March 14, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Gonzalez in Page One hot seat; Ark. tackles hot issue — the apostrophe

Questions about the appropriateness of the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year made the top national news slot on many U.S. front pages. Most headlines focused on the role of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, on the front lines of the Bush administration’s effort to explain the ousters. The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal paraphrased Gonzales, speaking at a news conference yesterday about what he had done: “Attorney General: I messed up.” Many other headlines focused what the AG said he wouldn’t do: “Top U.S. lawyer not quitting,” The Fresno (Calif.) Bee; “Gonzales refuses to resign,” Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star; “Gonzales brushes aside calls to quit,” The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The AG story bumped President Bush’s visit to Mexico down in the news hierarchy in many newspapers. But several U.S. Spanish-language newspapers, as well as Mexican dailies, led with the presidential trip. Al Dia in Dallas ran a large photo of Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon shaking hands; its headline noted that Bush had pledged to fight for immigration reform. La Estrella in Dallas had a similar photo and a similar headline, saying Bush had offered compromiso on immigration issues. Mexico’s El Informador went with the presidents’ tour of Mayan ruins for artwork. Diario de Yucatan sounded a slightly different note, leading with Calderon’s expression of displeasure over U.S. legislation authorizing 700 miles of fencing and other barriers along the U.S.-Mexican border: “Hinojosa le recrimina la construccion del muro.”

Back in the states, the Arkansas legislature was grappling with its own divisive issue: grammar. Yes, grammar. It’s not often that a punctuation predicament leaps out of Strunk & White and onto a newspaper front page, but today’s Sentinel-Record of Hot Springs, Ark., ran a prominent story on the state legislature’s resolution that the possessive case of Arkansas should be “Arkansas’s.” AP reporter Jon Gambrell noted that the issue had become a “grammatical Gordian knot” for lawmakers, some of whom “groaned” when the issue came before the Senate. Sen. Jim Hill, who supported the resolution, said he was disappointed about the “lack of enthusiasm on the floor” during the debate period: “I expected more intelligent questions than this.” Grammarians across the country probably did, too.

Christy Mumford Jerding is the editorial director of the Freedom Forum.

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