Today's Papers

A Second Act of Contrition?

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post lead with assessments of Thursday’s cruise missile attacks. Each paper reports that the Clinton administration claimed moderate success and warned of possible strikes against terrorists in the near future. The papers all report that bin Laden survived the attack and that at least 20 (NYT) or 21 (WP, LAT) people were killed by missiles fired into Afghanistan. The WP pinpoints the number of Tomahawks launched at 79, the LAT and NYT say 75. Splitting hairs? Not according to the WP’s lead which gives a cost estimate of $1 million per missile.

The NYT and LAT report that President Clinton added bin Laden to the Treasury Department’s list of official terrorists. This allows the feds to seize any U.S. assets he may possess and hopefully weakens his attempts at financing terrorist activities. Both papers question why bin Laden had not been placed on the list earlier.

A WP above-the-fold news analysis says that the U.S. attack has shifted the fight against terrorism from a legal to a military one–national security has superceded due process. The results of this change will be psychological: bold, unilateral action bolsters moral at home, inspires confidence in allies, and intimidates enemies.

From the “If at first you don’t succeed” department: Clinton is considering another public address concerning his relationship with “that woman.” The LAT reports that White House insiders want the President to publicly discuss the issue, this time clearly expressing “contrition” for his inappropriate activities with then-intern Lewinsky. The particular medium for such remarks has not been agreed upon.

Clinton’s grand jury testimony leaks its way into the WP off-lead. According to sources, the President testified that he gave Lewinsky several gifts on Dec.28–after she had been subpoenaed in the Paula Jones case. Clinton lawyers claim this shows he did not instruct Lewinsky to return gifts to his secretary in defiance of a court order. The article also reveals that Clinton’s legal fund has raised $2.2 million in the last six months. Maybe he should thank the Academy: Oscar winners Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Michael Douglas, and Babs Streisand provided maximum donations of $10,000 each.

A NYT/CBS poll shows approval at around 70% for the job Clinton is doing and slightly below 50% for the man himself. 50% of the public now views Hillary favorably, a percentage that matches her highest-ever rating. Other issues polled include: two out of three believe that Starr’s investigation should quickly end, and only 5% admit to viewing Monica Lewinsky favorably. Today’s Papers applauds the NYT for attending to a commonly overlooked, yet always-important detail: forthright disclosure of the poll’s plus or minus margin of error.