The confirmation hearings for Robert Gates, nominee for Defense Secretary, were the Story of the Day. Even though the hearings were held on Capitol Hill by the Senate Armed Services Committee, each network assigned its lead coverage to its Pentagon correspondent.    
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video thumbnailCBSDefense Secretary Robert Gates nominationSenate confirmation hearings focus on Iraq WarDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesBaghdad neighborhoods ethnic cleansing proceedsElizabeth PalmerBaghdad
video thumbnailABCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesEyewitness describes escaping kidnap-executionDan HarrisBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCPalestine refugee camp in Lebanon breeds militancyYouth trains for suicide bomb attacks in IraqRichard EngelLebanon
video thumbnailNBCRussia espionage: former spy poison murder probeScotland Yard faces obstacles in MoscowNed ColtMoscow
video thumbnailABC
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Mothers of newborns suffer post-partum depressionJAMA studies incidence in first-time mothersJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailCBSMedicaid program abuses: nursing home overchargesOmnicare pharmacy accused of drug billing fraudArmen KeteyianWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCNASA plans renewed manned missions to moonProposes lunar base by 2024, en route to MarsTom CostelloWashington DC
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Oregon wilderness traps family car for nine daysMother, children survive; husband goes missingNeal KarlinskyOregon
video thumbnailABCHunting and outdoor sports trendsColorado trains women to join bird shootsBill RedekerColorado
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 were not exactly earth-shattering: former President George Bush bursts into tears during a speech…the USS Interpid floating museum finally gets freed from the mud of the Hudson River…dietary trans-fats are banned from restaurant food in New York City.

PENTAGON’S NEXT BOSS The confirmation hearings for Robert Gates, nominee for Defense Secretary, were the Story of the Day. Even though the hearings were held on Capitol Hill by the Senate Armed Services Committee, each network assigned its lead coverage to its Pentagon correspondent.

Gates' key soundbite was the admission that the US is "not currently winning" the war in Iraq. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski called it a "sharp departure" from the Bush Administration's current line. ABC's Jonathan Karl (subscription required) pointed out Gates' later clarification: "We are not losing either." CBS' David Martin heard Gates' "bluntly criticize" his predecessor's policies: a shortage of US occupation troops, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and the purge of the Baath Party.

EYE OF THE TIGRIS ABC and CBS both followed up with updates on the sectarian violence in Iraq. CBS' Elizabeth Palmer gave us the overview of "deeply divided" Baghdad. Ethnic cleansing is driving Sunnis to western neighborhoods, Shiites to the east of the Tigris River. There are "true front line" neighborhoods, with nightly mortar fire exchanged between militias in Kadimiyah and Adhamiyah. And there is even a division of tactics: death squad executions in the west, high-impact bomb attacks in the east.

ABC's Dan Harris offered a specific case: a Shiite farmer survived a round-up, kidnapping and execution in the town of al-Hadf when his blood-spattered blindfold fooled his captors into believing he was one of the 28 left for dead in a marsh. His tribe "may have to take matters into their own hands," Harris warned. He called it "an unstoppable round of religion-fueled revenge."

DEATH CAMP Meanwhile in Lebanon, NBC's Richard Engel grabbed Exclusive access to the Ain al-Helweh refugee camp, where 80,000 Palestinians live on a single square mile. The residents are not allowed to return to their homeland by Israel and they are not granted work permits by Lebanon. Engel found that they turn to militancy instead--"one of the world's biggest al-Qaeda breeding grounds"--raining suicide bombers for deployment in Israel and Iraq. The bombers are "the local heroes here."

FROM RUSSIA The other major international story was Scotland Yard's investigation into the poisoning death in London of the former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. NBC's Ned Colt was in Moscow, where detectives want to question another former spy Andrei Lugovoi. "Russia warned that it would conduct any interviews. The British could sit in." Colt listed other suspects: Litvinenko's contact Mario Scaramella, expatriate billionaire Boris Berezovsky, a rogue group of spies, even the Kremlin itself. Colt quoted President Vladimir Putin's dismissal of such suspicions: "Nonsense."

PARTUM & MORTEM A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association was picked up by both ABC and NBC. It found a high-incidence of post-partum depression among first-time mothers. ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) calculated that two weeks after childbirth, "massive hormonal changes," plus sleep deprivation, make them seven times more likely to be mentally ill than other women. ABC's in-house physician Timothy Johnson (no link) insisted on competent mandatory mental health screening for all mothers of newborns.

CBS' Prescription for Saving series focused on healthcare at the other end of the human lifespan…actually beyond the other end. Armen Keteyian revealed that Omnicare, the $2.1bn-a-year pharmacy chain that sells prescription drugs to nursing homes, stands accused of defrauding Medicaid in Michigan by continuing to supply pills to patients, even post mortem.

MOONSTRUCK Only NBC assigned a correspondent to detail NASA's scheme (no cost estimate attached) to build a manned base camp on the south pole of the moon by 2024. Tom Costello showed us NASA's animated imaginary version of its base and told us its policy explanation: "It is simply in our DNA." As NASA Administrator Michael Griffin put it: "The space program is about American presence on the frontier of our time. And I think that is crucial."

GREAT OUTDOORS More Earthly adventures appealed to ABC, which concluded its newscast with a pair of outdoor stories from the great American west. Neal Karlinsky (subscription required) helicoptered over the "vast rugged terrain" of the Oregon mountains to recount the ordeal of the Kim family, snowbound in a stationwagon in the forest for nine days until mother and two daughters were rescued. The children, aged four years and seven months, were kept alive by the mother's breast milk. The father, 35-year-old James Kim, is missing.

The women of Colorado are being trained to use shotguns, Bill Redeker told us. The popularity of the bird shoot is in decade-long decline, so the state is boosting numbers by recruiting female hunters. Instructors say women take to killing game easily: "They tend to be easier to teach. There is not that need to show off bravado that men have."