The Wall Street Journal tops its Business and Finance newsbox with—and everyone else fronts—the resignation of Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn. Dunn stepped down in the face of growing furor over revelations that she oversaw a potentially illegal probe into leaks from the company’s board. Chief Executive Mark Hurd announced her departure, apologized to those whose privacy had been invaded, and acknowledged the “very disturbing” methods used in the probe. The New York Timesleads with what both the Washington Post and the LA Times devote their top non-local stories to: a federally commissioned report by the Institute of Medicine, which found egregious problems in the way the federal government approves and regulates drugs. The study takes shots at the Food and Drug Administration, Congress, and the pharmaceutical industry, and proposes a sweeping set of reforms.
In what the WSJ calls his “first extensive public remarks” since the leak story broke, H-P’s Hurd both took responsibility for and downplayed his own role in the now notorious probe—in which, among other things, investigators used false pretenses to obtain phone records. Citing anonymous sources, the papers also note that two other executives are leaving the company because of the controversy. But most of the papers go on to say that Hurd, who took no questions, still left unaddressed exactly how the leak investigation managed to spin so monstrously out of control. And the Journal (subscription only) emphasizes that while Hurd criticized the probe in action, he continued to support it in principle. “The intent of the investigation was absolutely proper and appropriate,” he said.
All the papers give big play to the bombshell report on federal drug regulations, which the FDA apparently requested. It might regret doing so, since, in the words of the NYT,the study describes the agency as “rife with internal squabbles and hobbled by underfinancing, poor management and outdated regulations.” All the papers mention the report’s laundry list of fixers, including a moratorium on consumer advertising, mandatory five-year drug re-evaluations, a government-run database for clinical trials, and a fixed term for the FDA commissioner. Most note that the report’s concern is largely with newly released drugs, and all the papers—except the Post—mention a major reason why that’s the case: Vioxx, the arthritis medication that Merck pulled after studies found it doubled the risk of heart attack.
Everybody mentions the giant Hezbollah rally that took place in Beirut. The NYT—which has an astonishing picture of the rally on its front page—describes the event as an exercise in idol-worship: hundreds of thousands of eager Lebanese, waiting to see Hassan Nasrallah in person. (It was, according to the paper, Nasrallah’s first public appearance since the war began.) But while the Times saves its caveats for the final paragraph, the Post article—a long front-pager by Anthony Shadid—strikes the balance earlier. “Some saw Nasrallah’s appearance as a way to reinforce the notion of victory to his supporters, who bore the brunt of a 33-day conflict,” writes Shadid. “Others saw it, more darkly, as a first step toward delivering the state to Hezbollah.” The Journal looks into Israel’s response, and everyone is sure to mention the number of rockets that Nasrallah has left: 20,000.
(The NYT says they’re “missiles,” but Slate can inform them of the difference.)
The Post goes inside with a follow-up on this week’s detainee treatment compromise, which ended a period of precarious in-fighting between the president and a group of “dissident” Republican senators, led by John McCain. The new bill includes a list of mistreatments that would trigger criminal action but leaves the president with a “dominant” role in determining what treatments are permitted. Surprise, surprise—GOP hardliners are happy with it. “We’re going to get this thing across the finish line,” said one prominent Republican congressman. The NYT fronts its analysis and plays up the contradictions within the bill: “It would impose new legal standards that it forbids the courts to enforce.”
The Los Angeles Times has a devastating front-page feature on the unreliable Iraqi Army: Of the 4,000 troops designated more than a month ago to help secure Baghdad, only 1,000 of them have actually shown up.
The papers also cover yesterday’s meeting between President Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, which followed somewhat awkwardly on the heels of Musharraf’s claim—made on 60 Minutes and apparently repeated in his forthcoming memoir—that, following 9/11, the Bush administration threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age.” Unfortunately, we can’t get all the details: Wait for the book, says the Pakistani president. Also up for discussion was the deal Musharraf made with tribal leaders in Pakistan’s lawless border region.
Musharraf wasn’t the only one creating book news: Both the NYT and the LAT run stories on the hegemonic success Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival, which shot to No. 1 on Amazon’s sales rankings two days after Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez held it up during his speech to the U.N. The NYT also has a brief excerpt from the book.
Spinach continues to make headlines, although the papers seem unsure of just how to cook it. The LAT breathes a journalistic sigh of relief, reporting that the FDA lifted its blanket warning on the vegetable after it found that the tainted spinach came exclusively from three California counties. (Spinach-lovers: Don’t break out the champagne yet—the counties account for 60 percent of the nation’s spinach production.) The Post, meanwhile, sounds a front-page alarm on the local vegetative threat, identifying three cases of E. coli in Maryland—as well as one possible death. So far, there have been 166 cases of illness in 25 states; Wisconsin leads the pack with 42 cases.
Attack of the Mild Animals: Just when things look bleak, the LA Times has a heart-warming front-page feature on “Babydolls”—or miniature sheep—which are used to weed grapevines. The sheep grow to about 24 inches, which isn’t tall enough to reach the grapes. Do not miss the predictably adorable picture.