Today's Papers

A Gravano Error?

USA Today

leads with yesterday’s stock market–the Dow having the lowest close in nearly four months while the Nasdaq finished at a record high. The Washington Post goes with the United States’ low-profile consideration of moving to ease the U.N. import sanctions on Iraq that have been in place since the Gulf War. The Los Angeles Times goes with the decision by California’s air quality regulators to ban all current-style diesel buses from the state’s roads by 2007, an unprecedented measure but one that could lead to a reduction in lung cancer and asthma. The top national story at the New York Times is how, after spending $60 million–mostly in a feverish attempt to put John McCain away in the South Carolina and Michigan primaries–George W. Bush’s campaign now has only approximately a $1 million edge over McCain.

The USAT lead commits many of the trademark sins of one-day market move reportage. The headline uses overheated action words: “NASDAQ ROARS AS DOW DIVES,” and indicators that would give a context to the market movement are missing: The story talks of the number of points lost yesterday, but not of the percentage attrition this represents nor of how the day ranked relative to the biggest one-day losses by percentage. The reader is told that the Dow is 14 percent below its high but is not told how long this took.

The LAT lead reports that the state’s 17,000 school buses are exempt from the new diesel pollution regs on cost grounds, but no figures are given that would allow the reader to compare this expense with, say, the remedial costs associated with respiratory disease.

That NYT story about the Republican presidential bucks race quotes some Bush campaign money men expressing particular disgruntlement over the decision to spend $2 million in the primary in Arizona, McCain’s home state. According to figures supplied in the story, the delegates Bush has won thus far have come at a cost or more than $1 million apiece. The headline over the story in the late metro edition, “A DAUNTING EDGE IN CAMPAIGN CASH NARROWS FOR BUSH” is not exactly a model of clarity. Especially when compared to the online edition’s effort: “BUSH SPENDS AWAY HIS FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE.”

The LAT front points to a speech yesterday by Al Gore that probably signals an important attack the vice president will make should he run against Bush in the fall: Texas has tremendous pollution problems that appear not to have gotten better under Bush’s leadership. The LAT says flatly that pollution-wise, Houston’s oil refineries are 10-20 years behind those in the Los Angeles area. The story doesn’t mention a canonical example of how effective this sort of line can be against an opponent: George Bush’s 1988 ad focusing on the pollution problems of Boston Harbor during Michael Dukakis’ governorship.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature reports that the 2000 presidential race has produced a sharp rise in voter turnout. In New Hampshire, the turnout was up a third. And in both South Carolina and in Michigan there were twice as many voters as four years ago.

The NYT and LAT front the arrest yesterday on drug dealing charges in Phoenix, Ariz., of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, whose turncoat testimony led to the conviction of John Gotti. The WP and USAT run it inside. Gravano was arrested for allegedly financing and leading a ring that supplied the drug Ecstasy. Also arrested were members of his immediate family. Many of the street-level members of the ring are members of a white supremacist organization.

Back to that NYT story about the Bush campaign for a beat: Why doesn’t the story wonder if Bush’s money problems don’t just merely reflect on his ability to run a campaign on a budget but also reflect on his ability to run a government on a budget?