Today's Papers

Poll Tacks

The Los Angeles Times leads with its latest poll, which purports to show that the South Carolina Republican primary is now a Bush-McCain tossup. The Washington Post goes with a firefight in the Kosovar city of Mitrovica between NATO peacekeepers and ethnic Albanians that left two French soldiers wounded and an Albanian dead. The New York Times fronts Kosovo but leads with a snapshot of life under term limits in the 18 state legislatures that have them. The paper suggests that the limits have opened up the political ranks ethno-demographically, while transferring more power to inexperienced legislators and experienced lobbyists. USA Today leads with what it calls the biggest wave of social issue shareholder activism since corporations were confronted about their investments in apartheid-era South Africa: upcoming proxy fights at 18 restaurant, food, grocery, and seed companies over genetic engineering. According to the story, though, while these challenges are liable to raise awareness, they aren’t likely to constrain business practices–of 123 social-issue proxy votes mounted in 1999, none passed.

The LAT South Carolina poll finds George W. Bush prevailing among Republicans and John McCain with the upper hand among Democrats and independents. And the poll finds that the Democrat-independent pool makes up nearly half the likely primary voters. The WP inside reports that McCain has announced he would not hold a campaign rally at Bob Jones University, a conservative institution that bans interracial dating. The paper adds that Bush defends his appearance at the school two weeks ago, calling it a campaign stop and not an endorsement of the university’s policies. And the paper quotes him saying, “How could I go into a university like that and subscribe to those views when my little brother, the great governor of Florida, married a girl from Mexico?”

Political news you can’t use. The Wall Street Journal reports that although Al Gore sometimes uses the middle name Arnold, legally his middle initial–A–doesn’t stand for anything. The paper got to the bottom of this by making “repeated requests” for a copy of Gore’s birth certificate after being dissatisfied with his answer to a fifth-grader’s question.

The Kosovo coverage in the WP and NYT makes it clear that the French troops, recently criticized for not responding forcefully enough to shooting in Mitrovica, reacted very aggressively this time. The papers also note that the French, Italian, and British troops in the sector were not accidentally caught up in a Serb-Albanian crossfire but were intentional targets of the Albanians, an ominous change.

The LAT uses a tiny reefer for an Alaska Airlines story that everybody has inside: In 1997 the very part on the crash plane believed responsible–a jackscrew in the tail–was found to be worn but was not replaced.

Everybody fronts the death late Saturday of Charles M. Schulz from cancer, just hours before his last Peanuts hit the newsstands. The NYT obit observes that no adult ever appeared in the strip.

The LAT’s front-page “Column One” addresses a Hollywood taboo–being seriously ill. The story takes the recent major medical setbacks of Steven Spielberg, Harvey Weinstein, and David Letterman as examples of how in a business where youth is a major asset and weakness tends to be exploited immediately, elaborate PR mechanisms are used to minimize and hide unwellness. The story quotes actress Kathleen Turner saying that she didn’t try to refute false rumors she had a drinking problem because the truth–that she has arthritis–would be worse for her career.

Sunday’s NYT front page carries a disturbing story based on newly unredacted CIA files suggesting that U.S. intelligence and military personnel helped sic the Chilean military on two American leftists at the time it was conducting its coup against Salvador Allende. Neither American was ever seen alive again after the coup. It’s an important story and Today’s Papers suggests a follow-up: Press Henry Kissinger about what he knew about all this. The Times story doesn’t get to Kissinger until the last few paragraphs and lets him claim ignorance of the particulars of the situation and of the now-released message traffic. Very implausible.

The Sunday Times also carries a pure paradigm of the principle that if you want to express an editorial opinion in a news story, say it with pictures. On the Page 26-27 spread of the national edition, there are facing pictures of Messrs. Bush and McCain. Can you guess who the paper (or at least the photo editor) favors? On the right side, you have McCain, jut-jawed and serene in his power, backdropped by the stars of an American flag. On the left side, you have Bush with an expression suggesting not just a past including electro-shock therapy, but also a present. This is not cricket.