Today's Papers

Jefferson: Declaration of Dependents

USA Today

leads with last night’s Democratic and Republican New Hampshire debates, which it describes as “personal and combative.” The debates also top the Wall Street Journal front-page news box. The New York Times goes with an exclusive: the belief of American investigators that there are some people (one of whom is now in custody in Senegal) who are connected to both Osama Bin Laden and to the Algerians arrested late last year apparently in the midst of carrying out one or more bomb plots against targets in the U.S. The Washington Post leads with the Labor Department’s definitive position on the issue of what sort of home work activities must comply with federal workplace health and safety regulations, a position taken after the Labor Department first said all such activities were covered and then later said in effect, never mind. The new rule: Ordinary white-collar work in a household is not covered, but hazardous manufacturing work there is. The Los Angeles Times leads with the latest in the city’s mushrooming police scandal: The LAPD chief’s call for the quick dismissal of the cases against 99 people in which the arrests were based on officers’ documented illegal activity, ranging from lying to unprovoked shooting. At least three of those people are in jail right now.

USAT’s lead includes new New Hampshire polling that finds John McCain leading George W. Bush 43 percent to 36 percent and Al Gore ahead of Bill Bradley 53 percent to 44 percent. The story states the margin of error (4 percent for the Republicans, 5 percent for the Democrats) but forgets to tell the size of the sample. The NYT reports that some pollsters have gotten together to form a Polling Review Board that will monitor and discuss the flood of political polls expected during the upcoming election season. One focus of the organization will be scrutinizing and debunking online polls.

The headlines over the papers’ debate stories suggest that the press can detect sub-atomic levels of emotion. “Two Democrats Fire Broadsides in Testy Debate,” says the NYT. “Sparks Fly in Two Candidate Debates,” says the LAT.

The WP, NYT, and LAT front yesterday’s meeting in Miami of Elián González with his Cuban grandmothers. USAT puts it inside. But all the papers front a picture of the boy. The NYT’s pic shows him smiling. The picture used by both USAT and the Post has him looking positively exuberant, making what looks like a peace sign with each hand, although, let’s face it, at that age, it’s probably bunny ears. The LAT, on the other hand, runs a shot of him looking glum.

USAT fronts, and the other papers stuff, the finding announced yesterday by the foundation that maintains Thomas Jefferson’s home and the preponderance of documentary materials relating to him, that, yes, he almost surely fathered one of his slave Sally Hemings’ six children and probably all six of them.

The WP reports that the Department of Energy has admitted that nearly 15,000 pages about U.S. nuclear weapon designs in the 1950s and ‘60s were mistakenly declassified and that on at least one occasion were accessed by an outside researcher. But the outside researcher was not apparently a Post reporter–the story doesn’t say when the papers were released nor who got a look at them.

A letter to the NYT observes that Bill Bradley is demonstrating good sense in at least one concrete area: He’s been wearing a hat while campaigning in New Hampshire, while, judging by newspaper pictures, Al Gore and George W. Bush seem to go hatless there. Today’s Papers has a suggestion for pool reporters scratching their heads about what to ask the front-runners: “Sir, you say you’re willing to do the right thing even if it makes you look bad in the media. How can we believe that when, even in freezing weather, to look good you won’t wear a hat?”