Today's Papers

Medium Performances

The grinding on of the House Judiciary committee’s impeachment hearings continues to dominate. The coverage focuses on the multi-media-illustrated presentations made yesterday to the committee by the Republican counsel, David Schippers, and the Democratic counsel, Abbe Lowell. The HJC is expected to vote today or tomorrow and the papers flatly assume that a censure proposal will be defeated and that at least one article of impeachment will pass. It remains unclear whether an additional censure measure will be put before the full House. Everybody has the detail that Newt Gingrich has sent out a letter to all House members advising them that the full House will probably begin reviewing the impeachment matter next Thursday. The NYT, WP and LAT fronts all run stories describing the White House’s low-profile campaign to work on wavering Republicans. The LAT lead reports that White House advisors are considering whether President Clinton should make a fresh public comment on the matter and USAT says there is “speculation” (not the best phrase–the reader’s entitled to know whose speculation we’re talking about here) that Clinton might even make a deeper public apology before leaving for the Middle East on Saturday.

The papers note that the two committee lawyers used snippets from President Clinton’s Jones case deposition and his appearance before the Starr grand jury as well as from the Linda Tripp tapes of Monica Lewinsky. The WP sees the qualities of a campaign ad in Lowell’s playing of a montage of Kenneth Starr’s testimony before Judiciary, in which he was shown to frequently respond to questions with “I cannot recall.”

The LAT and NYT note that in defense of Clinton, Lowell pointed out that impeachment wasn’t wielded when Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, when Roosevelt misled the public about Lend-Lease, nor against Ronald Reagan in connection with Iran-Contra. The LAT and WP report that Lowell also observed that the Watergate tapes showed the president orchestrating a massive cover-up using the CIA and the IRS, whereas the Lewinsky tapes showed “Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp talking about going shopping.” Now, of course, the Watergate tapes also contain much trivia and the Lewinsky-Tripp tapes also contain more serious matters. Shouldn’t the papers point this out?

Schippers’ presentation is seen as harder-edged. It’s noted by both the WP and USAT that he told the panel he’d found evidence of as yet unspecified further criminal actions by President Clinton but left it out of his presentation because of time constraints (says the WP) or because Ken Starr and the DOJ asked him to (says USAT). In response, reports the WP, committee Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren said this tactic was “Joe McCarthyite.” The NYT says both Lofgren and Barney Frank had this reaction.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to suppose that the White House was ultimately behind today’s WP story claiming that Judiciary impeachment stalwart Bob Barr was a keynote speaker earlier this year at a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which views interracial marriage as genocide against white people and says Abraham Lincoln’s core constituency was socialists and communists. In a letter, the paper reports, Barr declares the accusations unfounded. The source of the allegation is Clinton defender Alan Dershowitz.

The NYT front and an inside WP story each report that despite Federal Election Commission staffers’ findings that both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole should remit millions to the government for misusing party funds for ad purchases in 1996, the FEC voted unanimously against requiring such a payback. The papers opine that the climb-down is an invitation to further questionable use of ad money in the next presidential race.

The NYT runs a story inside saying that a new study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute has determined that in 1996 there were 650 “intact dilation and extraction” abortions, procedures where the fetus is partially delivered and then aborted. This is the procedure called by abortion opponents “partial birth abortion.” The Times avoids taking sides in the debate simply in its choice of nomenclature by identifying the procedure as the “late-term method that anti-abortion groups call partial-birth abortion.” Since it’s not possible to be partially born, Today’s Papers prefers “partial delivery abortion.” The NYT goes on to note that the number of non-surgical, medical abortions–achieved by taking a drug like RU-486–is rising rapidly, now taking place at the rate of about 8,000 per year.

Both the NYT and the WP report that this coming Sunday night, “60 Minutes” producer Don Hewitt will appear on the show to apologize for a previous broadcast of footage about the Colombian drug trade (purchased from a documentary-maker) that is now known to be fake, with actors playing drug dealers and a drug lair turning out to be a film-maker’s hotel room.