Today's Papers

Incomplete Sentences

USA Today

and the New York Times lead with the passage of a major IRS overhaul. The Washington Post goes with Big Tobacco’s negotiations with numerous states in an attempt to settle their claims, which remain in the wake of Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive tobacco legislation. The LAT leads with the California Supreme Court’s ruling that women may not sue Dow Chemical Co. for any alleged harm caused by its breast implant subsidiary Dow Corning Corp. The paper points out this limits implant plaintiffs to a share of the pool of money in the Dow Corning settlement announced Wednesday. None of the other leads even makes the Los Angeles Times’s front–hey, it’s the Silicone Valley.

Both IRS leads supply the bill’s basic facts: it establishes an outside board designed to trim the agency’s powers and shifts the burden of proof in tax cases from the filer to the IRS. And both have the tacked-on provision shortening the holding period required for the optimal tax treatment of capital gains (although only USAT mentions that this will cost $13 billion over the next decade.) The NYT gets into details about the organizational overhaul that USAT does not. On the other hand, who do you think gave a clearer account of the president’s Gumbyesque history with the bill? The NYT says, “Although the administration had opposed the bill in its early stages last year, the measure built up unstoppable momentum after a series of hearings in the Senate Finance Committee laid out horror stories from taxpayers…” while USAT puts it thus: “Clinton, who initially resisted the overhaul, now says he looks forward to signing the bill.”

The tobacco/states talks broke up Wednesday, the WP reports, over the states’ demands for an up-front payment of about $20 billion, twice the amount the companies offered in last year’s negotiated settlement, left in limbo by the failure of the Congress to implement it. But, the paper points out, there is certainly pressure to continue talking: in the form of more bills in the making that could hit the cigarette companies with a large tax surcharge.

Yesterday Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson were respectively sentenced to 2 ® and 2 years in connection with the death of their newborn at a Delaware motel. Compare the two front-page headlines on the story: WP: “Pair Whose Baby Was Left in Trash Get Short Terms” and NYT: “Teen-Agers Get Terms in Prison in Baby’s Death.” Doesn’t the Post headline better communicate the gravity of the action and the incommensurability of the sentence?

The NYT runs an AP story inside reporting that a Miami executive was charged with soliciting $20,000 in foreign contributions to Democratic election campaigns. The story doesn’t mention what the Post tips in the headline of its version and plays high up in the body: that the man is a friend of Al Gore.

The Wall Street Journal “Washington Wire” reports that three separate suicides by Navy officers in and around Washington in recent months have the service rattled.

“Today’s Papers” wants to make a clean breast of the mistake it made yesterday, when it guessed that the WSJ had not made a fuss about the Dow Corning implant settlement because the news broke after the paper went to bed. Actually, the paper didn’t have to make a fuss–it had the story the day *before.*

At yesterday’s afternoon Page One meeting, the editorial top guns at the NYT were rightly wowed by the stellar photograph that graces the top front this morning. It’s a geometrically pleasing and emotionally charged picture of two sons at their firefighter father’s funeral. After all the expense and complications the Times has experienced putting color pictures on the front page, it might be a little difficult for the brass to admit that the picture has something else going for it: its main colors are blue and white, giving it the moody feel of…B&W.