Today's Papers

Taint Necessarily News

USA Today

leads with what it describes as President Clinton’s refusal, on grounds of executive privilege, to provide Congress with documents it requested for its investigation of the FALN clemency. The New York Times and Washington Post each run this as their off-leads, choosing to lead instead with the continued course northward of Floyd, now downgraded to a tropical storm. The Los Angeles Times has its very own storm to lead with, a widening police scandal, called by the paper the city’s worst in 60 years, featuring allegations of shooting unarmed suspects, planting weapons on suspects and of drug dealing and sending at least one person to prison on totally false court testimony. The FALN investigation does not make the LAT’s front.

USAT notes high up that Clinton’s citation of executive privilege is the fourth such in his presidency. The WP sets the clemency dustup inside a broader context, noting that while Congress is investigating the FALN clemency, it is also probing the Clinton administration’s role in Russian banking improprieties, as well as the possibility of a cover-up about its conduct in the Waco confrontation. The NYT gives a more nuanced account of the standoff than the others. Whereas USAT says Clinton refused to hand over documents, and the Post says it’s saying no to witnesses too, the Times says the White House will release some clemency documents it feels are not covered by executive privilege and will allow three administration officials to appear at congressional hearings. But everybody agrees that there is now considerable friction between Congress and Clinton. On both sides of the aisle: USAT runs a critical quote about the clemency from a Democratic senator.

The fronts feature the now-routine day-after shooter profiles of the man who killed seven churchgoers and then himself in Texas on Wednesday. The LAT headline is almost a template, calling him a “loner, full of rage.” The NYT effort is typical in finding out that he was prone to mood swings, fantasized about murder, and was feared by several of his neighbors. Since this sort of information can evidently be put together in 24 hours, wouldn’t it be better to require authorities to do so before a gun purchase could legally be made, rather waiting for reporters to do so after a shooting?

The WP front reports that high tech companies appear to have prevailed in the long-simmering debate about whether or not national security concerns should prevent them from exporting software that encrypts electronic communications. (This story fronts the LAT business section and was reported yesterday by the online version of the NYT.) Yesterday, the Clinton administration said exporting encryption is okay, while it also gave law enforcement increased power to combat criminal uses of computers, although not as much as had been contemplated in several working drafts of the decision.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study yesterday estimating that tainted food sickens about 76 million Americans and kills 5,000 of them each year. This is double the last authoritative estimate, made in 1994. What with all the attention paid to Floyd (toll: a dozen or so deaths), you’d think that a story about a phenomenon said to have claimed thousands of lives last year would get a lot of front space. Think again. Apparently, the papers don’t deem this food for thought. It’s not on anybody’s front.

What the NYT tipped yesterday, everybody has today about Bill Gates and his wife donating $1 billion towards financing for college and advanced studies for minority students in the sciences, engineering and education. The head of the United Negro College Fund is quoted by the Times saying the gift would increase by 15 to 40 percent the number of minorities who receive doctorates in the targeted fields. The coverage reports that the decision has drawn some fire from opponents complaining that it shuts out qualified white students.

The Wall Street Journal “Washington Wire” reports that, soon after a top Army general was court martialed for having sex with subordinates’ wives, another top Army general was just removed from his big Pentagon job while the Army sees if he did the same thing. Fortunately, at least one brass hat looks a lot better in the paper today. In a NYT op-ed, a retired admiral argues that since it’s in the Pentagon’s direct interest to have access to the improved manpower pool that would come out of better schools, the military should get behind a ten-year program to repair every public school, fully finance Head Start and reduce class size from kindergarten through third grade. How do you come up with the $230 billion this would cost? By canceling all the unnecessary planes, subs and nukes in the defense budget, says the former 3-star.

Where, oh where, are the stories about the presidential and congressional pay raises passed yesterday? Not on anybody’s front. The WP effort is typical: It puts the congressional $4,600 raise (to $141,300) on page 7 and doesn’t say that the president’s salary is being doubled (to $400,000). And the whole thing is buried deep in a story under a headline that doesn’t even mention the raises.