Reporting on the President's Troubles

I found the article "Character Gap Dogs Clinton" (Aug 3) objectionable for two reasons. First, it suggests that Clinton's guilt or innocence in the Lewinsky case is irrelevant. It posits that opinion polls related to his job-approval rating and his alleged "character gap" may mean the difference between impeachment hearings and a slap on the wrist.

The article succumbs to a very disturbing trend in journalism, namely, reporting based on opinion, not analysis and insight. Our nation is built on laws. Let us hope that whatever the outcome of Starr's investigation, its result is based on a functional legal system and not the whims of media polls.

Second, I find it highly objectionable that the final paragraph of the article compares Clinton's legacy to that of O.J. Simpson's. The person quoted in the article is a self-described business executive and registered Republican, who might have political motives to compare a standing Democratic president accused of perjury to a man accused of murder. But the Monitor colludes with that bias by closing the article with that analogy.

John Rogers

Iowa City, Iowa

This week's Time and Newsweek magazines descended very low in their coverage of the president's personal problems, while the Monitor has remained more civilized.

But, regretfully, the Monitor still treats the president as guilty until proven innocent. The headline "Why Clinton Urged to Clear Air" (Aug. 4) gives the distinct impression that there is something he can say to change everything. If he is innocent, then he has said all he can and there is no need for your story or headline. The story is based on his guilt, a trial in the press. Sadly, many in Congress also want him tried in the press.

Please refrain from using news analysis as headline news.

Thomas Gallant

Waldoboro, Maine

In religion, numbers don't count

I would like to question the value of your "Top 10 Organized Religions in the World" (Aug. 4). To give us raw numbers of "Christianity" or "Islam" does not tell us what kind of Christian or what kind of Muslim. What sort of Christians? How uniform or disparate are their practices?

When we are told about the enormous increase projected for Muslims, what kind of Muslims? Those Muslims living in the US are increasingly resembling Protestants or Reformed Jews as their children go to school with other Americans of other faiths. Islam in the US cannot possibly resemble Islam in the hands of the illiterate Taliban in Afghanistan. In the US, it is a religion without compulsion, a very different sort of Islam than in a state-run church.

As for Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, or Shintoism, who is counting? If the Japanese equally celebrate Buddhism, Shintoism, and Christmas, what are they?

For any survey of religious affiliation to be meaningful, we need more than raw numbers, and in a census of such personal matters, do people tell the truth?

Laina Farhat-Holzman

Aptos, Calif.

Texas geography - get it right

In the article "Texas Heat Even Warps Railroad Tracks" (Aug. 4), it repeatedly and inaccurately refers to events occurring in the Dallas area when, in reality, such events occurred in the Fort Worth, Texas, area, or at least, the Dallas-Fort Worth or North Texas area. Watauga is not a "Dallas area" suburb, but a Fort Worth suburb.

The Monitor would never refer to Baltimore as part of the Washington or Philadelphia area. So, then, why the lack of thoughtfulness and clarity in your story about Texas?

Joel Burns

Fort Worth, Texas

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