Today's Papers

What’s Up, Glock?

The New York Times leads with the furious street rioting in Taipei, Taiwan, of Nationalist Party members unhappy over Saturday’s election results that brought an end to the party’s 50+ years of presidential power. The lightning rod for all the furor, defeated President Lee Teng-hui, responded, says the paper, to rampant calls for his resignation by agreeing to step down from his post of Nationalist Party chairman a year ahead of schedule. The Los Angeles Times, which fronts the Taiwan developments, goes instead with precautions being undertaken by states’ attorneys general out of a concern that a looming colossal damage award in a Florida class-action case could prompt the tobacco manufacturers to declare bankruptcy, thus stopping the flow of 1998 tobacco settlement money to numerous states. The top non-local story at the Washington Post is one of the first detailed wash-ups of Friday’s mass suicide of members of a Ugandan apocalyptic cult, a story carried inside elsewhere. The Post says initial forensics indicate a death toll of at least 330. Although the cause of death for most appears to have been fire, some corpses were found, says the paper, that were not burned, and are presumed to have been already dead (but the cause is presently unknown) at the time the gas-fueled fireball swept the cult’s main building. USA Today puts Uganda inside and leads with the Senate’s addressing of campaign-finance reform this week, fueled perhaps to new levels of intensity by the return of John McCain. (For some other McCain developments, click here.)

The NYT, in an inside story, also notes the concern states have about tobacco companies declaring bankruptcy, but in addition observes that the companies have in several states spearheaded the passage of bills that, although not specific to tobacco companies, would serve to temporarily shield tobacco industry assets, by limiting the standard financial requirements binding on a defendant company while it appeals a damage award.

The Wall Street Journal front-page news box is topped with a report saying that pistol-maker Glock is likely to follow Smith & Wesson in accepting sweeping restrictions on its business practices in return for protection from government handgun lawsuits. The story notes that the company relies heavily on sales to police departments and hence would be particularly vulnerable to a new strategy of some federal and local law enforcement agencies: preferring to buy guns from companies that sign the sort of agreement Smith & Wesson did. The NYT runs a story inside that says that those endorsing the new buying strategy are HUD and the mayors of Atlanta, Detroit, and Miami-Dade County. The WSJ story says that despite the gun industry’s widespread condemnation of S&W’s move, executives of several companies were privately discussing how they might open lines of communication with the White House.

USAT is alone in fronting Ken Starr successor Robert Ray’s Sunday announcement that his office is considering whether President Clinton should face criminal charges after he leaves office for statements he made in connection with the Monica mess.

The LAT fronts an upcoming protest by gay and lesbian groups against Paramount for its plans for a fall TV show hosted by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who has angered the groups with her radio show descriptions of homosexuality as “deviant” and a “biological error.” Curiously, the generic-to-the-max headline over the story–“TV PROGRAMMING UNDER FIRE FROM NEW QUARTERS”–mentions neither Schlessinger nor gays.

The LAT op-ed page is topped by an essay from President Clinton, who is already in Bangladesh as part of a 10-day tour of South Asia, explaining the importance of South Asia to democracy and world peace. Today’s Papers senses a shrewd media placement by the White House; this comes here, rather than in the NYT or WP, just days after a proposed absorption of the LAT by the Chicago Tribune excited fears that the LAT would become a second-tier paper.

The LAT reports that the 53 of the 55 missing Oscars were found in a dumpster in Los Angeles Sunday night.

The NYT, in reporting on the new trend of newspapers teaming up with TV and Web outlets to expand news coverage, seizes on an example of a business story first “breathlessly” broadcast as an “exclusive” by a WSJ reporter on partner CNBC’s air and then run inside and short at the paper the next day because there really wasn’t anything to it. Today’s Papers wonders how long it will be before the WSJ will note a similar problem with a story a Times reporter does on ABC as part of that new relationship. Or–we may be talking a really long wait here–before the Times does.