All the papers lead with the recommendation by a Justice Department official that Attorney General Janet Reno appoint a special counsel to look into Al Gore’s statements about his 1996 fund raising. (The Los Angeles Times has this as the top non-local story.) All the papers save the New York Times source this information to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who is conducting hearings on the matter. (The NYT sources it to “government officials.”) Reno has not reached a decision, but the leak, everyone notes, puts her in a tight spot. The NYT adds that Gore became angry at the intensity of the fund-raising questions put to him during an April 18 interview with the FBI.
All the papers front the execution of Gary Graham in Texas. Graham’s last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected 5-4, as was his appeal to a Texas clemency board appointed by Gov. George W. Bush. Graham, whom many believe to be convicted unjustly, struggled with his executioners and proclaimed his innocence before he died. Most papers play the story fairly. Here, for example, is the lead paragraph from the NYT story:
With Gov. George W. Bush’s backing and his somberly stated belief that “justice is being done,” the State of Texas tonight executed Gary Graham, who had been convicted for the 1981 murder of a man outside a Houston supermarket.
Texas executed Gary Graham tonight, 19 years after he was implicated in a murder by one witness, a stranger who said she glimpsed his face during a robbery. The state pardons board denied him clemency earlier in the day, sealing Graham’s fate in a life-or-death legal drama that played out against the backdrop of Gov. George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.
Note the potboiler clichés–“sealing Graham’s fate” and “life-or-death legal drama”–as well as the absence of any mention of a victim. The Post story does not even mention that Graham was convicted of murder until the sixth paragraph. It is entirely proper for the Post to list evidence of Graham’s innocence, but it seems only fair to mention his conviction first.
The LAT fronts Independent Counsel Robert Ray’s decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her statements about the 1993 travel office firings. The LAT headline–“Travelgate inquiry suggests signs of lies by first lady; independent counsel says he will not seek to indict her, but says she had role in firings”–stresses Hillary’s deception, but other papers run this story inside and stress Ray’s decision not to prosecute.
The Post fronts, and the LAT reefers, ABC’s decision to hire comedian Dennis Miller as its color commentator on Monday Night Football. The former Saturday Night Live star auditioned two and a half weeks ago and “knocked out” ABC executives with his knowledge of the game.
The NYT relates a Kafkaesque story from Russia. Several high-school classmates in a village in northern Russia wanted to film their graduation. So, naturally, they wrote Vladimir Putin for a handout, asking if he would send them a video camera. When the Kremlin received their letter, it wanted to respond but didn’t have the students’ names (they had signed simply, “the 11th grade”), so it forwarded the letter to the local school board for clarification. The school board, however, noticed that the letter had several grammatical mistakes and was written on a dirty piece of paper. Soon afterward, the students saw their final-exam grades lowered and several academic awards taken back. As a result of the demerits, one girl, who planned to go to medical school, has to attend a dairy college instead.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers testified on Capitol Hill yesterday. Asked to comment on the stock market, Greenspan answered, “I’ve just gotten laryngitis.” Summers promised to answer with “a suitably extensively analytical but yet nondecisive answer to your question.”