Top News

This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News during the one-week period of April 10-17.

Issue: "Osama bin Ashcroft?," April 27, 2002
Scoring system: 5 points for news stories appearing on the front page of The Washington Post, 3 for stories on the next two pages of the "A" section, and 1 thereafter. Same formula for USA Today, except the values are doubled to account for its national circulation. Stories carried on NBC Nightly News receive 10 points if they run before the first ad break, 6 between the first and second break, and 2 thereafter. Anchor-read stories earn 2 points early, 1 point late.
Mideast battles & bombs (202 points)
A young terrorist bomber blew herself up at a Jerusalem marketplace just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, killing six people and wounding more than 80. The market, a site of several previous bombings and attacks, is less than a mile from where Secretary of State Colin Powell had met with Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that his troops would be pulling out from most Palestinian towns, including Nablus and Jenin, but not from the hot spots of Bethlehem or Ramallah. As they rounded up thousands of Palestinian terrorism suspects, Israeli forces arrested Marwan Barghouti, a close lieutenant of PLO leader Yasser Arafat and a popular representative of the intifada, or armed struggle. Israeli officials say they have evidence that Mr. Barghouti financed terrorist attacks through the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Mr. Sharon again rejected the idea of signing a peace agreement with Mr. Arafat, asking instead for new leaders.
Bush's mideast mediation (148 points)
The Jerusalem bombing delayed Colin Powell's meeting with Yasser Arafat. Talks with the Palestinian leader and Israeli officials led to no immediate movement toward a ceasefire, but Mr. Powell began promoting the idea of an international peace conference at the foreign-ministers level, so that Mr. Arafat and Mr. Sharon would not have to meet. Mr. Powell also met with Lebanese and Syrian officials to discuss recent attacks along Israel's northern border by Hezbollah terrorists. TeamBush couldn't ignore an estimated 100,000 supporters of Israel who attended a rally at the U.S. Capitol. Politicians of both parties joined the rally's strong defense of the country's right to strike back at Palestinian attacks on civilians. Despite mostly supportive remarks on behalf of President Bush, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was booed by the crowd when he noted that "innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well. It is critical that we recognize and acknowledge that fact."
Catholics in crisis (65 points)
Despite growing outrage over documents showing official neglect at stopping sexual abuse by priests, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law wrote in a letter to "brother priests" that he remains "determined" not to resign, despite his distress at becoming a "lightning rod of division when mine should be a ministry of unity." The 70-year-old cardinal, an ally of Pope John Paul II, broke weeks of virtual silence around the growing scandal, but his aides said he would remain largely in seclusion. The pope summoned 11 of America's cardinals to a special meeting in Rome, taking his first high-profile action on the matter after meeting in Vatican City with top officials of the U.S. bishops conference. The pontiff did not indicate whether he would ask for Cardinal Law's resignation. American cardinals were last summoned by the pope in 1989, over divisions between American Catholics and the church leadership over birth control and divorce.
Homeland security (41 points)
Airport passenger screening is costing the federal government almost four times what the airline industry paid before Sept. 11. USA Today reported the newly formed Transportation Security Administration expects to pay as much as $211 million a month for passenger-screening services from private firms, compared to $55 million a month the airlines paid in 2000 before the terrorist attacks. The government took over supervision of the screeners on Feb. 17, and the transition should be finished by Nov. 19, when all screeners will be federal employees. In a related poll, respondents suggested they feel safe from acts of terror where they live. When asked how likely it was that there will be acts of terrorism in their community in the next several weeks, 87 percent of those polled said it was not too likely or not at all likely, and another 10 percent said only somewhat likely.
Democrats regroup (30 points)
Former vice president Al Gore jumped back into the political arena with a speech in Orlando to his hardened supporters in the Florida Democratic Party. Speaking loudly in a sweat-drenched blue shirt, Mr. Gore claimed Republicans are "selling out America's future" and are out "to dismantle every policy that helps the little guy and paint it as an effort to do him a favor." Other potential 2004 presidential contenders, including Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), John Edwards (N.C.), and Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), also stepped forward to criticize the president's domestic and foreign policies. Sen. Kerry insisted Democrats won't let the president "do to Social Security what Arthur Andersen and the administration's friends did to Enron." Democrats distanced themselves from Rep. James Traficant of Ohio, who was found guilty on 10 counts of fraud, bribery, and racketeering, but he pledged to run for reelection as an independent, even though the Ohio legislature carved his district in two.

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