Today's Papers

Not So Steely, Dan

The New York Timesleads with CBS firing four execs and journalists after an independent panel concluded that CBS showed “myopic zeal” in its reporting on the likely bogus Bush National Guard docs and offered a “rigid and blind defense” in what amounted to stonewalling of criticism. Dan Rather, who late last year announced his “unrelated” retirement from his evening news gig, didn’t face any formal sanction. He also didn’t anchor last night. USA Today leads with a poll concluding that support for private Social Security accounts is in inverse proportion to age. A bit less than a third of those aged 60-plus support it, while about 55 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds give it a thumbs up even when told such accounts would include benefit cuts. USAT sees that as a problem for the president, since the elderly whup young’uns in the voting booth.

The Washington Postleads with D.C. officials saying that in a break with precedent, the White House is refusing to reimburse the city for inauguration-related costs, leaving D.C. an estimated $12 million in the hole. The administration says the city should just take the funds from a previous federal homeland security grant, money D.C. says is already allocated. A spokesman for the Republican chairman of the reform committee, which oversees D.C., called the White House’s stance “simply not acceptable.” The Los Angeles Times leads with three people killed and about 12 missing after a landslide caused by the latest in a series of storms in southern California.

Though at one point CBS insisted the National Guard documents came from an “unimpeachable” source, yesterday’s report stated that producers didn’t try to track down the guy who they were told originally had the papers. Moreover, while Rather stated in the initial broadcast that experts consulted concluded “the material is authentic.” none of the experts actually concluded that. In other words, Rather’s assertion, as yesterday’s report delicately puts it, was “misleading.” Anyway, CBS said Dan will continue as a correspondent for Wednesday’s 60 Minutes.

The NYT has a nice graphic footnoting some of faux-pas of the original broadcast.

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (online, at least)—and NYT off-leads—with the latest from Iraq, where two GIs were killed and four wounded when a bomb destroyed their Bradley Fighting Vehicle. That’s the second time in a week a roadside bomb has been big enough to defeat armor, a point the Journal emphasizes. Officials also confirmed the killing of Baghdad’s deputy police chief as well as his son. Another seven Iraqi policemen were killed elsewhere, four by a suicide bomber in southern Baghdad and three by a bomb in Mosul.The NYT mentions that the military acknowledged mistakenly shooting and killing a 13-year-old boy in Baquba. 

According to early morning reports, six Iraqi police were killed by a suicide car bomb in Tikrit.

According to the Financial Times, on Monday interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s campaign alliance, in an apparent nod to U.S.-style democracy, “handed out cash to journalists.” They were given 100 bucks each, a seeming Thank You for showing up at a press conference.

As the Post emphasizes, Ukraine announced it’s pulling 1,600 troops from Iraq over the next few months, after eight were killed in an explosion over the weekend.

The Post mentions reports that the Anbar province’s whole electoral commission has resigned. “I don’t know anything about that,” Allawi said. The paper doesn’t offer anything to challenge Allawi (perhaps, ultimately, because it’s not safe to report from Anbar).

The LAT says on Page One that top Gen. John Abizaid and “other senior defense officials” are now eyeing 34 former top Baathists whom they think might be key movers behind the insurgency. Big play aside—”EX-BAATHISTS PLAY CRUCIAL INSURGENT ROLE, U.S. SAYS”—the mostly anono-officials, faced with a lack of solid intel, seem to be brainstorming blind. “We have focused the intelligence system on these 34 guys in the belief that if there is an emerging leadership structure for the former regime element movement that these 34 guys will be holding the reins,” said one “senior U.S. military official.”

Citing “a senior US defence official,” (cute spelling!) the Financial Times says the U.S. is planning on releasing most detainees at Gitmo, at some point. A “significant portion will gradually be transferred or released,” said the official.

A NYT front-page piece says that after Hurricane Mitch and last year’s earthquake in Iran, officials worldwide promised not just relief but long-term aid and never really delivered. Of the $9 billion pledged to rebuild in Central America, “most” (?) of that money has never shown up, and about half of what has been given has come in the form of loans.

Everybody mentions the Supreme Court refusing to hear a challenge to a Florida law banning gays and lesbians from adopting children. Florida is the only state with such a law.

In a Page One interview with the Journal, President Bush said  … not much. On Social Security, he offered, “I have the responsibility to lay out potential solutions.” Asked to lay out those potential solutions, Bush said, “You’ll find out soon.”

The WP fronts what it says are a few dozen House Republicans who are against Bush’s officially unannounced S.S. plans. “Why stir up a political hornet’s nest when there is no urgency?” asked Rep. Rob Simmons, Conn. “When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then.”