leads with the AFL-CIO’s scheduled debate today at its national convention over the union’s possible presidential endorsement of either Al Gore or Bill Bradley. Although the union is meeting in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times front has only a postage-stamp-sized reefer to its Page B1 AFL-CIO story, choosing instead to follow up on its Saturday lead, the Mexican flood/mud aftermath, a story nobody else fronts. The LAT’s emphasis today is on the spreading unrest among some 200,000 displaced survivors demanding faster distribution of food and water. The New York Times, which fronts the AFL-CIO, leads with the Clinton administration’s strong opposition to European Union thoughts of supplying heating oil and other aid to Yugoslavia. The U.S. concern, says the Times, is that such supplies might shore up Slobodan Milosevic’s political position by alleviating public discontent. The line the U.S. has drawn is relieving ordinary Serbians’ suffering, yes, rebuilding Serbia, no. The Washington Post, often thought to be hung up on the federal government, homebodies in a big way, with three of its six front-pagers twanging local instead. The paper stuffs the AFL-CIO convention and leads with the resignation of the head of a Virginia county government.
USAT’s AFL-CIO coverage lends plenty of credence to the idea that the organization is genuinely undecided about Gore vs. Bradley. In the third paragraph it quotes Gore saying he’s uncertain of the outcome and waits until the eighth to quote a union official who thinks Gore has “a good chance.” By contrast, both the NYT and WP say Gore is “assured” of the union’s endorsement. The Wall Street Journal is a bit less emphatic, saying that pro-Gore union leaders now say they have the votes.
Both USAT and the Post include an observation that impugns the choice’s significance: If the union does indeed make a choice now, it will be its earliest endorsement since going for Walter Mondale. (The WP says that was in 1983, USAT says 1984.)
The NYT and USAT front the decision by Colt Manufacturing, a leading maker of handguns (and, the NYT points out in a nice historical touch, the inventor of the six-shooter), to abandon much of its retail handgun business. The company will still sell to law enforcement and the military but will basically stop selling weapons to civilians who aren’t collectors of old-style commemorative guns. Apparently, the company’s motivation is to avoid legal liability and money damages possibly arising from verdicts in any of the lawsuits currently being brought by various local governments. The Colt shift was discovered by Newsweek, a fact mentioned in the second paragraph at USAT, in the eighth at the Times.
An inside NYT piece by Felicity Barringer makes an observation that raises deep questions about the media’s true values: In the week following the simultaneous breaking of well-researched allegations of a U.S. massacre of civilians during the Korean war and of the Jesse Ventura Playboy interview, less and less was said about the former and more and more was said about the latter.
The WSJ reports that the British government has instructed physicians in the National Health Service not to prescribe the new anti-flu drug from Glaxo. Given that this is what the headline says, the reader might well conclude that the Brits believe that the drug is dangerous. That’s why it’s a mistake for the Journal to wait until the fifth paragraph to mention that the U.K. government merely thinks that the drug isn’t cost-effective.
The WP gives op-ed space to Pat Buchanan so that he can continue to develop his foreign policy position on World War II. Der Patzer tries to firm up his view that before Germany’s declaration of war on the U.S., it posed no strategic threat to this country, today including an appeal to … Hitler, who said, “Everything I undertake is directed against Russia. If the West is too stupid and too blind to comprehend that, I will be forced to come to an understanding with the Russians, to smash the West and then after its defeat, to turn against the Soviet Union.” Gee, wonder why Buchanan didn’t quote the clearest thing Hitler ever said about his plans?–“The Sudetenland is the last territorial claim I have to make in Europe.”
The LAT fronts a report about tighter rules regarding personal uses of office computers and how companies are increasingly using sophisticated tracking technology to enforce them. Examples in the story of concerns where the new technology and the worker resentment it breeds are in evidence: AT&T, Pacific Bell, the FCC, Delta Airlines, Exxon, the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Lockheed Martin. There’s one company that almost surely is a hotbed for this issue that the story makes no mention of: the LAT.