Today's Papers

Whitewater Torture

The Whitewater indictment of Susan McDougal leads at USA Today and the Washington Post. The Unabomber life-plus sentence imposed on Theodore Kacszynski leads at the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. While McDougal is still front-page where it doesn’t lead, the Unabomber doesn’t make the front at the WP.

McDougal was indicted for criminal contempt and obstruction by the Arkansas Whitewater grand jury for refusing to answer questions posed by Ken Starr. Having already completed an 18-month civil contempt sentence for refusing to answer Starr’s questions and now serving time for her Whitewater fraud conviction, she could get ten years if convicted on these new charges. The LAT says the move is an escalation of Starr’s investigation. USAT says it’s his final effort to force McDougal to cooperate.

The indictment contains some new information. At one point in the grand jury room, McDougal said, “Mr. Starr should resign. That’s my only answer to you.” And the evidence she was questioned about there but did not explain includes a $5,081.82 check she made out in 1983 bearing the notation, “Payoff Clinton.” (The NYT carries substantial excerpts from one of McDougal’s grand jury appearances.)

The Post quotes some legal experts saying it’s highly unusual to prosecute someone for criminal contempt who has already served a civil sentence for the same refusal to testify. (Small but important point: the USAT story never mentions that McDougal was granted immunity. But this is precisely what makes her silence indictable. The WP and the NYT get this right.)

The Unabomber sentencing proceedings included a statement from him as well as remarks by victims and survivors of victims. The LAT says Kacszynski was “unrepentant” and “steely-eyed,” and the victims “anguished.” A widow’s suggestion to the court makes everybody’s story: “Lock him so far down that when he dies, he’ll be closer to hell.”

If you’re wondering what sort of service to look out for when NationsBank completes its recently announced $60 billion merger with BankAmerica to become the nation’s largest bank, take a gander at the WP front, which reports that NationsBank, without admitting guilt (or denying any wrongdoing), agreed to pay $6.75 million in fines to settle charges it sold high-risk investment funds as safe banking products, mostly to elderly customers who suffered significant losses. Three senior executives at the bank also received fines from $35,000 to $100,000. The story doesn’t say, but “Today’s Papers” guesses these fines don’t represent as much of a dent to the bankers as the uninsured losses did to the elderly investors. After all, they only amount to one-ten-thousandth of the value of the merged company.

The WP front reports that on the strength of news stories about tiny biotech firm EntreMed’s promising cancer drugs, the company’s stock price quadrupled yesterday. In an inside piece, the NYT details this development and a concomitant rise in the hope market as well.

The Wall Street Journal reports that about only about 5% of the five million workplace drug tests administered last year by one major lab came out positive. That’s down from 5.8 % the year before and from 18.1 % in 1987.

The NYT reports that a black U.S. Marine was severely beaten in broad daylight in a busy Moscow park by a band of Russian skinheads. Skinhead assaults have become such a problem, reports the Times, that the American Embassy has twice alerted U.S. citizens, particularly those of African or Asian origin about the danger of unprovoked attacks. Other embassies have done the same. Foreign student groups complain that Russian cops routinely fail to protect them. The story is carried inside, as it was in the LAT on Monday, and the question is, why? If a white Russian embassy guard was viciously assaulted by black thugs in Washington, “Today’s Papers” thinks it would be a page one story everywhere, in this country and beyond.