Martha Brant

Stories by Martha Brant

  • A Family's Secrets Roil The Right

    To Hillsdale College, a tiny private liberal-arts school in rural Michigan, George Roche III was a kind of cult figure. Tall and charismatic, the school's president had transformed Hillsdale from a third-rate party school into one of the country's most respected and well-endowed small colleges. Roche preached family values and fed his students a heavy diet of classics and morality, a combination that made him a darling of political conservatives. So Hillsdale's 1,200 students were stunned when Lissa Roche, a college employee and the wife of George Roche's namesake son, killed herself last month. Three weeks later the school president resigned the position he had held for nearly three decades. Roche claimed he was leaving the school for family and health reasons--he has diabetes--but the circumstances were far more sordid. As first reported by the National Review, hours before taking her life Lissa Roche had confronted her husband and admitted she had been having an affair for nearly...
  • Al And W?S Balancing Act

    Al Gore minced no words. The situation was too dire. Bill Bradley was coming on like a freight train, and every labor leader in the living room knew it. They were gathered secretly on a recent Friday night in a leafy Maryland suburb of Washington at the home of John Sweeney, president of the 13 million-member AFL-CIO. The guests were "IPs" (international presidents) considered "soft" by the Gore campaign--that is, wavering on endorsing him for the Democratic nomination. The vice president had stopped arguing that his victory was inevitable, or that he would necessarily be the stronger candidate in the fall of 2000. Instead, with Sweeney at his side, Gore was reduced to making a tribal appeal: you owe me. "I've been there for you," he told them. "Now I need you. Will you be there for me?"We'll see. In Los Angeles this week, the AFL-CIO meets to decide whether to come to the rescue of Gore's faltering candidacy, or hold off making an endorsement--and deal him a crippling blow. In...
  • Why Al's Going South

    The coronation strategy was not working, and Al Gore knew it. For months his advisers and pollsters had mistakenly told him that he could ignore Bill Bradley's challenge and inherit the Democratic nomination by playing it safe. But polls showed Bradley pulling even with Gore in key primary states like New Hampshire and New York, and matching up better against GOP front runner George W. Bush in November. Gore's money-raising machine was slowing down, while Bradley's was picking up. Both campaigns had about the same amount of cash, but Gore was spending more lavishly on high-priced consultants and fancy office space on K Street, the lawyer-lobbyist corridor in Washington. All Gore was buying was the image of a boring Washington insider.Last Monday night Gore summoned his media adviser, Carter Eskew, and his campaign manager, Tony Coelho, to his Washington home. With Tipper by his side, the vice president told his aides that he was moving the campaign headquarters to Nashville. The...
  • Senator Springer?

    They laughed when Jesse Ventura, the pro wrestler who favored feather boas and pink tights, ran for governor in Minnesota. Now they're howling at the idea that TV talk-show host Jerry Springer--the maestro of "Stripper Wars" and "I'm Sleeping With My 13-Year-Old's Ex"--is toying with a run for the U.S. Senate from Ohio. But "we're not kidding," says Tim Burke, head of the Hamilton County Democratic Party in Cincinnati. He is pushing Springer, an old pal, to run against the straitlaced Republican incumbent in 2000. And Springer is letting the trial balloon float while he vacations incommunicado abroad.Springer does have a legitimate political resume. Before he became "Jer-ree! Jer-ree!" he was Gerald Norman Springer, a campaign worker for Robert Kennedy and a popular '60s liberal in Cincinnati. As a city councilman in the Vietnam era, he proposed declaring the draft illegal within city limits. His star fell after police raiding a massage parlor found his personal check to a...
  • A Cup Full Of Cash

    When Marla Messing began organizing the 1999 Women's World Cup three years ago, it seemed like a modest endeavor. Women's sports--particularly that other "football"--were not on Americans' radar screens, let alone their TV screens. So Messing, the tournament's CEO, began with a budget just one twentieth the size of the men's World Cup, and she planned to hold the women's games at small East Coast college stadiums. But then the nation was introduced to the all-American girls at the 1996 Olympics, where the U.S. soccer squad proved to be photogenic, personable--and, unlike the men's team, gold-medal winners. Since then, women's pro basketball has drawn crowds, women's tennis has dwarfed the men's in popularity and soccer has increased its standing as the sport of choice for nearly 8 million mostly suburban girls. Now the Cup, which begins June 19, will play in oversize venues from Giants Stadium to the Rose Bowl, with all 32 games televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. And Messing's once...
  • Last Chance Class

    Aaron Patterson was never one to walk away from a fight. The Illinois death-row inmate admits that back in the '80s, when he was the feared leader of Chicago's Apache Rangers, plenty of his street gang's enemies learned just how relentless he could be. Patterson's stubborn streak was still on display in 1989, when he was condemned to die for the murder of an elderly couple: he kept shouting in the courtroom that the cops had tortured a confession out of him. "You're holding me for a murder I didn't even do!" he yelled at the judge. For 10 years on death row, Patterson, 34, kept mouthing off--producing pamphlets, recording audio tapes, haranguing lawyers and writing to newspapers and anyone else who might listen to his claim that he didn't kill Rafaela and Vincent Sanchez. One of his letters reached Prof. David Protess at Northwestern University.The journalism professor shares the prisoner's flair for getting attention. The 53-year-old teacher is something of a celebrity after...
  • Bad Bet: A Fixer And His Losses

    Kevin Pendergast wore no. 12 when he kicked the winning field goal for Notre Dame in the 1994 Cotton Bowl. Five years later he got a new number: 11057424. Those eight digits were his federal prison ID while he served two months for conspiring to fix three Northwestern University basketball games. Pendergast went from college football's most hallowed field to cleaning latrines in an upstate New York penitentiary. "I was out of control," Pendergast told NEWSWEEK last week, shortly after his release from prison.Pendergast, who turned 28 in the medium-security jail, says he hears it all the time: what's a nice kid like you doing in a mess like this? Where Pendergast grew up in suburban Connecticut, gambling was in the air, from the state Lotto to the casinos run by Native Americans. Betting sports was Pendergast's "itch"; in high school, he ran a $2 NCAA basketball pool. At Notre Dame, the marketing major learned about point spreads and over/under bets. Pendergast used to get so nervous...
  • And Now The Pitch...

    For Leonard King, the phone is a potent weapon. As dean of seniors at Maret, a prestigious private school in Washington, D.C., he's the vital link between the country's most elite colleges and anxious applicants. While college admissions committees draw up their acceptance lists, King networks nonstop. A few weeks ago, he listened as an Oberlin College admissions officer gave him an early read on Maret's applicants. When she told him that Megan Colletta was "between a yes and a waitlist," King went into battle. He praised Megan's volunteer work with street children in Cambodia and described her as an "intellectual risk taker," stressing that he had given her his "highest recommendation"--uncommon praise from King. Finally, he dropped what he hoped would be the clincher: Oberlin is one of the girl's top two choices. "The colleges want the best matches, and so do we," King explains. "I don't say every kid is perfect for a school."As applying to college gets more competitive,...
  • 'I Belong On That Team'

    DEBBIE KELLER FELT JILTED ON Valentine's Day. Her boyfriend got her a sweet card. He even surprised the sunny 23-year-old with a visit from out of town. But as one of the world's top women soccer players, Keller wanted to be living it up with the U.S. women's national team. They were in San Francisco, enjoying an elegant hotel, signing autographs for young fans. Almost everybody in the soccer world had expected Keller to be there, too. But while the other players basked in the attention, Keller was home in suburban Chicago, having been cut from the team during tryouts in December. ""While they're training, I'm here in the snow,'' she says. ""I belong on that team.'' ...
  • The Real Scandal

    The greatest threat to international sport isn't payoffs in Salt Lake. It's "doping,' the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. Do officials turn a blind eye?IT STARTED TO GO WRONG FOR FRENCH cyclist Erwan Mentheour between Paris and Nice, when race officials tapped him for random drug testing. Just before the 1997 competition, he had taken erythropoietin (EPO), an anemia drug that increases the number of red cells in the blood and thus an athlete's endurance. MenthEour's trainer and doctor swung into action, desperately trying to thin out his blood before he gave a blood sample. They started an IV drip of chilled glucose. They bled him. But still he tested positive. He was thrown off the racing circuit--but not for long. He claimed that his red count seemed high not because he'd taken EPO but because he had had diarrhea and was dehydrated. MenthEour was back on his wheels in two weeks. In fact, his excuses were all a sham: for almost as long as he'd been racing, MenthEour...
  • Of Priests And Peacocks

    For days I waited in the July heat for the corpse of Mexico's most powerful drug lord to arrive at his mother's compound. Amado Carrillo Fuentes had died after undergoing massive reconstructive facial surgery and liposuction to hide his identity. Finally, after the government finished slicing him open and running DNA tests, he was to be buried at the family crypt in Guamuchilito, Sinaloa. I didn't expect to get invited to the funeral. But with the threat of a military raid, the press were special guests: human shields. Peacocks and deer wandered around their private zoo. Big Chevy Suburbans with tinted windows were scattered around the grounds. The sashes on dozens of wreaths had been snipped off so as not to identify the mourners. One of them read, simply: ""From a friend.'' But it was the normality that was truly astonishing. The priest in his purple robes was readying his sermon. Townspeople sauntered down the road to show their respect and eat barbecue. I found myself chatting...
  • Liposuctioned To Death

    AMADO CARRILLO FUENTES WASnicknamed ""the capo without a face'' because police didn't know exactly what Mexico's most powerful drug boss looked like. But when the 41- (or maybe 42-) year-old drug trafficker suddenly died of heart failure after eight hours of plastic surgery and liposuction, his face was beyond recognition. The tip of the nose looked like it had been snipped off. The eyelids were purple with bruises and scarred by surgical incisions. The chin had been reshaped with a surgical implant, sliced open during the autopsy and hastily stitched back together with thick white thread. Carrillo's body looked withered, partly because several liters of fat had been sucked out of him. Still, his mother identified the corpse as that of her eldest child. ""Yes, it's my son,'' Aurora Fuentes told reporters. ...
  • Hopeful In Tijuana

    When doctors in Los Angeles told Pat Paulsen they couldn't cure his colon cancer, he did what any comedian might do, he laughed them off. Fed up with conventional medicine, the TV comic followed a well-worn path to one of about 35 alternative clinics just across the border in Tijuana. The doctor he found - who asked the Paulsens not to name him - said he could beat the disease. Paulsen began the latest in live-cell therapy: an injection made from the embryo of a blue shark. He started to feel better and even talked about writing a new book: "Pat Paulsen's Book of Malignant Humor." But his immune system was wrecked, and last month he died of pneumonia after surgery. ...
  • Most Wanted Kingpin?

    When soldiers combed Mexican drug czar Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo's plush apartment on Feb. 22, they found cellular phones with scramblers, $10,000 in U.S. currency and a particularly revealing tequila barrel. Attached to its top was a picture of a napping peasant wearing a sombrero. Above the quaint scene was a name: AMADO CARRILLO. That Mexico's top drug cop had tequila from the private stock of the country's most powerful drug lord shouldn't have come as a surprise to the cops. The two, after all, had apartments just four floors apart. ...
  • A Defector In The Drug War

    GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY WAS ALL smiles as he received his Mexican counterpart--drug czar Gen. JesUs GutiErrez Rebollo--in Washington in late January. The U.S. drug czar had met the 42-year army veteran on a visit to Mexico and hailed him as ""a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity.'' McCaffrey liked the idea of linking arms with another military man across the Rio Grande to fight drug traffic from Mexico--the country that is a conduit for nearly three fourths of America's cocaine. On GutiErrez's trip to Washington, he was treated to briefings everywhere from the White House to the DEA; back in Mexico City, it was even better. According to State Department officials, U.S. drug agents there gave GutiErrez information on America's paid informants and classified intelligence about Mexico's drug cartels. ...
  • Hillary's Second Term

    FINALLY, THE LAST CAMPAIGN HER HUSBAND WILL EVER RUN IS OVER. AND NOW Hillary Clinton is on the cusp of deciding whether she's going to launch a final crusade of her own, one aimed at redeeming her reputation. The First Lady isn't content with taking foreign good-will missions, harvesting money from loyal Democrats and getting rapturous welcomes from carefully chosen crowds. She wants affection from the American public, or, failing that, at least a sympathetic understanding that she's not the monster who sprang full born from Rush Limbaugh's forehead. ...
  • Getting Ready To Leave The Nest

    THE FIRST LADY SAYS IT WAS HER most trying moment of this volatile election year -- and it didn't have anything to do with Whitewater. Mrs. Clinton says that the ""toughest'' test she's faced was college night at Chelsea's high school. As her daughter becomes a senior at Washington's Sidwell Friends this week, Mrs. Clinton says she has severe ""pre-empty-nest syndrome.'' She's even talked about adopting another child to fill the void. ""You feel so old,'' she told party members in Chicago about the mixed emotions of looking at colleges. ""Your child looks so independent.'' ...
  • Cashing In On Letting Hillary Be Hillary

    IT WAS A DEFT MANEUVER. When Hillary Clinton presided over a luncheon for Senate wives at the White House in June, Elizabeth Dole was among the guests. As the hundred or so spouses turned to their chilled carrot-and-ginger soup, Mrs. Clinton stood to wish Elizabeth a fond welcome. She was sure, she said, smiling, that the two would conduct themselves with ""good grace and civility.'' ...
  • Pool Sharks

    SWIMMING: The Irish woman was a surprise, the American a record breaker. Both smelled gold in the water.THEY ARE AN UNLIKELY PAIR OF POOL SHARKS. ONE, an asthmatic who never swims with more than two thirds of her lung capacity. The other, an international sensation at 26, an age when most world-class swimmers have left the pool. Amy Van Dyken of the United States swims for health, for glory and to help exorcise the demons of an adolescence when she was too tall, too awkward, too nerdy. Michelle Smith of Ireland went abroad for college, for training and for love, and now finds herself a national hero. Together the two women won seven gold medals last week in the fast waters at Georgia Tech, the most exciting Olympic combo since Mark Spitz and his ego in Munich.Smith's performance was the stunning surprise. And in today's swimming world, there is no such thing as a pleasant one. Going into the Games, Smith was ranked 41st in the world in the 400-meter individual medley. Last week she...
  • Doped To Perfection

    FROM THE bleachers it may look like pure glory. But from the athlete's perspective, qualifying for the Olympic Games resembles nothing so much as a prison drug raid. ""It's tremendously embarrassing,'' says U.S. national-team oarsman Ty Bennion. ""You've just given the performance of your life. Your family and friends think you're going off to sign some sort of official documents. But you're headed off to the bathroom so that two International Sampling Officers can watch you pee into a cup.''Drug use is nothing new in Olympic sports; Soviet weight lifters discovered the benefits of steroid hormones back in the 1950s, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been trying since the late '60s to enforce bans on various chemical aids. In recent years, most sports federations have instituted year-round spot-testing programs in an effort to keep competitors clean. Yet with every advance in pharmacology, the opportunities for cheating grow richer. The chemical arsenal now includes...
  • Saint Teresa's Trials

    HEIRESS TO A $700 MILLION KETCHUP fortune, Teresa Heinz has been called "Saint Teresa" for contributing to various causes, particularly the environment. Not surprisingly, she is also used to getting her way. She wanted the offices of her foundation in Pittsburgh to be environmentally correct. So all the wood in the building was "sustainably harvested" in places like Papua New Guinea "to support local tribes where forests are preserved with full biodiversity." The paint was custom-mixed "to eliminate fungicides and biocides." No expense was spared, and "nothing was final until she was happy," said her architect, William McDonough. ...
  • A Chelsea Morning

    GRAMMY-WINNER SHERYL CROW WAS there. So was stand-up comic Sinbad. But on a muddy day in Bosnia last week, it was a quiet girl with corkscrew red hair who ran away with the show. "Your name is Chelsea?" Sgt. Maj. Jack Tilley, the master of ceremonies, asked coyly as he called her onstage before 1,000 listless soldiers. "Something like that," the girl said smartly. Tilley had already tried--and failed--to rally the troops by leading them in a war chant. So he turned to Chelsea and asked her to help with a yelp. The 16-year-old took the microphone and wailed, "Hoo-ah!"--the lusty military cheer--with the gusto of a fire-breathing recruit. Then to get the crowd really going, she did it again. ...
  • Hillary Clinton: First Fighter

    Long infused with missionary zeal, Hillary Clinton is determined to do good as she sees it--at virtually any cost. But will her campaign for children be overshadowed by scandal?
  • Towns To Unions: Drop Dead!

    The taxpayers in the split-level town of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., were fed up. Money had been hard to come by since IBM pulled 12,000 jobs out of the Hudson Valley. And a looming $100 million budget that included $10 million in union teacher raises meant citizens would be saddled with a 20 percent tax increase. Voters revolted, rejecting the budget three times in a row on the ground that teachers, who average about $48,000 a year, were getting too much. The state finally forced the town to pay up. So homeowners pay their taxes--and resent mightily having to run car washes to pay for sports programs and clubs. "Raises were fine when everybody was working," said Charlene Hover, whose husband was forced into early retirement by IBM. "But now? Too bad." ...
  • The Alaskan Assault

    For environmentalists, preserving Alaska's Tongass National Forest has long been a sacred cause. R is the nation's last rain forest and home of the continent's largest population of grizzlies and bald eagles. The greens have also worked for years to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the country's biggest wildlife refuge and calving ground for 150,000 migrating caribou. But last week, the Senate passed a bill that will allow loggers to clear-cut swaths of the Tongass, while committees in both houses have voted to let oil companies drill in the pristine ANWR. Alaska Rep. Don Young, a hot-tempered former trapper, has a new name for the preserve: the "Arctic Oil Reserve." ...
  • Coming Of Age

    Imagine, if you possibly can, what it's like to be John F. Kennedy Jr. You're 34 years old, not married, still looking for a career. Your mother, who protected you perhaps a little too well, has been dead for about a year. You tried being a lawyer, but it was pretty dull. So you've decided to start a political magazine called George. Never mind that 90 percent of all start-up magazines fold, and that there hasn't been a commercially successful political magazine in this century. You've always cared about politics and public service even if you're not absolutely sure you could name all the members of the president's cabinet. The executives of Hachette Filipacchi, a media conglomerate, believe in you. Or did they offer to invest $20 million for your mythic name and overexposed pectorals?Resisting such doubts, you're sitting in the Adcraft Club of Detroit on an April morning getting ready to pitch your new magazine, watching the good crowd- 1,900 people, a few hundred less than the...
  • A Hip Mag For The C-Span Set

    JFK Jr's New Magazine, George, will try to make celebrities out of ordinary politicos and backroom operatives. But it won't poke into their private lives. It won't have a partisan edge, or tackle tough issues, or try to break news. It will be a kind of high-road fan magazine--Rolling Stone for the C-Span crowd.Trying to interest the public in politics is a worthy goal. But does it make for a hot magazine? Advertisers rushed to fill the roughly 300-page first issue, 500,000 copies of which arrive at newsstands in late September. The reason, of course, is John F. Kennedy Jr. When Kennedy and his partner Michael Berman made a pitch to 150,000 potential customers, a healthy 5.7 percent responded when they stressed Kennedy's connection. That's twice the normal response.Still, there is no shortage of skeptics. With Clinton's election in 1992, there was a brief spurt of interest in politics, says Eric Alter-man, author of "Sound and Fury," a book on pundits and politics. But "the bubble...
  • Still In The Line Of Fire

    President Clinton was discussing the budget with aides in the White House residence late one night when a gun went off outside, about 20 yards from the East Wing. Breaking into the meeting, a Secret Service agent rushed to the window and dosed the drapes. There's been a security breach, the agent reported, and "someone's down." Staffers in the room were alarmed. Congressional lobbyist Pat Griffin looked as if he wanted "to lunge under the couch," said one aide. But Clinton was oddly blase. He asked if everyone was OK, then returned to the budget. "Let's keep moving," he said.Has Clinton gotten that accustomed to bullets whizzing around the White House? Given recent history, perhaps he has. Last week's gunfire came when the Secret Service wounded Leland Modjeski, who scaled the fence with what turned out to be an unloaded revolver--the latest in a series of attacks (chart). Just days earlier, at Clinton's direction, police had closed the two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of...
  • Politics: Gen X's Dynamic Duo Flames Out

    When Jon Cowan and Rob Nelson arrived on the Washington scene three years ago, the capital fell in love. The two twentysomethings were idealistic, savvy and cute--a cross between Robert Kennedy and Kato Kaelin. They formed a group called Lead . . . Or Leave, challenging members of Congress to cut the deficit-or get out of town. One hundred and one lawmakers took the pledge. Ross Perot praised the pair's spunk. U.S. News & World Report put them on its cover, hailing them as "the vanguard of the twentysomething backlash." ...
  • What About Women?

    It wasn't much of a march on the White House last Wednesday -- two dozen leaders of women's groups and their staffs. The chants carried the ring of a bygone era. ""Hey hey, ho ho, discrimination has got to go!'' But their protest went to the heart of a debate that threatens to divide the country. Affirmative action, they argued, is being defined -- and demonized -- by its opponents as a racial issue. For black civil-rights leaders, the women were a welcome sight. Faced with a hostile Republican Congress, and a president desperate to win back the so-called angry white males who abandoned the Democratic Party last November, affirmative-action proponents are struggling to shift the terms of the turbulent national debate from race to gender. Their most important ally could turn out to be the Angry White Female. ...