The Week/the Spin

Dan the Man 

Stephen King’s next book will not be printed on paper. His 65-page story, Riding the Bullet (read an excerpt here), will be sold by Simon & Schuster for $2.50 on eBook and via computer download beginning Monday at midnight. Simon & Schuster’s spin: We couldn’t publish a 65-page work any other way. Cyberwags’ spin: In 20 years, Mr. Middleman, you won’t be publishing anything.

Dan Marino is retiring from the National Football League. The NFL’s all-time leading passer is expected to end his career Monday. He holds lifetime records for yards passed, touchdowns, completions, attempts, and 300-yard games, and holds single-season records for touchdowns and yards passed. Recently he has endured injury-plagued, mediocre seasons in pursuit of an elusive Super Bowl ring. Fans’ and commentators’ spin: Smart move, Dan. Don’t degrade yourself for a championship that will never happen.

B ill Bradley and John McCain withdrew from the presidential race. Bradley gave his ” full support” to Al Gore but declined to use the word “endorse.” He repeated his charges that Gore is a dirty campaigner and is tainted by the campaign-finance scandal. McCain gave his ” best wishes” to George W. Bush but withheld his endorsement and challenged the GOP to take up his “reform” mantle. McCain-smitten media’s spin: A ” living statue of an American hero” has been stymied by the forces of darkness. Pundits’ speculation: McCain will launch a third party! No, he’ll be Bush’s vice presidential nominee! Meanwhile, Gore challenged Bush to debate twice a week and swear off soft money and 30- and 60-second ads. (For Ballot Box’s comparison of the two withdrawals, click here. To read a Slate“Frame Game” on Gore’s debate challenge, click here.)

President Clinton introduced a bill to grant China permanent “most favored nation” status. The White House plans to lobby aggressively for the legislation, which would ensure U.S. access to Chinese markets once China joins the World Trade Orgazination. A House vote—promised by Memorial Day—will be close. Clinton’s spin: Democracy in China will arrive via modem and cell phone, not isolation. House Democrats’ spin: Why should we reward China for bullying Taiwan and upbraiding us? AFL-CIO’s spin: You’re against this bill, right, Al? … Al?

The Wall Street Journal is trying to scoop the Academy Awards. The academy’s president warned its 4,200 voting members not to cooperate with phone calls from the paper, which is trying to predict the results of the March 26 gala. The Journal’s faux-naive spin: We’re just practicing our First Amendment rights. We poll every other type of election, why not this one? Academy’s spin: The awards are about art, not politics. Media’s retort: Oh, really?

Oil prices hit a 10-year high. The cost of a barrel of crude reached $30 for the first time since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 (it was $11 a year ago). The Energy Department predicted that a gallon of gas will cost more than $1.50 this summer—and higher in environmentally conscious states like California. (A year ago gas averaged 96 cents a gallon.) Analysts’ spin: This could bridle the miracle e-economy. However, increased energy efficiency and less reliance on manufacturing preclude a serious recession. President Clinton’s spin: If OPEC doesn’t raise production, it will shrink global demand and lose money. Gore’s spin: You go, Mr. President.

M ichigan’s boy-murderer will be expelled from school. The first-grader, who shot a classmate after a playground scuffle, is too young to be prosecuted. Prosecutor’s spin: We’ll jail the parents. Gun-control lobby’s response: His father already is in jail. President Clinton’s spin: This is why we need safety locks on handguns. NRA’s response: What we need are adequate jail terms for parents who allow guns to be misused. Gun lobby’s response to the NRA: His father already … never mind.

A jury convicted three New York City policemen of covering up the torture of Abner Louima. One of the officers had already been convicted of participating in the 1997 assault. Louima spent two months in the hospital after being sodomized with a broken broomstick. The conspiracy conviction had been considered hard to prove. Defense attorneys’ spin: The jury was influenced by the political fallout from the Amadou Diallo verdict. Defendant Charles Schwarz’s spin: #@?*!! Defendant Thomas Bruder’s spin: “I’ll be fine, nobody’s stronger than me. I’m stronger than anyone in this building.”

Bob Jones University dropped its ban on interracial dating. President Bob Jones III said his announcement on CNN’s Larry King Live came at the request of God. To avoid the appearance of a pecuniary motive, the university will not ask the IRS to reinstate its tax-exempt status, which it lost in 1983 because of the policy. George W. Bush’s spin: I’ve said all along the policy is wrong. The media’s spin: Well, not exactly … Bob Jones’ spin: Everybody knows that miscegenation leads to one-world government. But the policy was overshadowing our other important work—like converting Catholics to Protestantism. (To read Chatterbox’s report on the reversal, click here.)