Presidential State of the Unit Address

Presidential State of the Unit Address

Presidential State of the Unit Address

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Sept. 21 1998 7:26 AM

Presidential State of the Unit Address

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and the Washington Post lead with this morning's release of President Clinton's grand jury videotape. That story also runs on the Los Angeles Times front--where the lead is a California election story--but below the paper's survey of Monica Lewinsky's possible career moves (samples from various PR mavens: Go on Oprah, go on Barbara Walters, don't go on Howard Stern). The New York Times, having yesterday led with the details of the tape that no one else had until today, instead goes with a close-up tick-tock of the Clinton administration's decision to attack that plant in Sudan last month.

USAT says the White House is braced for the simultaneous release of both the Clinton tape and the transcript of Lewinsky's grand jury testimony, what it calls "a high-stakes version of 'he said, she said.'" The WP stresses White House Chief of Staff John Podesta's claim on "Meet The Press" (carried inside by the NYT) that the tape's release will produce a backlash against the way Congress is pursuing the Lewinsky matter. USAT goes high with another "Meet the Press" suggestion--by Sen. John Kerry--that Clinton have a come-to-Jesus meeting with the House Judiciary Committee, but goes out of the story only saying that White House aides didn't reject Kerry's suggestion, whereas the LAT videotape story describes the White House reaction as "qualified support," quoting a spokesman as saying the idea is "certainly worth considering." The LAT, WP and NYT (in an inside story) quote Kerry's reasoning: "I believe the president would be well served to explain exactly what he did, exactly what he was thinking." Well no, not exactly. The LAT also mentions a new call for Clinton's resignation, from the newly crowned Miss America.

The LAT says that the Lewinsky material contains graphic details from phone sex conversations between her and Clinton. Actually, the paper says "alleged" phone sex conversations. But this is a silly ritualistic use--Clinton has admitted to the conversations.

The NYT lead reports that some senior administration officials now say their case for attacking the Sudan facility relied on inference as well as evidence--a point the Times started raising within days of the raid and has pressed harder than anyone else. The big news is that the paper now has unnamed CIA and State Dept. honchos saying the government may have made a mistake. The root problem, says the paper, is the absence of U.S. intelligence personnel on the ground in Sudan and the government's resultant reliance on foreign agents, at least one of whom turned out to fabricate his information, which had been the basis for more than 100 CIA reports.

The Wall Street Journal's "The Outlook" worries that Japan's decision last week to opt for bank reform legislation is "widely believed to be too little, too late." It isn't clear, says the paper, that Japanese politicians have the political will required to implement the new law, nor that the U.S. can do much more to influence the country's decision making. The Journal notes a crucial difference between Japan and Asia's other economically ravaged countries: Japan has no foreign debt and hence is free from foreign dictates.

A letter writer to the WP raises an interesting point regarding the Post's recent description of British tactics in Northern Ireland as including "torture." What the British do with IRA suspects, he writes, is not the infliction of extreme physical pain, but the use of a hood along with food- and sleep-deprivation. If this is "torture," then why, he wonders, wasn't this term used in the Post story about Pakistan's treatment of a Kenya embassy bombing suspect, where precisely these deprivations were employed?