Today's Papers

McGwire Stories

The New York Times leads with Janet Reno’s decision to launch an inquiry into whether or not during his 1996 re-election bid, President Clinton coordinated an “issue” advertising campaign that was in fact an improper attempt to circumvent federal limits on his own campaign ad budget. The story also gets major play on the Washington Post front, but is not on the Los Angeles Times front, and is just barely reefered at USA Today. The Post goes with President Clinton’s attempts to marshal congressional support for the coming storm. The LAT leads with the Dow’s biggest 1-day point gain ever, which is the off-lead at the WP, and is also fronted at USAT and the NYT. USAT gives over three-quarters of its front page to Mark McGwire’s record-breaking 62nd home run, a story that also cops mega column-inchage at the LAT and NYT, but which is missing altogether–due to deadline constraints, no doubt–from the front of the first available edition of the WP. McGwire is widely quoted thanking his family, his son, the Cubs, and Sammy Sosa. The NYT reports that before the game, he rubbed Roger Maris’ record-setting bat on his body.

The NYT and the WP note that Reno’s newest inquiry is the third different DOJ look at a White House operation initiated in the past two weeks. Although, notes the NYT, this one’s more personal, naming Clinton as the principal subject. Reno has, explains the paper, reviewed the issue ad issue at least three times before, but each time stopped after an initial 30-day review. Both papers report what has been widely suggested in recent days–that a Federal Election Commission report helped persuade her to look again. And both report a White House lawyer’s comment that the vexed ads were carefully previewed by lawyers. The WP entices with the tidbit that the Dole ‘96 campaign ads are also under review at Justice, but at an earlier stage of review. (Why isn’t it as far along? The paper doesn’t say.)

The WP lead and NYT front report that Kenneth Starr is likely to deliver his report to Congress as early as the end of this week, probably sooner than the White House expected. Well-placed lawyers talking to the Times tell the paper that the report is likely to say that President Clinton lied under oath in his Jones case deposition and to include embarrassing descriptions of Clinton’s conduct with Monica Lewinsky. The WP lead and the NYT report that Clinton is scrambling to marshal Democratic congressional support, with advisors reporting that he is going to apologize at a meeting with House Democrats today. He may also, says the Times, apologize later this week at a White House prayer breakfast. The Post reports that at a Tuesday appearance at an elementary school, Clinton seemed subdued.

The LAT off-lead is the confession by long-time Yeltsin advisor, Anatoly Chubais, that Russia “conned” the international community out of nearly $20 billion in loans by hiding the severity of the country’s fiscal problems. If the government had told the truth, Chubais is quoted as saying, the Russian economy would have collapsed last spring and lenders “would have stopped dealing with us forever.”

For once, have some pity on the Corrections folks at the NYT. Today, they were somehow forced to run this one: “An article in Arts & Ideas on Aug. 29 about the changing role of the audience in political theater misstated the name of a theater institute at Harvard and the title of its leader. It is the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue (not “for” Arts), and the writer and actress Anna Deveare Smith is its director, not artistic director.”

According to the Wall Street Journal “Tax Report,” just about everybody in official Washington stood up Tuesday to denounce the idea reported earlier in the week that the IRS would impose the gift tax on any fan who tried to give a historic home run ball back to the slugger who launched it. Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry is quoted saying the idea was “about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” (And think of all the dumb things he gets to hear.) Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan dashed off a letter of complaint to the commissioner of the IRS, and another senator blasted the commissioner over the phone. The IRS quickly issued a statement making it clear that the fan would not owe gift tax. The one problem with all this: despite the apparent oddity of the home run ball case, not one of these horrified public servants has shown why it isn’t a perfectly straightforward application of the gift tax. So shouldn’t they rethink the whole idea? (Look for a WSJ editorial to make this point any day now.)