Today's Papers

Starr: Dwarf or Giant

USAT, the NYT and LAT lead with Kenneth Starr’s testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee. The WP has two Starr stories on its front, but leads instead with the Republicans’ House leadership elections, which garner big front space at the other papers. The only real news there is that J.C. Watts, the House’s only black Republican, ascended to one of the party’s top House posts.

Everybody stresses that Starr will claim that President Clinton’s conduct in the Lewinsky matter was part of a general pattern of misusing his office to prevent the dissemination of damaging information about him, but it’s also pointed out everywhere that his testimony will contain the first revelation that Starr has exonerated President Clinton in the White House travel office firings and in connection with the transferal of FBI background files to the White House. It’s apparent from the accounts that the other major area of alleged Clinton dissembling Starr has in mind is his original raison d’^tre, Whitewater, both in connection with Clinton’s testimony at the Arkansas trial of the McDougals and Jim Guy Tucker, and in the president’s apparent involvement in the channeling of funds to Webster Hubbell after the latter’s conviction. And the WP points out that Starr goes out of his way to condemn Clinton for his encouragement, in a TV interview, of Susan McDougal’s continued silence. The LAT states most clearly the dimension in which today’s testimony is an advance over Starr’s previous written report: that document spoke of possible grounds for impeachment, whereas according to the LAT, Starr will say Clinton “should be removed from office.”

All the papers write from advance copies of his prepared testimony made available by Starr, and they all report that Clinton will be in Asia during Starr’s appearance. They also all mention that Clinton has not yet replied to the 81 questions submitted to him by Judiciary chairman Hyde, pleading lack of time given the Iraq crisis, but it’s the WP that mentions in this connection that Clinton played golf on Monday. On the other hand, the Post also has a quote from Hyde in which he gives up the game of merely being a disinterested searcher for truth. Asked if Starr needed to hit a home run today, Hyde is quoted: “I’d settle for a line drive over third.”

The papers also mention that neither the White House nor committee Democrats are pleased that the time to question Starr has been limited, but none mentions that in his testimony before Starr’s grand jury, Clinton likewise limited the amount of time he sat for questions.

A WSJ front-page feature depicts the interactions of a computer industry consortium focused on keeping Microsoft at bay, the so-called NOISE group: Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun and Everybody else. The paper claims that in the service of their goal, the companies have engaged in “cabal”-like behavior, and that the fate of the alliance may affect the future of the software industry far more than the outcome of the Microsoft anti-trust trial. The story states the Justice Department explanation of why such consorting is not an anti-trust issue the way it says Microsoft’s activities are: “monopolies and their competitors play by different rules.”

Ever wonder where, in a tickerless financial world, all that paper for ticker tape parades come from? Well, today’s Journal reports, in the “Business Bulletin,” that for John Glenn’s parade at least, some of the stuff was a resume. No word on how the paper, er, pieced the story together.

There is a bunch of coverage today on the prospects for any internal, U.S.-supported overthrow of Saddam Hussein. A NYT front-pager describes U.S. officials as weary of the squabbling between ant-Hussein dissident groups, and says that at least one the U.S. is still funding is likely riddled with double agents. And a confluent NYT editorial concludes Hussein cannot be overthrown without an American invasion and occupation. The LAT has a front-page effort that quotes a U.S. expert as saying the plan of one rebel is akin to the Bay of Pigs. The piece also includes this ringing assessment from another expert: “The only military skill [the Iraqi Kurds] have ever demonstrated is the ability to fight each other over smuggling rights.” Apparently, there is no Kurdish Anti-Defamation League.