Today's Papers

Hugh Profits?

As is not uncommon for a Monday, no two of the big papers have the same lead. The Los Angeles Times leads with the White House reaction to the weekend revelation that Kenneth Starr served as a source to reporters working the Monica Lewinsky story. USA Today leads with NATO’s preparations for warning flights today near Kosovo. The New York Times goes with today’s start of a U.N. conference considering the establishment of a permanent international court for prosecuting crimes against humanity. And the top national story at the Washington Post is the national trend of grieving parents of murdered children working to create laws designed to protect other children from the fates met by their own. The most famous examples–Megan’s Law (federal: requires notifying a neighborhood of the presence of a convicted sex offender), the Jimmy Ryce Act (Florida) and Stephanie’s Law (Kansas: both provide for the commitment to a mental hospital of dangerous repeat sex offenders after the expiration of their prison terms)– are but the tip of a legislative iceberg that, the Post reports, currently consists of at least 50 such laws added to the books in the past 18 months. The paper observes that the anxiety over child safety among current parents, the largest generation of American parents ever, has considerably broadened the constituency for victims’ rights.

The LAT lead reports that in response to Starr’s admission in a Content magazine interview that he spoke privately to reporters about potential witnesses in Clinton-related inquiries, the White House took to the Sunday airwaves to charge that such actions were illegal and that fair inquiry into Clinton will be completely in question until they are investigated. In short, we have hit the meta-motherlode: a claim that the independent counsel’s investigation needs…an independent counsel’s investigation. Lewis Carroll, call your office.

And things get curiouser and curiouser as the LAT tries to report on the possible wrongdoing here while at the same time exculpating its own prior interactions with Starr. The paper says that it (along with other papers) has openly reported that some of its information has “come from Starr’s office,” but Starr’s public admission “broke an unwritten taboo leaving him vulnerable to criticism.” Why Starr’s admission should do so when the corresponding one by the LAT does not, the LAT doesn’t say. It almost seems as if the paper’s position is it’s okay to talk to an “office,” but not to any actual person who works there. But then again, papers love to fuzz up the origins of their information if for no other reason than that it makes them look more original than they really are. This very LAT piece is a good example: although the whole story is generated by the Content article, the paper manages to stave off using the C-word until the last–the twenty-third–paragraph.

The LAT front points out a little-noticed feature of the version of the tobacco bill now working its way through the Senate. Although the bill had originally contained $11.5 billion for helping smokers quit, to keep others from starting, and to keep children from buying cigarettes, it now contains nothing for any of that.

The Times’ William Safire wonders in his column how many millions Hillary Clinton’s brother, lawyer Hugh Rodham, will be getting for his work on the tobacco settlement. Safire says he doesn’t know because Rodham hasn’t been returning his phone calls.

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to a benchmark annual customer survey, Apple Computer has fallen from its longtime position as the personal computer industry’s leader in customer loyalty. The company is now third in the allegiance sweepstakes, behind the new leader, Gateway, and Hewlett-Packard. The Journal says analysts attribute this to Apple’s failure to provide a price-competitive entry in the booming market of computers selling for under $1,000.

A WP op-ed by two former government nuclear power specialists details an important fact about India’s nuclear weapons program that has drawn little notice: the plutonium India dipped into for its recent bomb tests was provided nearly forty years ago as part of an “Atoms for Peace” reactor built by Canada and fueled by the U.S. In return, India had promised both countries in writing that the reactor would be reserved for “peaceful purposes.” The U.S. and Canada therefore now should, write the authors, as a condition of lifting U.S. economic sanctions, make India withhold that plutonium from its weapons program.

All of the big fives’s fronts feature the Bulls’ dramatic win for the title. Today’s Papers’ biggest worry about the possibility that Michael Jordan will now retire: he’ll get his own talk show.