Today's Papers

Return of the Screw

Yesterday’s sideshow–Ken Starr asking a judge to make Monica Lewinsky talk to the House managers–takes center stage at the papers today because the judge agreed, bringing Lewinsky back to the town that knew her when.

The Washington Post has a one-deck banner (“Judge Orders Lewinsky to Cooperate”) about the resulting “uproar,” the latest one to distract senators. Yesterday’s uproar was prompted by Sen. Robert Byrd, who said he would introduce a motion to dismiss next week. The Los Angeles Times goes with a sensational two decks across four columns (“Judge Orders Lewinsky to Meet Prosecutors; Senate in Turmoil”) over a lead describing a “storm of partisan fire” in the Senate. Both papers seem caught up by the senatorial confusion and the drama of Lewinsky jetting back into the capital as the ruling was issued. The New York Times plays it much more calmly; the one-column lead story sees “turmoil” but holds the line at full uproariness. The NYT is most clear in describing why Lewinsky was so summarily ordered to talk: Her immunity agreement not only said specifically that she must cooperate with “congressional proceedings,” but also that she talk to Starr’s attorneys before “representatives of other institutions” if she’s asked to. She’ll be doing the talking today, the papers say.

The continuation of the question period in the Senate trial is the second story in the NYT. R.W. Apple has what may or may not turn out to be a significant chink in the Republican armor: House manager Lindsey Graham’s concession that “Reasonable people can disagree on what we should do [i.e., convict or not].” The WP is more interested in Trent Lott’s efforts to keep the Republican forces in line. You have to read a while in all the papers before you find out that no one thinks Byrd’s motion will pass when he makes it. The WP is good on the reasons for the Democrats’ dyspeptic reaction to the trial managers’ Lewinsky gambit: they view it as a violation of the supposed bipartisan agreement worked out before the Senate trial. But the paper points out that such fracturing was inevitable, because those first days of relative amity came at the expense of the senators’ actually making a decision on witnesses.

Doyle McManus, the LAT’s D.C. bureau chief, looks at the situation pessimistically: “The likely result: an ugly battle along party lines, a series of arguments over witnesses, and at least several more weeks of trial for the Senate.”

On the WP’s op-ed page, David Broder makes an iconoclastic case for the Senate’s hearing one witness: Betty Currie. He says the obstruction of justice charge is still volatile, and that she, by being convincing one way or the other, can prevent the proceedings from being decided on something other than a party-line vote. The NYT editorial page restates its position on l’affaire Lewinsky–Clinton’s a jerk, but jerkiness isn’t cause for removal from office–and backs Byrd, calling his proposal “a just way to bring this tormented case to a close.” The House managers’ legal dance with Lewinsky, the paper says, is just a move to “hijack control of the trial.”

There’s grist for Clinton partisans on the front page of the NYT as well. A lengthy story details a “small secret clique” of lawyers who consulted with Paula Jones’ successive legal teams. They hate Clinton and have diverse connections to Ken Starr, Robert Bork, Dan Quayle, and other conservatives. The article begins with a pointed reference to Hillary Clinton’s charge that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” has Bill Clinton in its sights.

The NYT has a front-page story about the shockingly high rate of female suicide in China, which could be as much as five times the rest of the world’s average. The problem is in the country’s rural areas, where there seems to be an epidemic of impulsive suicide attempts, made more gruesome by the availability of a pesticide that doesn’t taste too bad.

The WP fronts an announcement that it will begin front-page color on Thursday, this courtesy of “eight new Mitsubishi printing presses.” The sports section and the weather map will brighten up as well.

The NYT’s “Week in Review” has a funny compilation of stories about self-defeating behavior in job interviews. The stories, which according to the paper come from a survey of execs at 200 major companies, include a tale about an interviewee who ordered a pizza for delivery during a lunch-hour interview, and another about a prospect who, when asked to bring references, showed up with two people in tow.

To a cheesy fashion spread featuring Mick Jagger’s daughter, the NYT Magazine appends a tacky postscript: a hymn to the Rolling Stones’ fashion sense from designer Tommy Hilfiger, who just happens to be the sponsor of the band’s current tour.