Much news consensus today: Everybody's lead is on everybody else's front. USA Today and the Washington Post lead with the recommendation by the relevant committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court that President Clinton be disbarred for his "serious misconduct" in giving misleading answers under oath in the Paula Jones case. Both papers run the Clinton reaction--his personal lawyer stated that it will be vigorously disputed in court--but USAT leads the piece with it and puts it in the subhead. The story also sits atop the Wall Street Journal front-page news box. The New York Times leads with the Supreme Court's strike-down of a federal rule requiring many cable TV systems (those that can't scramble their system opaquely enough) to limit sexually explicit fare to late-night hours. The story also sits atop the WSJ front-page finance news box. Picking up where yesterday's NYT and Post leads left off, the Los Angeles Times lead describes how Israel's 22-year-old presence in Southern Lebanon crumbled Monday as jubilant Arab fighters and civilians swept into the newly vacated positions in the buffer zone. The paper reports that an accelerant was the collapse of Israel's client militia the Southern Lebanon Army. Many SLA members, fearing harsh treatment as collaborators at the hands of the advancing Hezbollah guerrillas, are massing at the Israeli border in hopes of asylum. Hezbollah is now declaring itself, says the paper, as the first Arab force to defeat the Jewish state.
The WP calls the Arkansas finding a "new humiliation" for Clinton. But all the papers point out that this would not be a first for a president--that dishonor goes to Richard Nixon, who lost his law license after leaving office, for Watergatery. (The LAT is alone in stating that he surrendered his license voluntarily.) USAT and the NYT report that Clinton told NBC that out of a desire to avoid distracting from his presidential duties, he does not plan to participate in the upcoming disbarment hearing, even though that will put him at a severe disadvantage.
The NYT is the only paper that really communicates some sense of the de facto standards for disbarment in Arkansas, claiming that it usually only happens to lawyers (about 100 a year) there who've stolen from a client. (Click here for Steve Chapman's take on disbarring Bill.)
The coverage of the court's undoing of cable sex time-slot restrictions suggests that the decision could eventually prove important in keeping Internet speech unregulated.
The LAT front reports that movie business higher-ups are prominent among those lobbying for the China trade bill. The paper reports that Jack Valenti, the movie biz's chief lobbyist, has talked to 28 key lawmakers in recent weeks in connection with the measure. And Disney's Michael Eisner recently met with House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The paper notes that the increase in movie distribution under the deal could be huge: Currently, the Chinese government only lets in about 10 foreign films a year and with only half the revenue from them going to the studios involved.
Another bigfoot steps in to endorse the China bill on similar grounds, on the WP op-ed page: Bill Gates, who notes that right now only about 2.5 percent of Chinese own a computer and less than 1 percent has Internet access. But, says Gates, those numbers are growing very fast, as is the Microsoft presence there.
The NYT goes inside with word that Microsoft has filed an unexpected brief in its antitrust trial that quotes from a 5-year-old government document (from the government's first antitrust suit against Microsoft, resolved in 1995 by consent decree) in which the DOJ argued against breaking up the company, on grounds of protecting the public interest and the economy.
The WSJ "Work Week" column reports that more doctors are making early retirement plans. One survey quoted found that of 300 physicians at least 50 years old, 38 percent plans to retire within three years. The item suggests that the meaning of this is that managed care is creating huge dissatisfaction among doctors. But the paper doesn't notice that it also suggests that under the current system, doctors are still extraordinarily well paid. In how many other professions do nearly 40 percent of the practitioners have enough scratch to retire while still in their early 50s?
The passing of 96-year-old acting legend John Gielgud grabs major frontage at both Times. Gielgud's advice, passed along by the NYT, for playing King Lear: "All I can tell you is to get a small Cordelia."
USAT fronts the results of the first major scientific test of the effects of Viagra on women. Finding: Where women are concerned, the stuff doesn't work any better than placebos. The story explains that Viagra promotes better blood flow, but that for improved sex, most women need other things: more sleep, a better relationship, or feeling better about themselves. The study was conducted for 12 weeks on 577 women. Today's Papers once reached the same conclusion studying one woman for one night.