Today's Papers

Who Do You Anti-Trust?

Like yesterday, Palestine vs. Israel and DOJ vs. Microsoft dominate. The former leads at the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times, while USA Today goes with the latter. (The MS story is fronted everywhere, except the LAT, which saves it for the business section.) The Bill Clinton-hosted Mideast peace talks, already not going well, were sent into an even deeper freeze early Monday by a grenade attack on Israelis in Beersheba.

The papers report that so intent is Clinton on salvaging the talks that he canceled a scheduled Monday fund-raising trip to California to stay personally involved at the rural Maryland site of the talks. And indeed, in the course of the day, he presided at a three-way meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat–their first time in the same room since Friday. Other heads of state are also trying to keep the sides talking–the NYT, WP, and LAT report that King Hussein of Jordan has flown to a house he owns in Maryland and was standing by to help, and the NYT says Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been in contact with both sides. But apparently the principals are still flunking chemistry. The Times quotes an un-named American official saying that the two sides do not deal seriously with each other without an American in the room, and another saying that it pretty much takes Clinton’s presence to get talks going.

The Israeli leadership at the conference reacted to the grenade attack by insisting that it would only discuss security issues with the Palestinians, a stance the NYT calls a “dramatic negotiating ploy,” probably not the most apt phrase, since there’s little doubt that the Israeli concern about safety from terrorism is heartfelt. But both the NYT and LAT report that later on Monday, other issues were actually discussed–the NYT doesn’t say what though, and the LAT refers only vaguely to the topic of further redeployments of Israeli troops.

All the Microsoft coverage makes it very clear that the government has decided to make its case very much about Bill Gates. USAT’s lead runs under the headline “Gates Singled Out in Trial.” The government started its case, all the papers report, by contrasting Bill Gates’ video deposition (displayed on a “larger-than-life screen” says the WP; the NYT says “10-foot”) in which he said he knew nothing more about an alleged market-carving meeting with browser rival Netscape than what he read in the newspaper (actually he mentioned the Wall Street Journal, a fact included by everybody–including the WSJ–except USAT), with a Gates email in which he states “…there is a very powerful deal of some kind we can do with Netscape…We could even pay them money as part of the deal, buying some piece of them or something.” USAT also notes that in the direct testimony of Netscape CEO James Barksdale released Monday, Barksdale claims Microsoft used threats and bribes to get various PC manufacturers and Internet service providers to go with MS’ browser. Some of the papers feature an AOL exec’s email in which he claims, “Gates delivered a characteristically blunt query: ‘How much do we need to pay you to screw Netscape? This is your lucky day.’” Wonder if “screw” kept that quote out of The Nation’s Newspaper.

MS’ top lawyer is widely quoted as calling the email evidence “snippets taken out of context.” The WP is pretty free with descriptions of Gates, saying that in his video depo, he was “slouching” and was “visibly testy.” The Barksdale testimony is the subject of a separate story inside the Post. Meanwhile, a pro-Microsoft NYT op-ed by a semi-conductor CEO wonders, “If Microsoft violated the law by giving away browsers, why didn’t Netscape?”

A front-page LAT story reports that military authorities, concerned by a recent spate of public Lewinsky-driven criticisms of President Clinton by military personnel–in service-oriented publications and in the WSJ and on the Internet–are threatening service members with punishment if they utter “contemptuous words” about their Commander-in-Chief. The paper says the recent criticisms represent a “downturn” in Clinton’s standing with the military.

HBO should never be puzzled again about its target demographic for Tyson fight broadcasts. According to a NYT story, Iron Mike himself cleared that up at the hearing yesterday where he regained permission to box in Nevada. “I represent,” he testified, “people, pimps, whores, prostitutes.”