Today's Papers

Turn of the Screw

Banner headlines at all papers announce that Monica Lewinsky has been given immunity, meaning that she may testify before a grand jury as early as next week. Her transactional immunity agreement guarantees that she can’t be prosecuted for past perjury or witness tampering. (She can be prosecuted if she lies to a grand jury–including Starr’s–in the future.) All papers agree that Lewinsky will admit to sex with the president. But the various papers’ unnamed sources disagree on whether Lewinsky says Clinton asked her to lie–a question that is “the marrow of Starr’s inquiry,” according to the New York Times.

The NYT headline reports Lewinsky “agrees to tell of pact with Clinton to lie.” The Washington Post disagrees: Lewinsky says Clinton did not ask her to lie, though the two discussed how to avoid cooperating with Paula Jones’s lawyers. USA Today carries a third version, saying that Lewinsky discussed her testimony only with “Clinton associates.” And the Los Angeles Times carries yet a fourth: Lewinsky doesn’t claim to have discussed testimony with Clinton and says Clinton never asked her to lie. Both the NYT and the WP report that Lewinsky claims no one from the White House helped her write the infamous “Talking Points” memo.

A NYT editorial says Clinton is “in the pincers of an excruciating legal squeeze”, urges him to come clean with the American people, and predicts that Congress won’t impeach him even if he admits to having sex with Lewinsky and lying afterwards. The corresponding WP editorial applauds the fact that the nation will hear what Lewinsky has to say, and asks the White House to refrain from savaging her. Another NYT story reports that one of Lewinsky’s friends says Monica has shown “a shocking amount of grace and dignity,” over the last six months. If Today’s Papers ever musters any grace and dignity, he certainly hopes his friends won’t find it “shocking.”

All of the major newspapers run page one stories on a tentative accord between the United Auto Workers and General Motors. Factories may rev up conveyer belts as early as tomorrow afternoon. GM agreed to increase investment in U.S. plants and, in return, UAW members agreed to end their strike–but the tentative agreement only addresses some of the labor-management disputes, others will crop up again. Industry analysts think GM is the loser. Astonishing statistic from the WP: GM is so enormous that production losses from the 54-day strike will reduce the United States’s 1998 GDP by 0.5%. The NYT reports that GM plans to run its factories around the clock, thereby compensating for lost production, perhaps even recouping half its lost profits. Did the WP think of that when it made its calculation?

The obit pages report that William McChesney Martin, Jr., former chair of the Federal Reserve, died on Tuesday. Martin earned himself a place in every macroeconomics textbook by quipping that the Fed’s mission is “to take away the punch bowl just when the party gets going.”