Today's Papers

The Thong Show

All three weekend papers lead with summary and analysis of the just-released Starr report. The papers highlight the document’s main points as: 1) President Clinton broke his oath of office through perjury and obstruction of justice, 2) the President had 10 sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky, all in the White House, 3) the President committed 11 separate acts that are possible grounds for impeachment. The papers all describe the Clinton counter-spin, too–Starr’s report is a vicious personal attack that fails to demonstrate any impeachable offense.

The Washington Post lead notes that Clinton declined comment about the Starr report at Friday’s White House breakfast. He did, however, make his most emotive expression of regret to date–including a direct apology to Monica and the Lewinsky family. He also announced that he has ordered his lawyers to prepare a “vigorous defense” against the Starr report.

The WP lead also reveals some sordid details of the affair including the infamous cigar story, simultaneous engagements in oral sex and phone conversations with members of Congress, and a White House rendezvous immediately after Easter Sunday services. The three papers all note that Starr’s justification for including such prurient details was Clinton’s numerous denials of having “sexual relations” with Lewinsky according to the legal definition established in the Paula Jones case.

The New York Times lead gets right to the political consequences of the report–the House must now decide if Starr’s case merits the start of impeachment proceedings. The NYT calls the 445-page (or 453-page according to the WP) document “relentlessly accusative” and says it alleges crimes for which the President could be prosecuted even if he leaves office. The article calls accusations that Clinton lied under oath five times “perhaps the most damaging portion of the report,” but judges sections about abuse of power and witness tampering “less conclusive.”

All three papers relate the tale of intern Lewinsky raising her jacket and revealing thong underwear to the President. Today’s Papers is puzzled by the logistics of such a divulgence and begs to know (but is not told by the papers) exactly where and how she was wearing a thong that became visible simply by lifting her jacket. A NYT article also reveals Clinton’s denial of charges that he harassed Kathleen Willey. According to the report, the President told Lewinsky “he would never approach a small-breasted woman.”

A Los Angeles Times Analysis piece reports relief among Democrats that Starr’s report contained no new allegations against the President. One political expert thinks that with the lack of fresh dirt, Clinton may have “turned a corner in his favor.” The piece also notes another sign of relief: the Dow was up 179.96 points on Friday.

All three weekend fronts include stories on Yevgeny Primakov’s confirmation as Prime Minister of Russia. The papers all note his appointment of two Communist Party favorites to top government posts, a sure sign of movement towards tighter regulation of markets. Interestingly, the papers report Primakov’s invocation of FDR and the New Deal as an example of successful government intervention in an economic crisis.