The Fengtion of Journalism

The Fengtion of Journalism

The Fengtion of Journalism

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 24 1999 6:57 AM

The Fengtion of Journalism

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times each lead with a different Yugoslav war angle, while USA Today opts for a Middle East exclusive: Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat have reached the outline of an agreement according to which Israel would not oppose Arafat's declaration of a Palestinian state by the end of this year, with its capital being just outside the contemporary municipal boundary of Jerusalem, on land ceded to the Palestinians in 1996, but within a centuries-old notion of the city's extent. USAT's choice of a headline, "DEAL IS CLOSE ON JERUSALEM," is a little suspect since the Palestinian declaration of a state and Israel's acceptance of this is the bigger story.

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The WP lead reports that NATO's air war commander, Lt. Gen. Michael Short, says of his bombing campaign, "I'll tell you that if we do this for two more months, we will either kill this army in Kosovo or send it on the run." This is the first hard time-line assigned to a favorable outcome by any senior person in the NATO or U.S. chain of command and, as the WP notes, stands in direct contrast to Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon's comment last Friday that airstrikes alone may not get the job done in the next two months. In the interview, Short makes a veiled reference to his discomfort with the civilian leadership over him: "As an airman, I would have done this differently. It would not be an incremental air campaign or a slow buildup, but we would go downtown from the first night." The Post should have noted that this is an area that's got generals canned in the past--for instance, Gen. Douglas MacArthur under Truman and Gen. John Singlaub under Carter. The story also reveals that after NATO raids struck two civilian convoys last month, Short established a lower minimum altitude for his pilots so that they could better identify what they were blowing up.

The LAT lead focuses on the testimony of some 500 plus exhausted, emaciated Kosovar Albanian men of fighting age who've just been released by the Serbs into Albania, a story that the WP had yesterday and revisits again today, and which is also referred to in the NYT lead. The men tell of being beaten and starved and being forced to fight each other--sometimes father against son--to amuse their Serb captors. The paper points out that this wave of escapees pales besides the number of 14-59 year-old Kosovar Albanian males who can't be accounted for. The paper reports that a UN team searching for Albanian men in Kosovo was taken repeatedly to empty villages and told that other locations of interest were out of bounds. And the NYT lead reports that the Yugoslav military is still sending fresh troops into Kosovo to reinforce positions along the Albanian border, suggesting a determination to keep hold of Kosovo and to continue to drive out armed Albanians.

The WP runs a brief item stating that according to the Sunday Times of London, the British government knows that Muammar Qaddafi ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 but that it has ordered the ST not to publish any details about this.

The LAT front addresses "Homies," small action figures decked out in baggy clothes and bandannas that are selling well in California's Latino neighborhoods. Many, including many in law enforcement, decry the toys as popularizing gangs among very young Latinos. Their creator is quoted denying this, but the story also includes this assessment from a third-grader: "They're cool! They're gangsters. ... Can I have this one?"

A Wall Street Journal story reports that with TV networks legally free to develop their own TV shows, they are wringing more and more concessions out of the outside producers of the shows they agree to air. CBS, for instance, negotiated a piece of every one of the six new shows it will be airing in the fall. One result of the new leverage is that some episodes will be seen as often as four times this coming season, instead of the traditional two.

Leave it to Norman Mailer to see the sex angle in Kosovo. In a WP op-ed, he writes of the architects of the Clinton policy: "Combat, for those who get into it, is about as strange and mysterious an experience as first sex. To have, therefore, such men (plus Madeleine Albright) functioning as our command trust for the Kosovo campaign is analogous to asking a young fellow innocent of carnal experience to become a marriage counselor."

The front page of the real estate section of the LAT now features a feng shui advice column, in which readers can learn the likes of "[S]leeping with your head to the north will help you remember your dreams and enhance your perception and understanding of them."

Who's better known, NYT columnists Maureen Dowd and Bob Herbert or Bill Clinton? Well, according to Sunday's Times op-ed page, which featured essays from each, the answer is Dowd and Herbert. Neither of their columns featured a bio-line, but Clinton's essay, a defense of his Kosovo policy, ran over the much-needed information: "William Jefferson Clinton is the 42nd President."