketballer Latrell Sprewell was being given his millions back, there was virtually no newsplay of his most recent escapade. It seems that on Monday, Sprewell was involved in a car accident that sent two other people to the hospital. The California Highway Patrol says Sprewell’s Mercedes was traveling at “high speed” when it struck sand barrel obstacles, hit a wall and then collided with another car. Witnesses said they’d seen Sprewell speeding. Perhaps the Highway Patrol fears another arbitrator in the wings. It didn’t give Sprewell a ticket. All this information comes from the only press coverage “Today’s Papers” is aware of–a brief AP item on page 4 of Tuesday’s LAT sports section. You know, where everyone put the news that OJ had pleaded no contest to beating his wife.