Top News

This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News from Oct. 9 to Oct. 15

Issue: "Brothers up in arms," Oct. 26, 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.


random and deadly

350 | The ninth death-by-sniper in a metropolitan area of 4.6 million people carried the Washington-area murder rampage to a saturation level of national media coverage. Washington-area residents watching the end of baseball's National League Championship and Monday night's football game were diverted to split screens for press conferences on another shooting death at the Seven Corners mall in Falls Church, Va. Linda Franklin, 47, was shot in the head as she stood near her husband in a covered Home Depot parking lot, adding to the anxiety of local residents in their most mundane outdoor activities. The less predictable Monday night killing took place far from speedy access to interstate highways, and eyewitnesses told authorities they had license-plate numbers. But while people said they saw a man get out of a van, take aim, and shoot Mrs. Franklin, they could not provide a reliable composite sketch.


invasion preparation

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138 | Near the end of a successful push by TeamBush to convince legislators, allies, and international agencies to take a tougher approach to Iraq, the House of Representatives voted 296 to 133 to pass a resolution granting the president unilateral authority to take military action. The Senate later added its assent by a vote of 77 to 23. As he signed the resolution in an East Room ceremony, President Bush noted that Iraq has ignored UN mandates for almost 4,200 days. "For Iraq, the old weapons inspection process was little more than a game, in which cheating was never punished. And that game is over." The Pentagon issued orders to Army and Marine forces to deploy headquarters staffs to Kuwait to plan a conventional ground-force attack on Iraq. Navy and Air Force headquarters are already in place. Pentagon officials said the deployment order will shorten the amount of time required to prepare an invasion when President Bush wants to move.


bombing in bali

96 | In the worst attack on civilians since 9/11, a bomb exploded through a nightclub popular with foreign tourists on the Indonesian island of Bali. The blast killed at least 180 people, including Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, Norwegians, Italians, Britons, and Americans. A second bomb exploded almost simultaneously near a U.S. consular office in Denpasar, the capital of Bali, but no one was hurt. The bombings came on the second anniversary of the al-Qaeda attack on the U.S.S. Cole off the coast of Yemen that killed 17 sailors. Plastic explosive evidence suggested a link to the militant group Jemaah Islamiah, Islamic radicals with close links to al-Qaeda. "I think we have to assume it's al-Qaeda," said President Bush. The State Department had been warning the Indonesian government for weeks that Islamic militants might strike at American targets. After the attack in Bali, U.S. officials moved immediately to pull nonessential diplomats and embassy families from Indonesia.


desperate terrorists

92 | Although al-Qaeda's leaders are in hiding and its finances and communications have been slashed by the war on terrorism, American intelligence officials are warning that al-Qaeda is still lethal and may resort to attacks against "soft" targets. Moroccan and Saudi officials have reported that they prevented planned attacks on American targets in their countries. The radical Al-Jazeera satellite news service reported that it received another message from Osama bin Laden, a type-written letter purportedly signed by Mr. bin Laden. The letter takes credit for and congratulates those who carried out the suicide attacks against the U.S. Marines in Kuwait and a French tanker in Yemen, and claims the recent attacks prove al-Qaeda is far from finished. It follows two other communiques, one supposedly from Mr. bin Laden, and another from his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri. U.S. officials suspect those messages triggered the latest attacks.


countdown to nov. 5

54 | National media attention focused on Florida, where Democratic challenger Bill McBride has been cutting away at Gov. Jeb Bush's lead. Bush campaign officials were outraged over remarks by Rev. Victor Curry, head of the Miami NAACP, who used his talk show to claim the Bush family and the bin Laden family are business "partners" and war profiteers. "These people are on a neo-Nazi, right-wing mission against the American people ... a godless, wicked regime." Minutes later, Mr. McBride assured Rev. Curry that as governor, "one of the people I'm going to listen to is you." Meanwhile, Republicans are touting a big polling turnaround in the Missouri Senate race. Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan was leading 48 to 40 over former Rep. Jim Talent last month in a Zogby poll for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but the latest tick of that poll had Mr. Talent ahead 47 to 41. The poll showed that he had closed a 16-point gap among female voters and was now even.


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