Today's Papers

Proctors Without Borders

The papers lead with overlapping doses of Kosovo news. The Washington Post begins with Yugoslavia’s offer, and NATO’s prompt rejection of, a peace plan midwifed by Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin. All three papers report that NATO pilots flew 600 sorties over Yugoslavia, which constituted (in a now-familiar phrase) “the heaviest bombing yet.” The airstrikes blew apart Belgrade’s army headquarters, the Interior Ministry, and a bevy of bridges, factories, and missile sites. The first paragraph of the Los Angeles Times story says the 600 sorties were flown in one night, but the 23rd paragraph recants, dating them to late Thursday and early Friday. The WP explains that they were flown throughout a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday.

A New York Times reporter accompanies Jesse Jackson’s visit to the captured GIs, who are mentally dazed but physically unharmed. Jackson, who urged the men to “view the jail experience as a time of reflection,” was joined by an Illinois congressman, the Times scribe, and a CNN film crew. None of the papers attempt to explain why, out of all American politicians and clergy, Jesse Jackson was invited for a visit– but the Times shrugs that the visitors were chosen by the Yugoslav government.

The WP explains how yet another low-tech, pedestrian snafu limits even the most dazzling Allied military technology. Because many NATO countries haven’t been rich or savvy enough to install secure communications on their airplanes, all NATO pilots must descend to the lowest common denominator of security. The Yugoslavs are listening in with a crack team of conscripted English teachers, and may have already foiled several NATO attacks.

The LAT reports that the Clinton administration is leaning towards using the Kosovo Liberation Army to dispense food to Kosovar refugees. Pros: the refugees are beginning to starve, which could provide more impetus for a ground war, and the administration is “desperate” to take action soon. Cons: the KLA is a tainted and sketchy organization, and it can’t distribute very much food at one time anyway.

The papers carry essentially the same story- that is, the same as each other’s, and virtually the same as the ones they’ve printed every time these stats come out– about the Commerce Dept.’s announcement that the U.S. experienced 4.5% annual growth during in the first quarter of 1999. A national “shopping spree” (WP) has kicked our economy into the “stratosphere” (LAT) with “no signs of flagging” (NYT). The LAT and WP front the story, but the Times gives it more discursive treatment on the front page of the Business section.

The WP fronts the release of a March 1998 police report in which a Columbine High School parent told police that Eric Harris often bragged of “making pipe bombs and using them to kill numerous people.” The NYT adds that the charges were printed in the crime column of a local weekly paper.

One correction, please: yesterday’s column erred in attributing the Chernobyl computer virus to a citizen of the Peoples’ Republic of China. The author of the virus was in fact revealed to be from Taiwan.

The NYT reports that the local NBC affiliate aired a long and explicit instructional video on breast self-examination. The broadcast aired on the first night of the May sweeps period, but the station demurs from any appearance of opportunism. “If we were truly trying to be provocative and titillating, said the program’s news director, “I would have taken nude breasts and put them in promos and teases.”