Petal Pushers

Petal Pushers

Petal Pushers

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 27 2000 8:12 AM

Petal Pushers

USA Today leads with senior U.S. intelligence officials saying they have obtained "hard evidence" linking Osama bin Laden to the Cole bombing, evidence they say show he financed the attack and sent one of his top aides to supervise it. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the Republican-led House's largely-party-line passage of tax and spending legislation that President Clinton vowed to veto, calling it a "partisan legislative package" that doesn't do enough for the middle class. The New York Times goes with the claim that no matter who prevails on the budget wrangle, the resulting spending is likely to consume more than 40 percent of the non-Social Security surplus that's projected to accrue over the next decade, 40 percent that is, of the money that Al Gore and George W. Bush are counting on to pay for their own proposals. The NYT top features a picture of American culture's only authorized full-on guy-guy grope--two Yankees rushing into each other's arms to celebrate the team's World Series win last night.

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The USAT lead takes a step closer to blaming the Cole blast on bin Laden than yesterday's WP lead, which said that there was a growing body of evidence implicating him. But as the story makes clear, it's just a step, because unlike those senior intelligence officials, the law enforcement folks the paper talked to weren't ready to blame bin Laden.

The WP lead depicts the budget developments as a surprising blow-up in what had been a relatively cordial process heading to a smooth wrap-up. The Post makes the game of political chicken quite clear: With 10 days to go until the elections, a Clinton veto could either leave Congress open to the "do-nothing" charge or could leave voters unhappy at an administration that denies them the bill's Medicare and minimum wage increases and tax cuts. The LAT lead says that what has really upset congressional Democrats is that key legislation was written without their input. The story also reports that House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt showed up for a Democrats' meeting wearing face paint and a breastplate and brandishing a spear.

The LAT goes above the fold with yesterday's revelation that Russian divers had recovered, along with some of the bodies they brought up from the sunken submarine Kursk, a note with time references that one of the ship's officers had written and then put in his pocket, which proves that 23 members of the crew survived on board for at least a couple of hours. One side of the officer's note conveyed technical information, the other was a private message to his wife. The LAT reports that Russian officials pointed out yesterday that the note does not show that the 23 men could have been saved--because the sub wasn't known to be missing until almost eight hours after the last written entry. The NYT and USAT also front the note.

The WP fronts a heretofore unnoticed battleground in the Middle East: cyberspace. It seems that online Arabs and Jews have been trashing the hell out of each other's sites. Israel, which the paper explains is one of the world's most computer literate countries, has some technical advantages here, but for the same reason also provides more targets. That's why the Israeli army announced that in case its regular domestic Internet provider should be rendered hors de combat, it has hired AT&T as a backup.

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The papers political coverage capture Al Gore declaring his to-the-marrow enviro commitments before the largest crowd he's seen in months, in Madison, Wisconsin, and George W. Bush, in a stump appearance in Pennsylvania alongside Colin Powell, referring to Gore's initial reaction to the 1996 fund-raising scandal: "In my administration, we will make it clear there is the controlling authority of conscience." And the NYT reports that in several states today, a remake of the famous LBJ anti-Goldwater ad featuring the little girl plucking petals from a daisy will be shown to attack Al Gore. The ad, paid for by a Texas-based nonprofit, charges that because the Clinton-Gore administration sold the nation's security to "Communist Red China for campaign contributions," China now has "the ability to threaten our homes with long-range nuclear warheads." And the WP reports that the Republican National Committee is springing for an ad in Michigan featuring Lee Iacocca saying that "Al Gore may see the car as our enemy, but in Michigan, it's our jobs."

A Wall Street Journal front-pager details how while Dick Cheney was the Halliburton CEO, the company had a big pipeline project in Myanmar, a country run by one of the world's most repressive military regimes, and the paper observes that although this is certainly legal, most U.S. companies, including most oil companies, pulled out of there years ago. The piece describes the project as benefiting from forced labor and numerous acts of violence by the country's military.

The WSJ reports that Microsoft and the FBI are together investigating a computer break-in at MS headquarters by hackers who apparently got away with the blueprints to the company's most valuable software, including the latest versions of Windows and Office. Apparently, the material was being sent to an email address in St. Petersburg, Russia. But the story also quotes a company spokesman saying that "Microsoft source code remains secure."

The NYT op-ed page features a defense of George W. Bush's Texas public school accomplishments against charges raised in a recent Rand Corp. study. It is written by William Bennett and Chester E. Finn. Bennett is identified as a former Reagan administration secretary of education, but Finn is described merely as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Readers might conclude from all this that while Bennett comes with partisan markings, Finn does not. But that would be false. Why doesn't the Times mention that Finn also served in the Reagan administration, as an assistant secretary of education?

A story deep inside the WP about the disgruntlement of Arabs living on the West Bank runs under the headline: "ISRAEL'S GRINDING PRESENCE WAS SPARK IGNITING PALESTINIAN RAGE." Note that there are no actual people in this headline, only abstract nouns like "presence" and "rage." And note also that according to the headline, it's the presence that sparks the rage and not other way around. Today's Papers doesn't in principle object to news headlines or the stories they go over that express opinions, but it's a journalism sin to express an opinion while pretending not to.