February 22, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

He said, she said, he said: Sharp words emerge on campaign trail

Them are fightin’ words. And they are on the front page.

The battle for president continued to heat up as the two Democratic candidates debated Thursday night. “Democrats tussle in Texas debate,” The Philadelphia Inquirer said. “Debate swings from bland to barbed,” The Seattle Times said, adding: “She says he stole speech material; he says she botched health reform.”

The debate was held in Austin, where the American-Statesman’s lead story began: “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama affably two-stepped for half a debate … before bursting into prickly exchanges.” The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer used this description: “High stakes, serious words.”

A day after a New York Times’ story about John McCain’s ties to a lobbyist, the Republican candidate promised a fight against the newspaper that earlier endorsed him. “McCain: Allegations ‘not true,’” said The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, where McCain made a campaign stop. The Los Angeles Times said: “N.Y. Times story on McCain and a lobbyist is hotly debated and may help the senator with conservatives.” The New York Post summed it up: “Mac-lash.”

As for the Times, its front page contained two stories about the Democrats and a photo. It made a reference to an inside story: “McCain Disputes Article.” Many newspapers packaged stories about Democratic and Republican candidates together, including the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D. “Debate and denial,” it said.

From Billings, Mont., to Orlando and locations around the world, images of the U.S. Embassy in Serbia on fire made the front page. “American support for Kosovo’s independence triggers rioting by Serbs,” The San Diego Union-Tribune said.

Expect a battle in Tennessee on Saturday. The state boasts No. 1 and No. 2 in men’s college basketball, and state newspapers previewed the game between the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee. “Building to a frenzy,” The Commercial Appeal of Memphis said of the excitement. The Tennessean in Nashville printed a column: “Top teams make Tenn. a hotbed for hoops.” The News Sentinel in Knoxville seemed to remain neutral: “Choose your hue.”

kkennedy@freedomforum.org Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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