Papal Bull

Papal Bull

Papal Bull

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 17 1998 7:29 AM

Papal Bull

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and the Washington Post lead with the White House response to Kathleen Willey. The New York Times leads with the Vatican's official repentance regarding the mass killings of Jews during World War II. And the Los Angeles Times goes with the news that the first three University of California campuses to generate admissions statistics since the system abandoned affirmative action have seen their black and Latino acceptance rates plummet.

Yesterday's White House response to Willey was primarily two-fold: a strong denial from President Clinton, and the release of a raft of friendly letters Willey sent to the White House after the date she alleges she was groped by Clinton. In one letter, widely quoted, she calls herself Clinton's "number one fan." In another, Willey asks to be appointed to an ambassadorship. The NYT says some of the letters were "effusive." And a piece inside USAT says they "do not suggest a woman who felt betrayed." (There was also the effort of Clinton's personal lawyer, Robert Bennett, noted by the NYT and USAT, to portray Willey as mercenary for trying to land a book deal.)

None of the day's coverage of the Willey letters pays the slightest heed to the well-known phenomenon of even physically abused women having trouble expressing their animosity towards their abusers or physically separating from them. It's as if nobody in the entire press corps remembers that Nicole Brown Simpson moved back in with O.J. after those pictures were taken of her pummeled face.

Despite the six-cylinder spin cycle, USAT says that "there was no ignoring the dark mood that settled over the White House" in Willey's wake. The paper noted a rare moment of anger by Mike McCurry, who lashed out at a reporter who asked him whether Clinton had ever received psychological treatment or counseling for risky and reckless behavior.

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The WP lead makes that point that when originally confronted with the Willey charges, Clinton released a statement saying that he had "no specific recollection" of meeting with her, but that his current denial is based on "a very clear memory" of the meeting.

USAT notes that Ann Lewis, who spearheaded the anti-Willey counteroffensive yesterday with an appearance on the "Today" show, was a leading supporter of Anita Hill. But the Post lead puts a finer point on the matter, noting, "Democratic activists--Lewis among them--had accused Republicans of attacking the victim when they noted in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991 that Anita Hill had continued to stay in close touch with Thomas even after he allegedly harassed her with lewd sexual remarks."

Such apparently effortless shifting by some women is called to task pointedly in the Wall Street Journal's main "Politics and Policy" piece via a quotation from a Democratic consultant, who says, "What gets to the heart of it is that feminism is no longer a principle, it's a political tool."

The NYT lead concerning the Vatican points out that while the document issued Monday is described by the Church as "an act of repentance" for the failure of Roman Catholics to deter the mass killings in Europe during the Holocaust, it skirts the issue of the Vatican's institutional shortcomings during the era, primarily its official silence about the Nazis. The document, says the paper, took 11 years to prepare, and was greeted coolly by Jewish leaders. Everybody carries the repentance story on the front page.

Everybody's front page also carries word that the McKinney trial jury didn't send the former sergeant major of the Army to jail, but did bust him down one rank, a move that will cost him $10,000 a year in pension money. Also, McKinney sued his initial accuser for libel, asking $1.5 million. Meanwhile, the LAT and NYT fronts report that Defense Secretary William Cohen rejected an advisory commission's recommendation that male and female recruits be housed separately during training.

The NYT runs the following correction: "Because of an editing error, an article on Feb. 26 about Manhattanites' reliance on mini-storage referred incorrectly to doves and a rabbit used in the act of Arnie Kolodner, a magician. While he keeps costumes in mini-storage, the rabbit and doves live in his home. A correction in this space on Saturday omitted mention of the rabbit."