Today's Papers

Yeltsin and Out

USA Today

leads with chat-show declarations by Madeleine Albright and William Cohen that the administration has opened a new war against terrorism. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times go with President Boris Yeltsin’s dismissal of his main government officers, including his prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, which is also the off-lead at the Washington Post and USAT. The WP leads with Newt Gingrich’s first extensive comments about Kenneth Starr’s investigation since The Speech, which include his declaration that impeachment would require not “a single human mistake” but “a pattern of felonies.” Gingrich also tells the Post that he thinks Starr’s report to Congress will probably be made available to the public, but that the supporting evidence will be kept secret.

USAT accompanies its lead with a front-section “cover story” about the newly announced U.S. war, which states that Osama bin Laden has already trained “tens of thousands of terrorists operating in more than a dozen countries.” Question: if this is so, then how is it that there was virtually no press mention of bin Laden until the African embassy bombings? The piece reports that last week’s strikes against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan were code-named Operation Infinite Reach (which could have also been the code-name for Clinton’s Monica speech). The LAT front runs a story filed from Pakistan that includes an interview with a man who claims to have lived through the Tomahawk attacks on Afghanistan. “All of us were innocent,” the man tells the paper, explaining that what the U.S. says is a terrorist training complex is in fact merely a religious education center.

The papers report that in the midst of his country’s economic crisis, Yeltsin replaced the reform-minded Kiriyenko with Viktor Chernomyrdin. The NYT says that it appears Yeltsin’s thinking is that Chernomyrdin’s good relations with financiers and with the Communists in Parliament may help deflate the widespread calls for his own departure. Everybody points out that what makes the move odd is that Chernomyrdin already had the job for five years until last March, when Yeltsin let him go, in part because in the NYT’s words, “a new young team was needed.” The LAT and USAT say another reason was that Yeltsin had begun to fear Chernomyrdin as a presidential competitor. The papers report that despite the upheaval, the Clinton White House says that President Clinton will still keep to a previously scheduled two-day summit with Yeltsin in Moscow early next month. Both the Times and the LAT point out that the shake-up announcement was made on Russian television after the sports news.

The WP runs an interview with the Pope. At one point, when it is mentioned that the major growth in the Catholic Church is now taking place outside Europe and the United States, the pontiff replies, “It was so at the beginning.”

Being a celebrity often means you get for free what ordinary people have to pay for, even though you can afford it and they can’t. So for instance, Tom Cruise makes a movie and besides paying him, the studio throws him a Benz. But it’s not just the studios that are complicit. For years, the main column on the front page of the LAT’s Sunday real estate section has been “Hot Property,” which chronicles the real estate doings of the glitterati. Now, if you wanted to advertise your house for sale in the LAT, you’d have to pay a hundred bucks or so for a tiny little buried ad, but if you’re say (as in last Sunday’s paper), Pam Grier, why then at absolutely no cost to you the paper leads the section with ten paragraphs about your house, including mention of the neighborhood, the asking price and the names of the realtors to contact.

It probably took a presidential sex confession and a transcontinental cruise missile strike to keep today’s Wall Street Journal’s front-page feature by Stephanie Mehta out of the paper last week. The story? Cell-phones are getting smaller and lighter.