Today's Papers

Weaker Speaker?

The New York Timesand the Washington Postlead—and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox—with the latest Mark Foley scandal-related news. The Post leads with the House ethics committee’s announcement that they are launching an investigation into Congress’ handling of early warnings of Foley’s relationship with teen pages. The NYT leads with a close look at Speaker Dennis Hastert and his pledge to ride out the storm and remain in his position. USA Today leads with new USA Today/Gallup polls from six battleground states indicating that Democrats have a very good chance of gaining the majority in the Senate. The Los Angeles Times leads with results of a study released Thursday revealing that a 1959 nuclear accident at a California plant may have caused between 260 and 1,800 cases of cancer over the past several decades.

At a Thursday press conference, Hastert admitted “the buck stops here,” but said he won’t step down because, “I haven’t done anything wrong, obviously.” He suggested that Democrats who knew about the vulgar instant messages had leaked them in the name of partisanship.

More flames to the Foley fire Thursday: The Associated Press reports that a 26-year-old Atlanta man claims that Foley sent him sexually suggestive instant messages shortly after his nine-month stint as a page nine years ago. And ABC News reports that they have heard from three more former pages who claim Foley made “sexual approaches” toward them over the Internet.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group that first gave the FBI suspicious e-mails from Mark Foley, said that the FBI and Justice Department are making false accusations against the group to cover up their own inaction on the case. The group says it gave the Foley e-mails to the FBI in July and criticizes the agency for not pursuing the matter more aggressively. The FBI claims that CREW didn’t fully cooperate and there wasn’t enough evidence to mount a full investigation.

The LAT fronts the forced resignation of its publisher, Jeffrey Johnson. Called a “folk hero” by Howard Kurtz at the Post, Johnson had refused to make cuts at the paper after his bosses at the Tribune Co. demanded belt-tightening to boost profits. He was immediately replaced by David Hiller, the publisher of the company’s hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune. Kurtz has some good reaction from the demoralized staff at the LAT. “The staff has no confidence in Tribune management to do what’s right for journalism or the newspaper—none whatsoever…They do not have any friends in this newsroom. They’d be booed out of the building,” William Rempel, the Times deputy sports editor, told Kurtz.

The papers report that while in Baghdad Thursday, Condoleezza Rice said that Iraqis are “making progress.” That’s in stark contrast to the view of Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, who just returned from a trip to Iraq this week. He said that parts of the country have taken “steps backward,” according to the WP. Violence continued to rage through the country Thursday, with 35 people found dead in separate incidents. On Thursday night, a Kurdish member of parliament was found assassinated.

The papers all mention the burial on Thursday of four of the five victims in the horrific Amish schoolhouse attack. The NYT, LAT, WP and USAT all have stark art of the somber day on their front pages.

Former Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn was booked on four counts of fraud and conspiracy yesterday, and the WSJ takes a look at her testimony in last week’s hearing in Washington that may make her defense at trial difficult. (Others linked to the HP scandal took the Fifth and did not testify under oath at the hearing.)

Lost in Translation …  An Editors’ Note in the NYT clarifies a, er, grave mistake made more than once in the paper recently. According to the Times, Hugo Chavez said at a press conference that he regretted not having met Noam Chomsky before he died. As the paper was all too happy to point out, the esteemed author and scholar is still alive! But, as the Times notes today: “In fact, what Mr. Chavez said was, ‘I am an avid reader of Noam Chomsky, as I am of an American professor who died some time ago.’ Two sentences later Mr. Chavez named John Kenneth Galbraith, the Harvard economist who died last April. … Mr. Chavez was speaking in Spanish at the news conference, but simultaneous English translation by the United Nations left out the reference to Mr. Galbraith…”