Today's Papers

The Last Days

The Los Angeles Timesfills its lead slot with a look at the presidential candidates’ strategies for the last nine days on the campaign trail. McCain plans to spend most of his time attacking Obama’s economic plan and warning of a Democratic supermajority, while the Obama campaign is concerned primarily with staving off overconfidence. The Washington Post leads with a look at the increased scrutiny of credit card donations given to the candidates through their Web sites. Barack Obama’s record-shattering $150 million campaign haul has raised questions in both parties about the laxly overseen, anonymous world of Internet campaign donations. The New York Times leads with the slowing demand for American products, which means thousands of Americans are losing their jobs. Many of the United States’ highest-profile corporations have announced layoffs, and economists expect unemployment numbers to exceed 200,000 when they are announced Nov. 7.

Barack Obama’s “message of hope” will remain the same through Nov. 4, the LAT reports, while John McCain is sharpening the points of a “three-pronged” final attack that will focus on Obama’s tax plan, his limited experience, and the excessive power the Democratic Party could wield if he is elected. Both sides admit the outlook is bleak for McCain, and the LAT reports that McCain’s aides privately discuss his return to the Senate. Even though Obama leads comfortably in several states that McCain cannot afford to lose, his campaign is concerned about “overconfidence.” Obama campaign officials cite the razor-thin margins by which many battleground states were won in recent elections as caution that the race is still anyone’s game. A framed front-pager in the WP focuses on the Republican Party’s well-oiled get-out-the-vote machine in Colorado (a must-win for McCain), which may be threatened by Obama’s impressively organized volunteers. Colorado Republicans say their grassroots experience in the state should give them an edge.

The WP’s lead story reports that lawyers for both parties have asked the Federal Election Commission to examine Internet campaign donations, as the presidential campaigns have “permitted donors using false names or stolen credit cards to make contributions.” Conservative bloggers first raised the issue when they reported that “test” donations to the Obama campaign under names like “Osama Bin Laden” were always accepted. The Obama campaign says it makes strenuous efforts to flag suspicious donations and points to such irregularities in both candidates’ donor records.

An article in the NYT follows two Hollywood directors who are preparing to release R-rated comedies while hoping to somehow escape the shadow of dirty-laughs-with-a-heart extraordinaire Judd Apatow. It doesn’t help Kevin Smith, director of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, that his movie stars Seth Rogen, the best-known face from Apatow’s wildly popular films. Smith and David Wain, director of the upcoming comedy Role Models, both credit Apatow with reinvigorating the R-rated comedy marketplace, and Smith says he is happy if moviegoers mistakenly believe Apatow was a part of Zack and Miri.

The WP metro section reports that churches and other ministries in the D.C. area are on “the front lines” of the economic crisis as their requests for aid have soared in recent months. Requests at charities operated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington have increased by 25 percent, and houses of worship of several faiths have seen a dramatic increase in calls. Churches are responding creatively: One cut its sermon broadcasts on TV and radio and decreased support to international missions to focus on the 300 percent increase in requests for marriage counseling.

A sprawling front-page story kicks off a seven-part LAT series on “Noir Los Angeles.” Part 1 profiles the “Gangster Squad,” an extralegal group of LAPD officers formed in 1946 to fight organized crime off the record. The squad was known in shady circles for its gun-to-the-head interrogations and obsessive eavesdropping on crime bosses like Mickey Cohen.

The WP “Book World” section reviews a psychological biography of Bill Clinton, a “strange book” that reads like “the work of someone who at times appears to be in the grips of a schoolboy crush.” The author, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins, seems to approach Clinton with preconceived designs, specifically in his attempt to diagnose Clinton with “hypomania” (a psychological predisposition toward charm in which the author has a significant professional interest).

The NYT goes in search of the real Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, American-girl twins with an aura of tabloid-worthy celebrity but a murkily defined public identity. The identical (but fraternal twin) sisters were first known as actors who shared a role on Full House, but now they would rather be known as entrepreneurs. They are co-presidents of a multibillion-dollar entertainment company and manage several fashion lines that carry their own designs. Mary Kate continues to act, starring in the television show Weeds, while Ashley is fixated on creating “a true American brand.”

WP ombudsman Deborah Howell sums up a controversy-ridden week at the paper involving two glaring photo errors (one accidentally selected photo pictured Jack Valenti, who died last year) and a slew of subscriber cancellations after the Post endorsed Barack Obama.

A New Yorker who lost her Wall Street job well ahead of the current situation pens a column in the NYT about finding relief in her misfortune and, after a much-needed period of rest, feels “energized, eager to start a new career, and open to possibility.”