Today's Papers

Courting and Mating

The surprise congressional resurgence of campaign reform leads at the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. USA Today leads with the FDA’s warning about creatine, a muscle-building supplement widely used by athletes.

The dailies explain that House GOP leaders agreed to allow campaign finance legislation to come to floor votes next month because reform advocates were close to getting enough signatures on a special petition to force a vote anyway. President Clinton is quoted saying the development was “great news,” but House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is quoted saying, “This was a retreat not a conversion. The Republican leadership still opposes reform that reduces the role of money in politics.” And indeed the coverage points out that the Senate has already defeated a ban on “soft money” once this session.

Both the NYT and USAT fronts cover yesterday’s oral arguments in the fourth and final sexual harassment case the Supreme Court is hearing this term. The issue in this one is whether a supervisor’s single threat saying a female subordinate’s sexual compliance will ease her working conditions constitutes harassment when her non-compliance meets with no adverse consequences. The issue is an ingredient in the Paula Jones case and hence the Court’s decision here might affect her appeal. Both papers note that many of the justices seemed genuinely perplexed during yesterday’s arguments.

Meanwhile, the WP front observes firm differences about gender on display in the Court’s 6-3 decision to uphold the law that automatically grants U.S. citizenship to an out-of-wedlock child if the mother is an American, but not if only the father is. Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, presumed that there is a closer connection between a mother and her child than between a father and his. But Justice Ruth Ginsburg dissented, taking a pure approach to sexual equality. The Post’s Joan Biskupic, notes that generational differences seem to be at play in this decision, with the older justices siding with the maternalistic bias.

No wonder the Administration’s announcement the other day that needle exchange programs do work but won’t be getting federal funds seemed so lame: according to a front-page story at the WP, until a half-hour before the press conference, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala was all set to announce federal funding. That was when White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles told her that President Clinton had decided the exchange position was too politically risky.

The WP runs an AP report stating that the first national survey of physician-assisted suicide found that 6 percent of the front-line doctors responding have hastened patients’ deaths with lethal injections or prescriptions. The Post story goes on to say that one-third of the surveyed doctors would write prescriptions for deadly dosages. USAT says that 11 percent of doctors would do so. The NYT, in the headline over its survey story, says the finding is that physician-assisted suicide is “rare.” Meanwhile, the LAT reports on its front that Linda McCartney did not die in Santa Barbara as the family first reported. The family admits now that this was a diversion which, says the paper, has in turn spurred some talk that perhaps her death was an assisted suicide.

The WP front reports that NATO planning last summer to capture Bosnian Serb leader and wanted war criminal Radovan Karadzic was compromised when a French military officer met secretly with Karadzic. The NYT runs the story inside, crediting the Post.

According to the WSJ, the IRS estimates that in 1996 taxpayers who itemized gave $84.3 billion to charity, up 12.4% from 1995. Concomitantly, many charities are having banner years. For instance, the Journal notes Baylor Healthcare System Foundation has raised $23 million through March, surpassing the $17 million it raised in all of last year.

The NYT front reports on a new web page for kids set up by the CIA ( The site is laced with trivia quizzes on world geography and history. And it explains the agency’s purpose: “Intelligence is information needed by our nation’s leaders, also known as policy makers, to keep our country safe. Policy makers, like the president, do not have time to read all the other countries’ newspapers. There are just too many of them.” “Today’s Papers” has never felt more patriotic.