Today's Papers

Closed Doors (They’re Made of Glass)

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times lead with the news that, on Monday, Congress will release President Clinton’s videotaped grand jury testimony and 2,800 pages of material gathered by Starr. The decision was made during a two-day “closed-door” session of the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Henry Hyde (the top Republican) and Rep. Barney Frank (the top Democrat) announced the decision at a press conference, after which the two traded partisan jabs. Frank accused Hyde of “unilateral bipartisanship”. Hyde said Frank defines bipartisanship as Republicans caving in to Democrats.

The session wasn’t “closed-door” in any real sense, of course, since all three papers describe each and every point the committee discussed. Every article mentions the remarkable partisanship displayed behind those doors. Every article also interprets the furious GOP-Democratic sparring as a depressing harbinger.

The committee’s big dispute–other than whether to release–was over what to delete from the released materials. The NYT says the proposed deletions were of “sexually explicit material”. The WP adds that some were about a cigar, while the LAT mentions the cigar and “detailed descriptions by Lewinsky of her orgasms”. (In case you’re interested: Republicans kept the cigar references, while Democrats managed to expurgate Lewinsky’s orgasm musings.) None of the papers catches the irony of Republicans introducing sexual explicitness into the public sphere whilst Democrats fight to keep it out.

The lead international story at the NYT and LAT is that Japanese political parties have agreed upon a financial recovery plan. Neither paper has much more to say, since details of the deal are not yet available. The WP’s internatioal lead says Bosnian elections didn’t go the way Western officials had hoped. Instead, the surprise winner is an “ultranationalist” named Poplasen.

All three papers report that the Senate failed, by three votes, to override the president’s veto of a ban on partial birth abortions. Got that? It means partial birth abortions remain legal. The veto has already been overridden by the House, the GOP hopes to pick up the required three Senate seats in November.

The WP runs a piece on rent control (in Cambridge MA) which reports that after price ceilings were abolished 1) poorer people moved out; 2) wealthier people moved in; and 3) wealthier people spend more money on things. The NYT gives prominent place to the headline “Novice Ranchers Find Fun and Profit in Breeding Alpacas”. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s because the NYT ran an almost identical piece on emus just two months ago–substitute “emu” for each appearance of “alpaca” and the pieces are the same (except apparently alpacas are more lucrative). Today’s Papers checked and, astoundingly, the articles are written by different people. Next month: Bison Are Low Fat (and Lip Smackin’).