Today's Papers

Dissing and Dissonance

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with public and political reaction to The Speech, which is also the subject of the Wall Street Journal’s main “Politics and Policy” piece. The Washington Post goes with Kenneth Starr’s re-summoning tomorrow of Monica L. to his grand jury, a story that USA Today puts together with Hillary’s post-speech support of her husband for its lead. Three of the fronts feature pix of the First Family walking across the White House lawn to start what would have to count as the worst family vacation in history. Buddy is there too, on a longer leash than his master will be on for some time.

The LAT draws the blinds the morning after and sees some members of Congress–including Democrats normally Clinton allies–so “infuriated” that “it was clear the sordid spectacle would not be put to rest quickly.” Looming large in the paper’s survey are the reactions of California’s senators, both Democrats. Dianne Feinstein said Clinton’s remarks left her trust in his credibility “deeply shattered.” And Barbara Boxer is quoted saying that “he should have told us the truth seven months ago” and that the Lewinsky relationship was “wrong–clear, black-and-white, no-room-for-ambiguity wrong.” The paper points out that Boxer’s comments were surprisingly negative given that she is related to Clinton by marriage.

The Journal and NYT also note the Feinstein reaction, and go on to note that the ranks of distancing Democrats include such party bigfeet as Dick Gephardt, Thomas Daschle and Lee Hamilton. The unwavering support expressed by Al Gore is widely noted. USAT quotes Republican Sen. John Ashcroft calling for Clinton’s resignation. Although the NYT reports that Tom Delay urged Clinton to resign, the paper describes the general reaction among Republicans as “unusually tame.” The LAT says instant polls show that the majority of Americans were satisfied with the president’s statement and wanted the matter dropped. Similar observations are given prominent placement by the WP and WSJ. But the papers don’t seem to notice that this shows there is a serious divergence between what they and the American people think is news. For instance, the NYT front gives roughly equal play to two stories: 1) a discussion of whether or not the tie President Clinton wore on the day Monica Lewinsky first testified to the grand jury was a gift from her and hence worn as some sort of signal to her, and 2) the health risks of breast feeding in the undeveloped world, the location of most of last year’s 600,000 new cases of AIDS among babies.

The NYT off-lead reports that Pakistan has arrested two new suspects in the African embassy bombings. The men were seized in the Khyber Pass while trying to cross into Afghanistan. The previously arrested suspect in the case, says the paper, has said one of the men is a pivotal bomb plot participant. All three men are apparently devotees of Osama bin Laden, the multimillionaire supporter of terrorists believed to be living in Afghanistan, and the three left Kenya together on the same plane. The Times reports that the U.S. is urging Afghanistan to expel bin Laden. While the Times continues to emphasize that U.S. officials have apparently not heard with their own ears from the first suspect about bin Laden’s operations, the WP continues to pass along in increasing detail what he apparently told Pakistani authorities: that bin Laden runs and finances a terrorist network, which pulled off the embassy bombings. Today, the Post says the Pakistanis were told that the bin Laden force numbers 4,000 to 5,000 members and that it has taken part in prior armed actions, including attacks against U.S. forces in Somalia, resulting in the deaths of 18 American soldiers.

The USAT front and the insides of the other papers report that on Tuesday, the “Real IRA,” an IRA splinter group opposed to the Northern Ireland peace accord, issued a telephoned statement admitting that it set off the bomb in Omagh that killed 28 people, including a number of children. The group apologized for the deaths, saying that they occurred only because its evacuation warnings were not properly followed.

The NYT reports that although the Pope is healthy enough to keep a busy schedule, American TV networks and those of other countries are rushing to iron out the logistics of covering his funeral. CBS News, for instance, reportedly just paid $180,000 for the exclusive use of a terrace overlooking the Vatican for live “stand-ups” by Dan Rather and its other anchors. And while ABC is said to have just obtained exclusive funeral rights to the Hilton, CNN is rumored to be negotiating with the Church itself for sole access to a prime property. The Times quotes the headline of an Italian newspaper story about the scramble: “The Pope: Heaven Can Wait, the Networks Cannot.”