Today's Papers

Not Avant Guard

Rich news diversity breaks out today, with nobody’s lead on anybody else’s front. The New York Times leads with the Clinton administration’s planning of an extensive FBI-run monitoring system for protecting government computers and those in the private sector from hackers. (The extensive story is virtually an exclusive, with the Wall Street Journal running a brief dispatch on the same subject.) The Washington Post goes with the announcement that NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark will be leaving his post earlier than anticipated. The Los Angeles Times lead is the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding the public’s right to attend civil trials. The ruling came in connection with the bitter lawsuit between Clint Eastwood and his former companion Sondra Locke, in which the judge, citing the need to keep the jury free of reporting about the case, banned the public and the media from case proceedings in which the jury was not present. Several media companies pursued an appeal, arguing among other things, that some of the legal battles that have had the most impact on Americans’ lives have been fought in civil cases. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has, says the LAT, affirmed the public’s right of access to criminal trials many times, no high court in the country has ever, before now, done the same on the civil side. USA Today goes with the government’s approval of the first new anti-flu drug in a decade, an inhalant. Optimally, the drug will cut the length of a flu bout by 40 percent, and significantly reduce the chances of escalation into a severe case.

The Times lead waits until the 11th paragraph to inform readers that the FBI computer monitoring system will be in place in 2003. That’s after the jump–too late in the story. By the way, the paper says it got its computer scoop when a civil liberties group (not identified by the paper), concerned about the project’s potential for abusive intrusion, provided an NSC memo on the project. Hmm … wonder if the NYT has a policy against accepting such materials if they’re the product of a hack …

The WP says that Gen. Clark was “abruptly informed” that he will be leaving the command of NATO next April, about a year earlier than expected, and connects the departure to tension between the Pentagon and Clark during the Kosovo war, marked by Clark’s repeated requests for more troops and equipment than the Department of Defense was planning to provide. The NYT, in its inside story, credits the Post, but does something the Post doesn’t–reminds the reader that Clark’s replacement was once in line to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs but had to step aside “because of a blemish in his personal life.” The Gray Lady won’t show any more leg than that though, deigning not to remind the reader just what the zit was.

The NYT fronts Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s whimsical campaign countervisit to Arkansas. Playing along with the joke was Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is quoted as saying of Rudy G.: “He’s never been here before, he’s never worked here, he’s never lived here. Today, he will be announcing his candidacy for some significant major office in Arkansas.” The WP runs its piece on the episode deep inside.

On its front, the WP takes its swing at the Air National Guard career of George W. Bush. The story says the Texas Guard was famous for string pulling for the sons of the influential, noting that Lloyd Bentsen’s son was inducted into the ANG at about the same time GWB was. If George W. can be dinged for not quite remembering who suggested he apply to the unit–he says it was unspecified friends, not his dad–the Post can be dinged for not mentioning that the LAT got to this story first.

The WSJ “California” page reports that the state legislature is likely to pass a bill the would prevent writers, filmmakers, and songwriters from making unauthorized use of the images of dead people. The bill would withhold this particular piece of poetic license from everybody but … politicians.

The Journal’s “Tax Report” runs a nugget that says a lot about the growth of this economy. The number of Americans with adjusted gross incomes of $1 million or more in 1997 (the last year for which stats are available) was 142,556, nearly double the total for 1995. (Of course, after taxes, not all these people are millionaires, but on the other hand there are many net-worth millionaires who make less than a million annually.)

The WP reports inside that a coalition of Hispanic groups has announced its intent to conduct a yearlong boycott of the four major networks over its dissatisfaction concerning the under-representation of Latinos on television. The group makes up 11 percent of the U.S. population, but less than 1 percent of television’s lead characters. It’s more than a little puzzling that the LAT, with a huge Latino population in its coverage area, a paper that has recently given over quite a bit of front-page space to blacks’ complaints about their sparse television presence, runs the story on Page 12.