Today's Papers

Hillary to New York: Drop Everything

Both USA Today and the Washington Post lead with Hillary Clinton’s announcement yesterday that she will definitely run for the U.S. Senate in New York against likely opponent Rudy Giuliani. Somewhat surprisingly, the New York Times, although fronting the announcement, does not lead with it, opting instead for President Clinton’s visit to Kosovo, which included get-togethers with Kosovar Albanians (he urged them to forgive the Serbs) and with American peacekeeping soldiers (he reminded them that the U.S. military is an excellent example of how different ethnic groups can get along). The tops of both Times feature pictures of Clinton among the troops. The WP runs one a bit lower. The NYT and Post versions look like a campaign meet-and-greet, but the Los Angeles Times shot evokes the more intimate feeling of a leader with his troops: It’s good to be the commander in chief. The LAT can only find a below-the-fold reefer for Hillary and goes with a story nobody else fronts–Tuesday’s U.N. report on the worldwide AIDS situation. Among the grim numbers, says the paper: By the end of the year, the cumulative toll from the disease will be 16.3 million deaths and 50 million HIV infections. More than 70 percent of all HIV cases live in sub-Saharan Africa, which contains but 10 percent of the world’s population. But, the paper continues, the region where the disease is growing the fastest is the former Soviet Union, largely due to the rise there of intravenous drug use.

According to the coverage, Hillary Clinton’s announcement came at a New York City meeting of a teacher’s union. The WP says it had the feel of an orchestrated performance, while the NYT goes even further, saying that union sources said it was “scripted.” Clinton said that she would move into her new Westchester County house as soon as the Secret Service said she could and that after the first of the year, she would scale back her activities as first lady. The NYT observes this will mark the first time in 80 years that a president has lived in Washington sans first lady. But USAT is alone in commenting up high on an even more remarkable fact: For the first time ever, a president’s wife is running for office.

The main coverage takes a what-elephant-in-the-parlor? approach to the domestic implications of the first lady’s announcement. Although it is reported that she said yesterday she had not told her husband or daughter of her decision, nobody notes how this contrasts with the nearly universal tradition of a candidate announcing with spouse and offspring in tow. And there is no speculation in the leads about whether the coming physical distance between the two Clintons represents a psychical one as well. (An NYT inside story, does briefly indulge, however.) This silence, which might even be mistaken for good taste, can’t possibly last.

The LAT is alone in fronting the filing yesterday of class-action lawsuits against five of the nation’s largest HMOs. The suits, the paper reports, were filed by one of the leading attorneys in the cases against the tobacco companies that led to that industry’s lavish financial settlement with many states. The plaintiffs claim that the health plans have violated their obligations to members, and even allege that they’ve engaged in racketeering.

The WP and Wall Street Journal report that a JAMA study published Tuesday suggests that despite widespread fears among women to the contrary, the frequency of sexual activity and the pleasure derived from it remain the same or even increase after having a hysterectomy.

A front page WSJ feature looks past such arcana as pricing structures and inventory management to find a simpler reason why discount retailers consistently outperform traditional department stores: The former, but not the latter, provide customers with shopping carts. Very simply, carts–no, duh!--enable shoppers to buy more stuff.

The WP’s “Reliable Source” has great fun reporting that yesterday former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry was on jury duty in that city. But the column never stops to wonder how an ex-convict like Barry could serve on a jury. Indeed, although the column points out that the FBI has targeted Barry in the past, it never mentions that he’s done time.