CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 29, 2006
How newsworthy was the summit between President George Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki? In a throwback to Cold War coverage of superpower diplomacy, all three network anchors jetted to Amman to observe crucial talks on the war in Iraq. King Abdullah II invited the two leaders to dinner to start their meeting. The President showed up--but the Prime Minister stayed in his hotel room.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR NOVEMBER 29, 2006: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPM al-Maliki cancels pre-summit Bush dinnerDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPM al-Maliki cancels pre-summit Bush dinnerMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailNBCIraq: political coalition government under fireParliamentary bloc of 30 withdraws supportRichard EngelAmman
video thumbnailABCIraq: political coalition government under fireParliamentary bloc of 30 withdraws supportTerry McCarthyAmman
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesMilitias intimidate newly trained police forceMark PhillipsAmman
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS plans to increase Baghdad troop levelsDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesThousands forced to flee Baghdad for AmmanCharles GibsonAmman
video thumbnailCBSIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesThousands forced to flee Baghdad for AmmanKatie CouricAmman
video thumbnailNBCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesThousands forced to flee Baghdad for AmmanBrian WilliamsAmman
video thumbnailNBCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeEPA sued at Supreme Court to issue regulationsPete WilliamsSupreme Court
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
AL-MALIKI STIFFS BUSH How newsworthy was the summit between President George Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki? In a throwback to Cold War coverage of superpower diplomacy, all three network anchors jetted to Amman to observe crucial talks on the war in Iraq. King Abdullah II invited the two leaders to dinner to start their meeting. The President showed up--but the Prime Minister stayed in his hotel room.

Each newscast led with its White House correspondent's analysis of the false start. NBC's David Gregory was blunt with Amb Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy to Baghdad: "Do you really expect people to believe this was not a snub?" "Oh, absolutely." And ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) called it "a huge embarrassment" especially when the canceling foreign leader has "150,000 of your troops in his country." The White House "insisted that Bush was not snubbed," CBS' Jim Axelrod noted.

All three agreed that al-Maliki's no-show was spurred by a pair of factors: political pressure back home in Baghdad and the leaking of an insulting White House memo by NSC Advisor Stephen Hadley.


NO PRIDE The Hadley memo called al-Maliki either an ignoramus or a liar or an incompetent--our paraphrase of the actual bureaucratic language: "either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient." NBC's Gregory found the timing "striking" that the White House, normally so good at preventing leaks, would find its memo in The New York Times. His colleague Richard Engel found it no surprise that the White House miscalculated: US diplomats and soldiers have consistently misunderstood the importance of "Iraqi pride."


MILITIALESS As for the politics in Baghdad, by merely showing up in Amman, al-Maliki has lost a governing majority. The bloc of 30 votes controled by Muqtada al-Sadr has left his coalition in protest. NBC's Engel mused that al-Sadr sees al-Maliki as "weak and wants him dependent on him for survival." The refusal to dine with Bush is "indicative of how beleaguered he feels," according to ABC's Terry McCarthy. He lacks clout too: al-Maliki is "the only Iraqi politician, even within his own party, who does not have a militia," USNavy Professor Vali Nasr told McCarthy.

Militias are also the reason why the police academy in Amman has failed to train a functioning Iraqi police force, CBS' Mark Phillips told us, despite 40,000 graduates. A trainer, his identity disguised, called militias "the main enemy…they control everything." Cops are afraid to enforce the law because they, and their families, suffer reprisals by militias linked to any suspect they arrest. So far 2,600 cops have been killed.


ZALMAY RESPONDS Ambassador Khalilzad sat down with all three networks. ABC's Raddatz and NBC's Gregory folded the diplomat's soundbites into their reporting. CBS' Katie Couric allowed her q-&-a to stand as a separate item. She asked his assessment of al-Maliki's grasp on power: "He faces a huge challenge," itemizing threats from sectarian violence, terrorist attacks, independent militias, regional powers. "I feel his pain."


MORE OR MORE OF THE SAME? As far as the fighting on the ground is concerned, CBS' David Martin reported that the US military plans to deploy 3,500 extra troops in Baghdad, a move that the Mahdi Army will view as a "deliberate provocation," according to his colleague in Baghdad, Elizabeth Palmer. From the Pentagon, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski predicted that troop levels will be increased by 20,000 by extending some tours of duty and accelerating other deployments.

ABC's Charles Gibson (subscription required) orchestrated a strategy session entitled Mission: Iraq What's Next before he left New York with a pair of ABC News analysts, journalist Fareed Zakaria and retired general Jack Keane, and diplomat Richard Haass, now at the Council on Foreign Relations. Gibson laid out three options: troops reinforcements, stay the course, a military pullout schedule. "Bottom line, there is no good option," smiled Gibson after five stark minutes of q-&a.


LITTLE BAGHDAD Amman is now home to tens of thousands of Iraqi expatriates, fleeing the sectarian violence. Each newscast ended with an anchor's eye view of their plight. ABC's Gibson concentrated on the ethnic cleansing that drove Sunni Arabs away: "There is a real hell in Baghdad," Mustafa, the husband in a mixed Sunni-Shiite marriage, explained. NBC's Brian Williams noted the boom times in the Jordanian capital as the elite of Baghdad escaped with wealth intact while CBS' Katie Couric commented on the wider Iraqi diaspora: the wealthy may end up housed in Amman; poor refugees survive in tents in Syria and Egypt.


EXHAUST So much time on Baghdad left little time for other news. ABC assigned Barbara Pinto (subscription required) to the ruthless downsizing at Ford Motors: in all, 38,000 union workers have accepted buyouts. And NBC sent Pete Williams to the Supreme Court where the EPA is defending a lawsuit demanding that it regulate automobile-produced carbon dioxide as a pollutant because it causes global warming.


MENTIONED IN PASSING The network newscasts do not assign correspondents to all of the news of the day. If Tyndall Report readers come across videostreamed reports online of stories that were mentioned only in passing, post the link in comments for us to check out

Today's examples: Fidel Castro is too sick to attend his own 80th birthday party in Havana…Pope Benedict XVI is continuing his visit to Turkey…Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has thrown in the towel instead of his hat into the ring: he is not running for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008.