Hand Jab

Hand Jab

Hand Jab

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 2 2003 4:32 AM

Hand Jab

The New York Times leads with the G-8 summit in France and emphasizes President Bush's efforts to push an administration proposal to create some sort of international legal basis for seizing missiles and unconventional weapons (nukes, chemical or biological) found in transit in international waters. The Washington Post also leads with the summit but focuses on how everybody was getting along. Not so well, says the Post, "BUSH, CHIRAC MAKE LITTLE HEADWAY ON RECONCILIATION." The Post notes that President Bush will skip the last day of the meeting. A French official said Bush won't be forgotten; his absence will be commemorated by an empty chair at the table. The Los Angeles Times leads with, the WP fronts, and the NYT doesn't headline, word that the U.S. has decided to cancel a scheduled national conference for Iraqis that would have picked delegates to serve on an interim advisory council; instead, the U.S. will handpick members of the council that at first won't have any real power but could eventually oversee some non-security related ministries. U.S. officials said they made the change because they were concerned that exile groups would dominate the planned national conference. USA Today leads with follow-up on the capture of alleged abortion clinic and Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph. The paper focuses on an interview it got with Rudolph's mother who said she thinks he must have had help while on the run.

The papers all run Page One photos of the not-so-warm handshake between President Bush and French President Chirac. "Brief but not hurried, cordial but not effusive," concludes the LAT, which alone among paper is moved by the pan-Atlantic palming, "AT SUMMIT, A MAKEUP SESSION." The NYT details the various greetings the president meted out and concludes that British Prime Minister Tony Blair got the best deal, "a swinging handshake, as if he were one of Mr. Bush's Yale fraternity brothers."

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The NYT fronts the latest sign of guerrilla action in Iraq: Gunmen with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a U.S. convoy in Baghdad yesterday. At least one GI was injured, and one Iraqi civilian was killed. "This is just the beginning!" shouted a woman, a bank manager. "You are our enemy. You entered Iraq searching for weapons, but where are the weapons?" Not all the residents near the attack sympathized with the gunmen. "They were not from [here]," said one. "They are people trying to provoke the Americans." There was also a mortar attack yesterday on an American base in Baghdad, the first time that's happened since the city fell. One GI was slightly injured.

In an interesting piece, the Post tells what's going on in Baghdad from two perspectives: One of its reporters walked around with an American patrol, while another hung behind and got Iraqis' reactions to the GIs. The result: The GIs said they were confident that most residents dug them; only 10 percent were hostile, soldiers said. But many Iraqis said they weren't psyched about the Americans' presence. Most of the hostility came from Sunnis.

The NYT, looking at the different parties in Iraq, briefly mentions the "nascent democratic movement of Nasir al-Chadirchy." Who are these folks, and what are they proposing?

Everybody mentions inside that the FCC is expected to vote today in favor of loosening media ownership rules. The vote will probably go along party lines—and critics say that it's going to allow way too much consolidation. 

Put Post TV columnist Tom Shales among the naysayers. He  wants readers to bust out the berets and head to the barricades: "Unless people wise up and rise up, they'll discover that America's 'marketplace of ideas' is owned and controlled by only a handful of appallingly powerful and interdependent corporations. ... The FCC is riding to the rescue of huge media conglomerates that need rescuing about as much as Spider-Man, Batman and the Terminator do."

Eric Umansky, previously the "Today's Papers" columnist for Slate, is currently a Gordon Grey Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism.