Today's Papers

Stock Footage in Mouthage

USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and New York Times lead with yesterday’s stock uptick. And the Wall Street Journal puts it at the top of its front-page biz news box. The Washington Post puts that below the fold and goes instead with the last day of global finance meetings in Washington, D.C.

The essential indeterminacy of a one-day market move is lurking just below the papers’ veneer of comprehensive explanation. Take the headlines: USAT sees “BATTERED MARKETS SURGE,” while the LAT says “MARKETS REGAIN SOME GROUND, BUT WORRIES REMAIN.” And while USAT claims that one of the forces behind yesterday’s rally was strong earnings reports from the likes of Ford and Merrill Lynch, the NYT observes that those reports came out before the U.S. markets opened, whereas they didn’t surge until the afternoon.

The stock market coverage is riddled with the usual blather from experts. The LAT has a bank’s “chief investment strategist” explaining that “everybody was expecting a crash.” Well, clearly, not everybody. The paper quotes another honcho fearlessly saying the market is “beginning a recovery” although it is “not out of the woods yet.” The NYT manages to ascribe great curative powers to the ubiquitous Abby Joseph Cohen’s tautological statement yesterday that “the extent that technology stocks have gone down in price suggests that they are a better value.” The LAT introduces a new technical indicator: brokerage house telephone volume. In case you’re charting, the paper wants you to know calls were up at Janus Funds 15 percent on Friday.

The WP lead is entirely about the street protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund–the news is they fizzled in the sense that they didn’t stop the organization’s meetings nor do much physical damage–rather than anything substantive about the meetings. Both the NYT and LAT front the World Bank’s pledge yesterday to arrange more loans to help developing countries with AIDs prevention and treatment, but most of their stories are also about the Spy vs. Spy cartoon played out in the streets.

Both USAT and the LAT front the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling yesterday (resulting in the overturning of a drug smuggling conviction) that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches entails that police may not (in the absence of probable cause) squeeze luggage without opening it as a means of checking its contents. Both the LAT and NYT note that this decision, which addressed a squeeze search of luggage on a bus, did not necessarily apply to air travel. And both stories suggest that the expectation of privacy–the key element of determining whether a search is unreasonable or not–varies with the conventions governing the mode of travel the luggage is subject to. But neither dwells on the deeper implication here: Since authorities can simply change conventions governing a mode of travel, how can any mode of conveyance of possessions be ultimately safe from lawful search?

The papers go inside with President Clinton’s travel yesterday to a poor pocket of the Silicon Valley and to an Indian reservation to dramatize the need to continue to close the digital divide. The WP reports that at one point an impromptu question-and-answer session touched on political controversy when a kid asked Clinton if he used … e-mail.

Lots of Newt sightings in the papers today. The WP has the newly detached Gingrich spotted in a Tiffany’s with his girlfriend, apparently shopping for a wedding ring. And a separate Post article says he thinks Al Gore’s staff is more professional than George W. Bush’s, that Hillary stands a fair chance of beating Rudy Giuliani, and that if Gore loses, she might well run for president in 2004. The NYT’s Gail Collins also has this last bit.

The WSJ front goes long with a blow-by-blow on how John Rocker was able to keep his job in Atlanta. Key, it turns out, was some expert crisis management by former U.N. ambassador and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, who was sympathetic to Rocker because of the bad treatment Rocker had previously gotten from New York fans and because he thought Rocker, who had at times lived with non-white ballplayers, “was more integrated in his lifestyle than either the press, the league management or the blacks who were criticizing him.”

A letter writer to the WP observes that if nothing else, the Elián González episode has shown us where Fidel Castro’s Washington, D.C., representative lives. And it’s not a working-class neighborhood, but rather, says the correspondent, “the exclusive Kenwood section of Bethesda, close to Kenwood Country Club and a few blocks from where a home recently sold for $820,000.” (For more on the neighborhood, from Slate’s William Saletan, who also lives there, click here.)