Today's Papers

The Whirled World Cop

The Washington Post leads with President Bush’s plan—or lack thereof—toward Mideast peace, expressed in a joint news conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Camp David. The New York Times leads with easing tensions between India and Pakistan. The Los Angeles Times leads with news that the Pentagon will now restrict the dissemination of information surrounding ongoing anti-missile tests.

According to the WP, Bush was asked by reporters whether he agreed with Mubarak’s call for deadlines in the road toward peace, ultimately culminating in the declaration of a Palestinian state. The Bush response most highlighted: “We are not ready to lay down a specific calendar except for the fact that we’ve got to get started quickly, soon, so we can seize the moment.”

The papers split judgment on which part of this comment to emphasize, the NYT going with the active, later clause (“BUSH URGES IMMEDIATE WORK ON PALESTINIAN STATE”), while the WP pushes the vague, opening bit (“BUSH NOT SPECIFIC ON MIDEAST TIMELINE”).

The NYT says that Bush’s remarks “stopped short of the hopes of Mr. Mubarak.” The WP never makes this direct assertion, but does offer this anecdote from Camp David: Asked by a reporter whether a halt to violence was a realistic precondition of political talks, both leaders looked at each other in confusion as to who should answer. “Maybe we’ll give the same answer,” Bush said. The Egyptian leader offered his view first—violence will stop when “there is something to show [Palestinians] that peace is coming.” Bush followed: “People have responsibilities to do everything they can to stop violence,” he said.

Meanwhile, the papers mention that Israeli authorities are reporting that in three separate incidents in the region Saturday, nine people were killed, six Palestinians who were leading attacks and three Israelis on the receiving end of one of those attacks.

The NYT is the only paper to lead—and front—word from India and Pakistan, where Indian officials are reacting positively to news that not only has Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pledged to stop Islamic militant infiltration into Indian Kashmir, but further news that indicates he’s actually following through with his pledge. Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage, recently in the region, is offering muted acknowledgement that tensions in the region seem to be diminishing. The WP’s stuffed Page 22 account of the story plays up Armitage’s words to indicate that India plans to make peaceful gestures of their own in the coming days.

The LAT leads with further secrecy-heightening by the Bush administration, this time on data resulting from missile defense tests. This information, the story points out, is crucial to critics of the program, who have long pointed out the technology’s shortcomings. In the past, the Pentagon has provided pre-test notice and post-test analysis. Now, they’ll only give public notice, vague successful-or-not rulings, and details of the test that don’t go beyond calling decoys used as anything more than “balloons” or “plastic replicas.” The paper, however, fails to note that (according to a Center for Defense Information press release) the House Committee on Government Reform will be holding a special investigations briefing on Tuesday titled “Rushing to Failure in 2004: Is Missile Defense Testing Accurate?”

The WP includes new details into how the Bush administration’s federal government reorganization came to be, including (no surprise) the level of secrecy involved. Every new member recruited to work on the project was lectured by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin on the work’s code-of-silence omerta.  No papers left the room. No Cabinet secretaries were consulted. And as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card Jr., says, “We consulted with agencies and with Congress, but they might not have known we were consulting.”

The WP off-leads a new survey it has conducted with Roman Catholic dioceses. The survey found that 218 priests have been removed from their job this year because of child sexual abuse charges, that 850 have been removed since the 60s, and at least 34 known offenders remain in their jobs currently. The paper says that the survey shows that the scope of the child sex abuse scandal inside the Roman Catholic priesthood is wider than previously disclosed. Still, the survey seems less than scientific: Out of the nation’s 178 mainstream dioceses, only 96 cooperated, the paper filling in the missing data from media accounts.

The NYT fronts word that Japanese Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s top aide Yasuo Fukuda suggested last week that Japan might be ready to review its Constitutional principles not to attain nuclear weapons. Mr. Fukuda later said he didn’t mean to suggest a policy change. Nevertheless, the NYT writes, “remarks like these indicate that a major shift in Japanese security thinking is underway.”

The longstanding journalistic tradition of using an important sports event to illustrate the inadequacies of the home team’s opponent’s hometown continues today in the LAT, albeit with a twist: Instead of going after New Jersey, “official” hometown to the Nets (who the L.A. Lakers are battling in the NBA playoffs), the LAT can’t resist the temptation to go after a bigger mark in the form of New York. Up until now, says the paper, New Yorkers ridiculed the team as “losers,” some mocking the state itself, and most importantly, neglecting the Nets. Now? Well, the dirty word of sports fandom, “frontrunner,” is never mentioned, but … Then again, a sociological piece in the NYT’s “New York Region” section takes up the same topic, ruling that the true signification of past Net Neglect “speaks to the natural regional rivalries between New Jersey and [NYC and Philadelphia] and to the state’s complex—some might say inferior—view of itself when compared with such outsized urban bookends.” Ouch.