Today's Papers

Hyde Crimes or Misdemeanors?

The big story today is what happens when blue tape meets red tape, with the House Judiciary wrangle over the release of Starr report evidence–including the Clinton video–leading at USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times puts that story on the top front, but goes instead with Congress’ likely decision to transfer control of satellite exports back to the State Dept. from the Commerce Dept., a development with its roots in a now-nearly forgotten Clinton technology-transfer-for-political-donations scandal broken last spring by the Times, a development nobody else’s front page covers. The provision is part of the defense budget bill, which makes it politically hard, the Times points out, for President Clinton to veto it.

Contrary to expectations, yesterday the Judiciary committee did not release the video of Clinton’s grand jury testimony. But, the papers report, the delay didn’t have much to do with the tape itself, but rather with all the other material involved, much of it Monica Lewinsky’s quite graphic descriptions of Oval Office sex. Committee members debated the material line by line–or “sex act by sex act,” as one committee source tells the LAT. Basically, the Democrats are trying to screen out as much material as possible, holding it to be not probative but merely inflammatory, while the Republicans are opting for maximum disclosure, arguing that the full House has already voted for just that. It’s widely reported that the Republicans are winning all the particular votes on this matter–with the Clinton grand jury video expected to be made public by the weekend.

The WP sees the contentiousness as a harbinger of the difficulties ahead in the next several months as the committee debates President Clinton’s fate. The LAT notes that the politics aren’t all black and white, with two House Democrats (not on the Judiciary committee) calling for the immediate release of all the Starr materials. And the WP reports that California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein is still so angry at Clinton about what she calls his “betrayal” that she recently turned down an invitation from him to talk it over.

The Lewinsky leads all report that the Judiciary Committee will also shortly receive a videotape of Clinton’s deposition in the Paula Jones case. The WP points out that this sets up the prospect of the TV networks running contrasts of that deposition with the president’s later and often conflicting grand jury appearance. The Wall Street Journal “Washington Wire” reports that the video of the latter begins with prosecutors asking Clinton for his understanding of the meaning of the oath to tell “the whole truth.”

There is much reporting in the papers of the fallout from the revelation that the Judiciary Committee chairman, Henry Hyde, had an adulterous affair in the 1960s. (The story was broken in Salon, a fact you could learn everywhere but in the NYT’s story, which merely cites “an on-line magazine’s disclosure.”) The House Republican leadership, the papers report, has asked the FBI to investigate if the story was part of a White House smear campaign. And there is plenty of reporting on Capitol Hill fears about who’s next, detailed for instance in a WP front-pager. Apparently now the concern is that those running for office won’t be asked what they’ve done, but who they’ve done. Both the USAT front page “cover story” and an inside story at the Post refer to the newly poisoned atmosphere as “sexual McCarthyism.”

According to front-page stories in the NYT and LAT about the report to be issued today by President Clinton’s much-ballyhooed commission on race, (the WP covered the report yesterday), the commission’s principal recommendation is the creation of a…commission on race. The NYT charitably calls the 15-months-in-the-making report “modest.” The LAT is harsher, running the headline: “Panel on Race Urges Nothing but More Talk.”

Both the NYT and the WP (which has been hitting such stories hard lately) report inside that dissidents attempting to register a democratically oriented political party in various parts of China were detained by police. This on the heels of a visit to China by the U.N.’s human rights commissioner that, says the WP, she hailed as “groundbreaking.”

A letter in the Post makes you wonder about the commitment of schools to excellence in teaching. The writer is a retired Navy submarine skipper with bachelor’s and master’s engineering degrees, twenty graduate credits in education, and college teaching experience. He explains that earlier this year he applied for a teaching job, sending his resume and transcripts to every middle school and high school in Fairfax County, Virginia. He received only one letter back–merely an acknowledgment–and got no interviews. For God’s sake, if a middle or high school principal in the area reads this item, get in touch with the Post and give this guy a jingle.

The WP’s “The Reliable Source” says that Washington, D.C.’s representative in the upcoming Miss America contest was a White House intern–a fact she now omits from her contest resume. “I didn’t,” she tells the paper, “want anybody to have any preconceptions about who I am.”