The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today all lead with President Clinton’s agreement to testify for Kenneth Starr’s grand jury. The Wall Street Journal puts the story at the top of its World-Wide News box. Clinton will give testimony (scheduled for August 17th) from the White House with his lawyer present during Starr’s questioning. The interview will be videotaped and subsequently presented as evidence in Starr’s grand jury hearing. Clinton agreed to testify only after Starr withdrew his subpoena, thus making the testimony “voluntary.” Starr agreed to Clinton’s demands (videotape, lawyer present) in an effort to avoid any further delays as Clinton sought to block the subpoena in court.
An intriguing detail is caught by the WP and NYT, but missed by all other early editions. Monica Lewinsky will offer not just testimony, but physical evidence: 1) answering machine messages with Clinton’s voice on them and 2) the infamous, allegedly semen-stained, sex dress. The NYT refrains from characterizing the dress, while the WP valiantly euphemizes, referring to possible matter on the dress as “DNA material,” “biological material,” and “scientific evidence.” The WP notes that DNA tests linking the dress to Clinton would move the case beyond a “simple, he-said-she-said disagreement.” The Post adds that the phone messages contain nothing suggestive, but do “indicate an unusual relationship between a president and a low-level correspondence clerk.”
One of the WP’s three front-page scandal stories spins out possible Clinton tactics. Most lawyers say it makes no legal sense for Clinton to agree to testify, and thus he must be facing political pressure (a theory first put forth by Monday’s NYT) The President can now: 1) Stick with his story and contradict Lewinsky, gambling that he’ll win a he-said-she-said battle, or 2) Give a preemptive public speech before his testimony, admitting that he lied to “protect his family.”
In other scandal news, Linda Tripp gave a short statement following the last of her grand jury appearances. Tripp told the American people, “I’m you. I’m just like you.” Tripp added that she had been “vilified for taking the path of truth,” and complained that “many in the entertainment industry have chosen to ridicule me” (presumably referring in part to a Saturday Night Live sketch in which she was portrayed by obese actor John Goodman). The WP runs the full text of Tripp’s speech on page A10.
USAT and the NYT run front-page stories on another speech: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ remarks before the National Bar Association, an organization of black lawyers. Thomas lashed out at African-Americans who criticize his views (especially his opposition to affirmative action). Defending himself against charges of betraying his race, Thomas said, “I refuse to have my ideas assigned to me because I am black.” The papers disagree on crowd reaction: USAT says Thomas “was given two standing ovations,” while the NYT claims that “about half the audience applauded, some standing, while the other half remained silent.” The WP runs the story on page A03.
Everyone gives front-page notice to the death of famed ballet and Broadway choreographer Jerome Robbins. Robbins, 79, was the artistic direction behind such musicals as “On the Town,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Peter Pan,” and–TP’s favorite–“West Side Story.” TP feels pretty, oh so pretty, and TP pities any cyberjournalist who isn’t TP today.