Really Juvenile Reynolds

Really Juvenile Reynolds

Really Juvenile Reynolds

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Jan. 15 1998 7:23 AM

Really Juvenile Reynolds

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and the Washington Post lead with revelations from newly disclosed R.J. Reynolds internal documents that seem to show that the company has persistently attempted to market cigarettes to teens. This is also the top national story at the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times leads with the U.N. Security Council's vote telling Iraq to honor previous promises to allow U.N. inspectors complete access to suspected weapons sites.

The new tobacco documents (many of them marked "Secret"), released as part of a lawsuit settlement, show a company strategy of attracting teenagers through advertising and various youth-oriented promotions such as, according to USAT, "NASCAR sponsorship," "inner city activities," and "T-shirts and other paraphernalia." And says USAT, the documents show that RJR's introduction of "Joe Camel" fits in to this strategy.

The dailies point out that since, in 1994, the then-CEO of RJR testified before Congress that the company does not market to children, these new documents have prompted congressional interest in perjury charges. They also report that former FDA head David Kessler says the new material is "a smoking gun" that shows why Congress shouldn't approve the proposed national tobacco settlement.

The company responded by repeating its denial of youth targeting and stating that the documents are being taken out of context, telling the WP, "Our documents reflect the social attitudes of the times in which they were created."

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The Wall Street Journal, which flags the story in its front-page news box, passes along another RJR defense: that one document that seemed to be suggesting pitching product to 13-year-olds contained a typographical error and was really about 18-year-olds. However, according to the Post, some documents refer to 12-year-olds.

The WP really goes to town on the RJR story, backing up its lead with two more stories inside--one on how the revelations will play politically and the other a collection of extensive selections from the RJR documents. The NYT plays the story inside.

The NYT lead passes along a CBS News report that arms inspectors have photographic evidence of Iraqi biological weapon experiments on human beings. The paper also states that China was wavering on the Security Council action, but was finally brought along by the decision to "deplore" Iraq's behavior rather than "condemn" it. (No telling how many votes could have been garnered if they'd gone with "not really thrilled.")

The WSJ says that Hallmark Cards is coming out with a sympathy card for relatives of those who've committed suicide.

The NYT reports that on educational grounds Georgia Gov. Zell Miller proposed as part of his state budget spending $105,000 to make classical music available to every child born in the state. During his budget address Tuesday, he played a bit of "Ode to Joy," and then asked lawmakers, "Now, don't you feel smarter already?"

Social scientist James Q. Wilson, in a Times op-ed piece, makes the following argument for the sanity of Ted Kacszynski: "There is nothing in the [Unabomber] manifesto that looks at all like the work of a madman. The language is clear, precise and calm. The argument is subtle and carefully developed, lacking anything even faintly resembling the wild claims or irrational speculation that a lunatic might produce." Wilson also observes that besides the Unabomber's manifesto, his "skill in manufacturing bombs and the clever ways in which he concealed his identity suggest to me that he was clearly sane." Of course, the legal usefulness of these observations is somewhat dubious, because this attempt to show that Theodore Kacszynski is fit to stand trial depends on the assumption that he is the Unabomber, which in turn requires a trial first, which first requires showing that he is fit to stand trial, and so on.

With NBC's deal to retain "ER" at a cost of $13 million an episode getting front-page coverage at the NYT, LAT, and the WSJ, maybe the next big domestic policy issue will be controlling television health care costs.