Today's Papers

Bush Comes to Shove

Everybody leads with President Bush’s testy response to allies’ pleas to hold off on attacking Iraq. “Surely our friends have learned lessons from the past. You know, how much time do we need to see clearly that he’s not disarming?” Bush said. “This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I’m not interested in watching it.”

Meanwhile, as the Los Angeles Times emphasizes, France, which on Monday threatened to veto any war resolution, said it will also try to organize its continental buddies to go against the White House. “It is important that Europe speaks on this issue with a single voice,” said France’s foreign minister.

As everybody mentions, the White House released a report detailing “the lies that Iraq has used to promote its propaganda and disinformation.” The Washington Post points out that most of the allegations date from 1990 and 1991.

The Post off-leads a poll  it conducted with ABC News: While 57 percent of respondents said they’re down with taking Saddam down, seven out of 10 said that inspectors should be given more time to poke around. Bush’s numbers also continued to dip: 59 percent of respondents gave him a thumbs-up, down from 66 percent in December. (Last week’s USA Today had similar numbers.) Fifty-three percent also said they’re not into Bush’s performance on the economy.

The WP and NYT both have lead editorials on Iraq. The Times concludes, “It is too soon to give up on all possibility of a peaceful solution.” The Post says that’s sissy, “President Bush is right. The United States cannot afford to allow the French script to be replayed.”

The New York Times’ off-lead says that “after an onslaught of lobbying,” the SEC is on the verge of watering down a series of rules that last year’s accounting reform bill outlined. Citing unnamed “government officials” (who, presumably, aren’t keen about the cuts), the Times says that SEC “staff” has endorsed the regulatory retreat and that the agency’s commissioners plan to vote on it today. Among the potentially nixed proposals is a plan to bar accountants from auditing the same tax shelters they created.

The Post fronts and the NYT stuffs (with a no-byline, 200-word story) news that activist Al Sharpton announced his bid for the presidency yesterday, becoming the sixth Democrat to hop in. Everybody mentions Sharpton’s connection to the case of Tawana Brawley—a black teenage girl who claimed, falsely as it turns out, that she was kidnapped and raped by a group of white men. The Post, unlike most of the other coverage, doesn’t just make vague references to Sharpton’s involvement in the case; it explains that he was convicted of defaming the case’s prosecutor and that he still says there’s no need to apologize.

A front-page NYT piece says the government is deploying electronic sniffers around the country that, theoretically, will result in the detection and identification of bio-warfare germs within 24 hours of their release. The system won’t be able to pick up on indoor attacks.

A piece reefered in the LAT says a meta-study has concluded that about a quarter of all bio-medical studies have corporate underwriting and that the dough is influencing the results. As evidence for that latter point, the LAT says that the study found that “industry-sponsored research is 3.6 times more likely to produce favorable results to the company that helped pay for it.” That’s confusing; and what’s the control?

The LAT, alone among the papers, fronts news that a 7.8 quake hit central Mexico yesterday evening. At least 19 people were killed.

The Wall Street Journal and LAT both give prominent play to Israel’s demolition about of 60 West Bank shops that Israel said were built illegally, the biggest such demolition in years. Also yesterday, Hezbollah forces in Lebanon shelled Israeli positions. That hadn’t happened in months.

The Post’s correction page notes that, despite what you may have read in yesterday’s papers, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer did not say that Iraq “has complied fully” with U.N. resolutions; he said Iraq has “to comply fully” with the resolutions. The NYT has the same correction, and, bonus points, explains what happened: Fischer really said, “Iraq has fully—to comply fully—with all relevant resolutions.” A transcriber made a valiant, ill-fated effort to clean it up.