Today's Papers

Da Bear

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today all lead with a 299-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average. The cyclopean Washington Post leads with scandal news again–this time continuing battles over attorney-client privilege.

The Dow’s plunge was its third-largest one-day point loss ever, according to USAT. The 3.4 percent drop means the Dow stands 9.1 percent below its July 17 peak. (A 10 percent drop is termed a “correction,” while a 20 percent drop means a bear market.) Factors in the nosedive: Asia’s financial crisis, a too-strong American dollar, and President Clinton’s political worries. (Now that Monica has destroyed the White House and the economy, isn’t there something she could do about Hollywood?) The papers all note that a sluggish market is nothing new for small stocks, which are down 8 percent for the year–it’s the high-profile blue chips that are only now feeling the pain. Hardest hit: the tech-focused Nasdaq market, down more than 36 percent from its 52-week high. Influential (and widely quoted) analyst and former bull Ralph Acampora now predicts we are headed for a bear market. The WSJ says the economy remains strong, with inflation, interest rates, and unemployment still low.

The WP lead says White House lawyer Lanny Breuer refused to answer several questions before the Lewinsky grand jury yesterday, citing attorney-client privilege. It’s not clear if this refusal will lead to another round of legal battles, as the White House’s attempts to block Breuer’s testimony were previously denied. Breuer did answer some questions yesterday and will give more testimony today. The NYT’s article adds a new wrinkle: Lewinsky will hand over, in addition to phone messages and the sex dress, a “photograph of Clinton that he had inscribed to her.”

The Post runs a Michael Kelly editorial claiming that Clinton can’t possibly confess to a lie now. Why not? 1) It means admitting that the entire mess could have been avoided had Clinton fessed up in the first place. 2) Confessing only after you have no other option looks really bad. 3) It would confirm Clinton’s rep as a liar, and his “every utterance on every subject, past and future, would be suspect.” 4) The public won’t be as forgiving as we imagine.

A USAT front-page piece says Justice Clarence Thomas is “frustrated” at the lack of minority law clerks hired by the Supreme Court. The National Bar Association tried to discuss the minority clerk dearth with Chief Justice William Rehnquist in June, but Rehnquist said he doubted that a discussion “would serve any useful purpose.” USAT offers these helpful facts: Among his 29 hires, Justice Thomas has one black clerk and three Asian clerks. “Rehnquist, who has been on the court since 1972, has hired 79 clerks. None was black; one was Hispanic.”

A front-page Post story explains why the Modern Library’s 100 books list seems so screwy: The judges never ranked the books. They were given a list of 440 titles, and put checks next to books they deemed worthy. Several judges checked fewer than 100 books. Books with checks from the greatest percentage of judges were given the highest rankings. Judge Gore Vidal found that 21 of his own books were on the master list-“more than William Faulkner, Henry James and Joseph Conrad put together.”