Today's Papers

Tape That!

Impeachment-driven press lockstep is back, with all the majors leading with the Senate’s decision to admit into evidence not Monica live but Monica Memorex.

According to the coverage, yesterday’s Senate votes fixed the impeachment endgame and put the proceedings on course for a wrap-up next week. The end will, guess the papers, be an acquittal on both the perjury and obstruction counts, with no finding of facts in lieu of a conviction, but, after the trial, very possibly a resolution of censure. The vote not to call Lewinsky in person, note the papers, was the first one in the proceedings that didn’t follow party lines: 25 Republicans voted on the winning side, against the Republican House managers. USA Today sees “impeachment fatigue” in the day’s debate, and the New York Times says there was little ardor or urgency in the speeches, comparing the whole thing to a “cooling souffl,.” But the Times captures a flash of emotion here and there, noting that one House manager said, “If one senator has failed to personally sit through this deposition and every deposition, that senator is not equipped to render a verdict on the impeachment trial of the President of the United States.” And the Los Angeles Times reports that when the House managers asked for up to eight hours to question Lewinsky in the Senate chamber, “a clearly disgusted” Sen. Barbara Boxer reacted with an audible gasp.

The decision to allow the Lewinsky deposition tape into evidence for next week’s phase of the trial was reached over the objections of the White House. Both the Washington Post and NYT note that presidential counsel Gregory Craig argued in the Senate that the tape would add “to the agony, to the embarrassment, and to the humiliation” of the Clinton family. The Post points out that the Senate vote on video admissibility contains a rider that excludes any statements made by the witnesses after the end of the direct response to the last question, meaning that a statement by Jordan at the conclusion of his appearance and an apology offered to Lewinsky by a White House lawyer at the end of hers will not be disseminated.

The NYT lead editorial says the real action now is the behind-the-scenes negotiations among senators to arrive at a censure resolution. Democratic senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Dianne Feinstein are shopping a draft that condemns President Clinton’s actions as “shameless, reckless and indefensible.” The White House would go for that, says the paper, but the Republicans will “rightly” insist on language reflecting that Clinton knowingly lied under oath, tampered with evidence and witnesses, and attempted to interfere in the progress of a civil rights suit.

The LAT front features a piece summarizing the witness depositions. At one point, when Monica Lewinsky is asked if she thinks Bill Clinton is an intelligent man, she replies, “I think he’s an intelligent president.” At this remark, the room full of attorneys, congressmen and senators “erupted into laughter.” And in his depo, Vernon Jordan haughtily offered his version of the separation of powers doctrine: “I do not view the president as giving me instructions.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers have just presented evidence that drug-resistant versions of the AIDS virus are more prevalent in the U.S. than previously thought. They say 20 percent to 30 percent of those newly infected are carrying forms of the virus resistant to one of the 13 different medicines used in the combination-drug therapy most successful in treating AIDS, and that perhaps 10 percent are being exposed to viruses resistant to at least two of those drugs.

The NYT front reports an incident that could become another scandal for the NYPD: A West African immigrant was shot to death by four city cops who in all pumped 41 rounds into him. The man was unarmed, and no weapon was found near his body.

The NYT and WSJ report a new revelation made by the German firm Deutsche Bank in its attempt to placate Holocaust survivors whose property ended up in the bank’s accounts so that it can receive approval of its planned takeover of the American financial institution Bankers Trust. It seems there was one little building project the bank helped finance but never mentioned until now: Auschwitz.

The WSJ reports that Lockheed, one of the companies in the competition to develop a new fighter airplane for all the services, has thus far racked up $150 million in cost overruns. The quoted response of the general in charge of the program says a lot about the military’s attitude towards sloppy management: “This isn’t an end-of-the-world problem.” The Journal points out that the debacle is “somewhat ironic” in that the plane is supposed to be “low-end.” One glaring defect in the story: it doesn’t breathe a word about what problems are causing the money hemorrhage.

Timothy McVeigh, convicted Oklahoma City bomber and Ramzi Yousef, convicted World Trade Center bomber, are both inmates at a Florence, Colorado super-maximum security federal penitentiary. And according to the WP TV column, the two talk when they’re in the exercise yard together–about old-time flicks they’ve enjoyed on Turner Classic Movies, which they see via the prison’s free cable hook-up. The Post wonders if they were watching last month when TCM featured “Escape from Alcatraz,” “I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang,” and “The Great Escape.”