Today's Papers

Foruming a Consensus

The Los Angeles Times leads with an economic wrap-up emphasizing the Federal Reserve’s decision not to cut interest rates while also saying that the economy is worse off than it had thought. USA Today leads with a summary of continuing troubles in the airline industry: United and American Airlines both announced that they will shrink the number of available flights by 9 percent. American also announced that it’s cutting 7,000 jobs. “You’ll see a lot more announcements” like this, said American’s CEO. “The entire industry has too much capacity.” The Washington Post   leads with news that Amtrak abruptly took its high-speed Acela trains out of service Tuesday after finding cracks in the trains’ wheel-units. An Amtrak exec said that “with good karma” the trains could be running again by Monday. As the Post notes, the service interruption comes just as Acela was gaining in popularity and beginning to make some cash for the money-losing company. The New York Times leads with President Bush’s economic summit in Waco, Texas, at which, the Times says, “he offered no new programs or ideas” and had “no dissent and no debate.”

The NYT concludes that the Fed’s move appears to be an attempt to cut a middle ground between dealing with the anemic economy while also trying not to panic folks by further cutting interest rates, which are already at a 40-year low. The Times points out that until recently many had thought the Fed was planning on raising interest rates.

The papers all savage the economic forum. The Wall Street Journal, which tops its world-wide newsbox with the event, calls it “heavily stage-managed” and designed to “spare Bush any kind of discussion of difficult issues.” That’s kind compared to the WP’s news coverage, which notes that the “made-for-television” event was “so meticulously packaged” that administration officials “even had talking points about their talking points.” (“We’re really pushing that this isn’t a PR deal,” explained one official.) Given how vapid the event was, why does the NYT give it three news articles, including the lead? The Post, LAT, and USAT all front photos of the event and stuff the actual coverage.

The NYT goes above the fold with news of Eastern Europe’s continuing huge floods, which have now inundated the historic centers of several cities, especially Prague. Overall, the floods have killed about 90 people.

The LAT and NYT both front word that Iran’s president said the U.S. has misused the Sept. 11 attacks to “create an atmosphere of violence and war.” He also warned the U.S. against attacking Iraq. The Iranian president made the comments during a visit to Afghanistan, the first by an Iranian head of state in 40 years.

The NYT and USAT front word that in newly released videotaped testimony Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged that he let priests who had been accused of, and even admitted to, abuse continue working without informing parishioners about the problems. “I did not, as a matter of policy, in 1984, ‘85, ‘86, ‘87, ‘88, ‘89, ‘90, ‘91, ‘92, ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98, ‘99, 2000, 2001, go to parishes on the occasion of dealing with a priest against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a child had been made,” Cardinal Law testified in the June deposition. “I see now that that should have been done.”

The WP goes above the fold with a check-in on the “secret” negotiations that Palestinian militant groups have been having to try to agree on what the Post terms “ground rules for their uprising against Israel.” The paper says the fact that there need to be negotiations at all is a sign that Yasser Arafat has lost standing and can no longer unilaterally make a deal with Israel. As the Post says, and other papers have reported, the talks were initially meant to pressure groups to stop attacking civilians in Israel proper; they’ve since given up on that goal.

The article’s 18th paragraph, meanwhile, has an interesting tidbit. It’s been widely reported (in the Post, for example) that last month, just before Israel dropped a bomb and killed a top Hamas militant as well as 14 civilians, Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, had been about to announce a unilateral cease-fire. Well, here’s how a Hamas spokesman, quoted in today’s WP, explained his group’s version of the now-dead deal: “We said if Israel will withdraw, if the Palestinians in jail are released, if the refugees can return home, if the Palestinians can have a chance to build their state, then we will have a cease-fire.”

An intriguing, but not fully explicated, piece inside the WSJ says that the Pentagon recently called in a bunch of PR experts to tell them about the dangers of various rogue-type states, beyond just Iraq. Among the states mentioned, said some of the attendees: Syria, Libya, and Sudan. The Pentagon then asked the folks to think about how best to spread the message to the public. 

Let’s get this straight: Leaking is bad, but publishing them is A-OK … An NYT editorial on possible anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill urges everybody to be careful about assuming he’s guilty. In particular, the paper appears to caution the feds against leaks: “The FBI must be careful to protect Hatfill’s rights as it looks into his background.” So, who might the agency be leaking to? The NYT. Specifically, Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who, for instance, noted yesterday that Hatfill has “failed three successive polygraph examinations and canceled plans for another two weeks ago.” Kristof didn’t happen to mention who told him that.