Today's Papers

Un-Free Willy

Everybody leads with Kenneth Starr’s sudden delivery to Congress yesterday afternoon of his report claiming there is substantial evidence that President Clinton, in his behavior relating to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, committed crimes that may be impeachable offenses. “The fate of the Clinton presidency,” says the Wall Street Journal, is now in Congress’ hands. The headlines at the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the New York Times all include the word “impeachment.” The Washington Post front gives itself over most completely to the development, but its headlines omit the I-word. Perhaps quite by accident or perhaps with full subversive intent, a headline over another WP front-page story–about the return of a certain movie killer whale to the high seas–sends an ominous message, though: “A Whale of an Ending for ‘Willy’”.

The WP and NYT speak somewhat vaguely of the report’s allegations of perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power. USAT is more concrete, saying that according to a “lawyer with knowledge of the report,” Starr’s 445-page effort–shipped over with supporting documents in duplicate in 36 sealed boxes–flatly concludes that Clinton perjured himself twice, once in his Jones case deposition and once in his videotaped grand jury testimony. In addition, the paper says the report finds that Clinton’s efforts to find Lewinsky a job were obstruction of justice. The LAT is also somewhat detailed, quoting “one legal source” (hmmm…wonder if he’s A Lawyer With Knowledge Of The Report?) as agreeing that perjury is charged, and elaborating that the charge arises from Clinton’s denial of sex with Lewinsky and for claiming he could not remember being alone with her except when she was delivering papers to him.

The WSJ says the report also alleges that attempts by Vernon Jordan to find Lewinsky a job were aimed at keeping her silent. USAT says the Starr report sees no wrongdoing in Jordan’s efforts. The Journal quotes “allies of Mr. Starr” as saying that the report includes many heretofore unreleased details that will “surprise the public.” Everybody notes the report is sitting in a locked House storage room while the congressional leadership decides how to proceed. The NYT and USAT say the report could be made public Friday. USAT says this might include Internet access.

The WP detects “a rising sense of helplessness” at the White House. The WSJ and LAT report that on the heels of yesterday’s apology session with House leaders, President Clinton will today offer more of the same to Senate Democrats and his Cabinet. The NYT says Clinton was “sad, somber and choked up” at the Wednesday session. The Journal says that ill feeling towards the president among pols is “pervasive.” Everybody reports another Clinton apology Wednesday, delivered at a public appearance in Florida. The LAT says he was “husky-voiced and somber” for that one. (It turns out that sex means always having to say you’re sorry.)

There’s other news today: The NYT reports that the Communists are threatening Boris Yeltsin with impeachment if he renominates Viktor Chernomyrdin to be his prime minister (a story first broached earlier in the week by the LAT); the WP and NYT report that government security guards in Beijing brutally hauled away the wife of a jailed dissident to keep her from delivering a letter of protest to the visiting U.N. commissioner on human rights. (She was released several hours later.) The WP reports that U.S. investigators have focused in on a rural truck repair facility as the likely staging area for the Tanzania embassy bombing.

And then there’s intrepid WP reporter Libby Ingrid Copeland’s tireless 575-word effort to discover things that have the same circumference as Mark McGwire’s arms. Such as: D.C. parking meters, personal pan pizzas, a two-year-old’s head, a twenty-three-old woman’s thigh. Things that fall short: Several male-in-the-street biceps, including those of an unnamed reporter, a coffee cup. All this and a quote from Louis Farrakhan too. Note to Post management: check the ventilation in the “Style” section offices.