The New York Times and Washington Post lead with–and everybody else fronts–Al Gore’s announcement that he is moving his campaign headquarters to Tennessee, a move designed to symbolize a break from inside-the-Beltway politics and a too-close association with President Clinton. It is largely perceived by the papers as a sign of distress in the Gore campaign, which the NYT calls “lagging” and the Post calls “troubled”–references to a fund crunch and Bill Bradley’s much improved polls. The Los Angeles Times leads with a California appeals court ruling that gun manufacturers can be sued for negligence for promoting weapons in such a way that they would appeal to criminals. The unprecedented decision is stuffed elsewhere. USA Today leads with “STATES TO TIE TEACHER PAY TO RESULTS,” about how today, at a national education summit (Bill Clinton in attendance) at least 10 states will agree to test a program in which faculty checks and student grades go hand in hand. With the federal government having just given itself pay raises across the board without having produced a budget for the fiscal year that starts tomorrow one looks in vain for the alternative headline “STATES TO TIE POLITICIAN PAY TO RESULTS.” Oh well.
Some of the papers seem way too caught up in the Gore move. True, the WP calls it “largely symbolic”–but not until the 10th paragraph, after first calling it “a dramatic upheaval” and “part of a broad make-over.” And high up, the Post reports, without breaking stride, that the campaign’s other new changes include “an updated wardrobe.” There’s also the pseudo-drama of the WP describing how Gore summoned two top aides to his house Monday night to tell them of his decision to move and asking them if they would move with him. “Both replied yes, although,” throbs the Post, “other stunned aides were uncertain what to do.” USAT says of Gore’s announcement: “The air of nervousness and tension in the room was palpable,” giving as evidence–hold the front page–that Gore first headed toward the wrong microphone. The NYT is more analytical, spending much of the top part of its story focusing on Gore’s money troubles, even noting that the move to Nashville will mean lower rents.
The papers contain reports of the discovery in East Timor of 10 badly burned bodies, almost surely civilians. Lest one slip into thinking this is something only “they” do, the NYT and LAT go top-of-the-page with an Associated Press scoop that former American soldiers have recently revealed that in the early days of the Korean War, they machine-gunned as many as several hundred Korean refugees. The AP research was thorough–130 interviews including all 24 Korean survivors. The Pentagon response thus far has been that there is no archival evidence of any such incident. (The papers should have dug up the initial denials issued by five-siders when My Lai was first reported.) On the other hand, there’s this from a veteran who claims to have been there, quoted in the NYT: “On summer nights when the breeze is blowing, I can still hear their cries, the little kids screaming.”
Yesterday, Bill Clinton announced that he would cancel all $5.7 billion of the debt owed to the U.S. by 36 desperately poor countries, provided they channel the money thus saved into the likes of education and health. How to explain the meager play the announcement gets? The WP, for instance, puts it on Page 18.
The NYT fronts the U.S. government’s warning that parents should not sleep in the same bed with a child less than 2 years old because of the danger of accidental smothering or strangling. The WP puts the story inside. The Times notes that the recommendation was met with outrage from many pediatricians and parents, on the grounds that bed-sharing provides many benefits, such as bonding and the promotion of breast-feeding.
The Wall Street Journal runs a commentary by Donald Trump saying that yes, he is seriously considering a run for president and will make his mind up later this year. He states that he has been influenced by the entreaties of Jesse Ventura and further convinced of the appropriateness of running by the tepid response among Republican candidates to Pat Buchanan’s Hitler remarks. Trump lays out a few positions, promising to get tough with Castro and saying no to the stock marketization of Social Security. He offers as proof of his fiscal acumen his management of the repair of the Wollman Skating Rink.
Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer held a press conference to deny rumors (launched by former officials of his campaign) that he’s had an adulterous affair with an aide. The papers put the story inside. The WP effort features a sampling of policies of various people in public life designed to avoid baseless rumors of sexual misconduct: The Rev. Billy Graham has refused to be alone in a room with any women besides his wife since the 1940s; Rep. Steve Largent insists on having a male staff member present whenever he meets with a woman; and John Ensign, running for the Senate in Nevada, will not be alone in a car with a woman.