Today's Papers

Gloating Rights Act of 1999

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times lead with the issues that the Senate must soon resolve to complete its impeachment trial. The situation is also flagged in the Wall Street Journal front-page news box. With conviction and removal of President Clinton almost surely off the table, say the papers, stress will instead be on: whether or not to call any of the already deposed witnesses to the Senate chamber for questioning, whether or not to release to the public the videotapes of their depositions, and whether or not to vote on findings of fact in the case or on a formal censure of Clinton instead. Although support for these choices play out largely along party lines, the papers note that Republican support for the choices that make life more complicated for Clinton has flagged somewhat in recent days. USA Today leads with the nationwide gas wars, caused by an oil glut and petroleum industry improvements. The upshot: the national average price of a gallon of gas is now 97.9 cents–18 cents below a year ago and the lowest since 1979. Adjusted for inflation, the paper says, gas prices are the lowest in history.

On the impeachment front, despite the handwriting on the wall, there are still plenty of Republicans strolling the halls of Congress with ink remover. Trent Lott, say the papers, sent Clinton a letter signed by him and half of the Republican caucus, for a total of 28 senators, requesting that the president make himself available for a deposition. But even that letter stated that the Senate would not attempt to compel Clinton to testify.

One sign that there really is light now at the end of the impeachment tunnel is that according to USAT, the House managers expect to lose on their request for live testimony. Another: according to the WP, the White House acknowledged yesterday that a Democratic pep rally on the South Lawn immediately after Clinton was impeached provoked many in Congress and promised that if Clinton is not convicted the White House would be a “gloat-free zone.” The LAT has this too, explicitly crediting the quote to spokesman Joe Lockhart.

An LAT front-pager and a story inside the NYT report that the offices of onetime Yeltsin intimate, gezillionaire Boris Berezovsky (the LAT headline calls him the “Rasputin” of the current scene), were raided this week by government agents on the trail of Berezovsky’s political espionage organization. The LAT says the raid uncovered evidence of tapped phone conversations of Yeltsin family members.

An inside story at the WP piggybacks on a story in this week’s New Republic amassing strong evidence that Tom DeLay, a leading congressional doubter of President Clinton’s truthfulness under oath, said under oath in a civil case that he was not an officer of a Texas pest control company even though at about the same time he reported to Congress that he was the company’s chairman. The Post reports that a Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, has turned up evidence that DeLay made further misstatements about the amount of money he was drawing from the company and also about the amount of speaking fees he received.

The USAT front reports that in response to rising passenger “air rage” over poor airline service, a bipartisan bill, the “Airline Passenger Fairness Act” will be introduced in the Senate on Friday. Oddly, the story doesn’t say what rights will thereby be protected, although presumably they won’t include the right to intestinally offload onto the liquor cart (an actual incident).

An inside story at the NYT says that the gay oriented magazine, The Advocate, reports that a gay Marine who was pseudonymously the subject of a NYT Sunday Magazine article last year appeared in several gay pornographic films while he was on active duty. (He had not, says today’s story, informed the magazine of this.) The story doesn’t explore whether this fact would be grounds for dismissal under the present “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Which is too bad, since it’s actually an interesting test case. If a soldier is completely circumspect in his military life and makes every effort to disguise his involvement in explicitly gay-only-oriented activities to the point of using a pseudonym, etc., in what sense is he “telling”?

Today’s coverage of the impending Senate actions on impeachment includes a journalism tic that Today’s Papers deplores. The NYT states, “Tonight, in an effort to put the President in an awkward position, more than two dozen Republican senators wrote to Clinton to ask him to voluntarily testify in the trial.” The italicized motive-attributing phrase (italics added) is completely unsupported in the story. And therefore shouldn’t be there. The telltale sign that such phrases represent the illicit smuggling into a story of a political opinion is that just below this the story continues, “The White House has steadfastly said that Clinton would not take such a step and instantly rejected the proposal.” Forget the slight note of character build-up that comes with “steadfastly,” but please do notice that this sentence does not read, “In order to make Republicans look bad, the White House has…”