Monica's Choice

Monica's Choice

Monica's Choice

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Nov. 17 1998 3:50 AM

Monica's Choice

The New York Times leads with more tough words from the U.S. about Iraq, but the Los Angeles Times is the only other paper to front the Iraq story at all. The Washington Post's top national story analyzes the stock market's resurgence. USA Today goes with the Supreme Court's decision not to consider two campaign finance reform cases. And the LAT leads with an analysis of the $206 billion proposed settlement between the states and tobacco companies.

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The NYT lead says that the U.S. and Britain are highly skeptical of Saddam Hussein's compliance and that "there was an unusually strong consensus Monday that American and British bombing was almost inevitable." The real test, says the Times, should come in a few weeks when surprise weapons inspections begin. British Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed the Clinton Administration's strongly worded sentiments; next time, Blair said, there will be "no warnings, no wrangling, no negotiations, no last-minute letters." American and British forces could be deployed within hours of any decision to attack. Other interesting stories from the NYT's Iraq package report that 1) President Clinton's decision to terminate the Iraq strike came just 15 minutes before the missiles were to launch; and 2) The French are miffed at Sen. John McCain for insinuating that France tipped Saddam Hussein off to the imminent attack. McCain remarked of the attack plan, "We had to inform our allies, including the French."

The LAT tobacco suit story notes that if the case is settled, "the industry got off relatively cheaply in strict financial terms." Smokers themselves, rather than the industry, will essentially shoulder the $206 billion cost through 35-cents-per-pack price increases; the LAT says that this is not enough to seriously dampen consumption. Health advocates have already criticized the settlement as too lax, but the state attorneys general are eager to settle and get the money. For the settlement to take effect, states representing 80% of the nation's Medicare patients must sign by Friday.

The USAT lead, tucked inside elsewhere, says that the Supreme Court elected not to hear cases from Ohio and Arkansas about campaign finance reform. USAT emphasizes that prospects for spending reform by the 2000 elections now seem remote, as Congress is generally disinclined to pass the necessary legislation.

The WP off-lead about the soaring stock market is buoyed by Tuesday's figures, when the Dow finished above 9000 for the first time since July--18% higher than it was October 1st. Factors in the market rise, says the Post, include interest rate cuts, high corporate earnings, and the waning prospect of Clinton's impeachment. However, doubts linger as to whether the market can maintain its course in the face of the global economic crisis.

The Wall Street Journal fronts a terrific story on the Fed's arduous decision-making process. The Fed's announcements and hints on forthcoming interest rate moves are pegged to a delicate PR dance; one ill-timed or misunderstood word can flip markets. The WSJ paints Alan Greenspan as a highly autonomous operator; he "makes major policy changes only at FOMC meetings--partly so the Fed doesn't look like the one-man show it often is." Another Fed decision on interest rate cuts is coming today.

Monica Lewinsky has signed a book deal with St. Martin's Press, a story fronted everywhere but the WP (which gives it to "Style") and the LAT. The book (working title: "Monica's Story) will be ghost-written by Andrew Morton, the author of a best-selling Princess Diana book. It could come out as early as February, says the WP. All papers note that Monica's author fee is unexpectedly modest--the NYT says it's just $600,000 plus bestseller bonuses. For free, Monica also has agreed to a television interview with Barbara Walters of ABC. A date has not been set, as Lewinsky is still ironing out with Kenneth Starr's office the legal nuances of a media appearance, but the NYT guesses February. The WP says that Lewinsky may haul in a seven-figure sum for a separate TV deal to be broadcast outside the U.S.

From the Slate self-reference corner: A NYT "Business" piece analyzes Slate's Microsoft trial coverage, saying that irreverent descriptions of jowly Microsoft lawyers by Slate's inaugural courtroom correspondent, Michael Lewis, "seemed mightily unfettered by Microsoft." "Today's Papers," who also edits Slate's "Email to the Editor," recommends the piece to the legions of you out there who sent in comments about the trial coverage.