Drowning on Whitewater
September 21, 2000
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The lead news story in this morning's New York Times, about a statement by Independent Counsel Robert Ray concerning the Clintons and Whitewater, put it about right: "The report's conclusions also appeared to largely undercut concerns that it was unfair to Mrs. Clinton for Mr. Ray to issue a statement only weeks before she faces Representative Rick Lazio, a Republican Congressman from Long Island, in the Senate voting."
Among those whose "concerns" have been "undercut" is none other than the New York Times itself, which wrote in an August 30 editorial, "If Mr. Ray cares at all about his credibility, and about whether the public sees his report as an objective document or a time bomb lobbed at Mrs. Clinton's campaign, he will delay it until after the election."
Apparently, the Times' undoubtedly sincere concern about Mr. Ray's "credibility" has evaporated now that Mr. Ray has found that there isn't enough evidence in the Whitewater case to prove the Clintons guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In an editorial today, the Times calls for Mr. Ray's full report to "be released so that the public can draw its own conclusions."
Now that it is clear that the report lets the Clintons off fairly easily, the Times favors its immediate release so that the public can draw its own conclusions. Just three weeks ago, when Mr. Ray's conclusions were unknown, the Times favored withholding the report from the public until after the election. Today's Times editorial gives no explanation for the newspaper's sudden about-face. One could almost think the newspaper is rooting against Mr. Lazio.
Economic Scene: The "Economic Scene" column in the business section of today's Times considers the practice of "differential pricing," which is in the news lately as it apples to pharmaceutical companies charging different prices to consumers in America and in Canada. The column goes on for a while about the medicine price issue before reaching the following conclusion: "When it allows markets to be served that would otherwise be ignored, price discrimination will tend to be socially useful. But if differential pricing is just an excuse to raise prices that would otherwise be low, it doesn't have much to recommend it." We wonder if the Times would be willing to apply that same test not only to the medicine companies' practice of charging different prices in different places, but to the newspaper company's practice of charging $2.50 for a copy of the Sunday Times in New York City, and $4.00 outside the Boston-Washington corridor.
Still Ignorant on Immigrants: A front-of-the-metro-section story on the assault in Long Island on two immigrant workers from Mexico omits for the second day in a row the relevant fact of whether the assault victims were in America legally or illegally and whether they had the appropriate work documents.
Military Backs Bush: A front-page New York Times story today reports that the military is backing George W. Bush in the presidential election. What is this assertion based on? According to the article, "about 20 interviews." Well, the military may well be backing Bush in the election, but you don't have to be a pollster or a social scientists to know that 20 interviews isn't enough to get an accurate portrayal of the views of the entire active-duty American military.
"Free Economic Counseling": A dispatch from Mizpe Ramon, Israel, in the international section of this morning's Times reports that a couple from the Haifa area showed up at the Mizpe Ramon factory "offering free economic counseling. 'They touched our hearts,' said Anat Cohen, a worker." What do they mean, "economic counseling"? Is that like management consulting? Or is it like personal financial planning? How about an explanation?
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