CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 06, 2006
The release of the report by the Iraq Study Group grabbed huge headlines. All three networks sent their anchors to Washington DC to cover the ISG press conference and to interview the co-chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton. The report characterized the situation in Iraq as "grave--and deteriorating." The question of what US policy should be in Iraq occupied fully 78% of the three-network newshole.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 06, 2006: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesIraq Study Group sees deteriorating crisisDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesProspects for implementation of ISG reportAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesIraq Study Group calls for overhaul of diplomacyJonathan KarlCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesIraq Study Group calls for overhaul of diplomacyJim AxelrodWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesSunnis fear security forces as Shiite frontLara LoganWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesIraq Study Group calls for new military roleDavid MartinPentagon
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS military in Baghdad reacts to training roleDan HarrisBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUSArmy trains would-be trainers as embedsByron PittsKansas
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Kenya education: grade schools are open to adultsIlliterate villager, aged 86, is in third gradeKate SnowKenya
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
GRAVE--AND DETERIORATING The release of the report by the Iraq Study Group grabbed huge headlines. All three networks sent their anchors to Washington DC to cover the ISG press conference and to interview the co-chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton. The report characterized the situation in Iraq as "grave--and deteriorating." The question of what US policy should be in Iraq occupied fully 78% of the three-network newshole.

NBC emphasized how tough the report was on the Bush Adminstration. David Gregory called it "a harsh review" of George Bush's leadership and "a rejection" of his claim that the US is winning the war. Tim Russert picked out the word "dire," adding that the "grimness of the report" was heard throughout official Washington. And Andrea Mitchell summed up the reaction of the Democratic leadership in Congress: "We told you so."


ANCHOR AVAILABILITIES CBS' Katie Couric (no link) asked the most pointed questions of the two chairmen. She reminded Hamilton that Bush had pledged to keep US troops deployed in Iraq indefinitely. "Is the President's guarantee wrongheaded?" "That is not the way to phrase it," Hamilton demurred, while agreeing. Couric asked Baker about the report's laundry list of proposals. "Is it possible that even if all 79 recommendations are implemented this thing is lost?" "There is no guarantee of success."

NBC's Brian Williams focused on the civic crisis that Iraq represents for the United States. He quoted Hamilton's declaration--"Our Ship of State has hit rough waters"--and called it "almost heartbreaking." As for the President, Williams wondered whether Baker was not asking him "to do a 180 on more than one issue, some of his basic tenets?" "Presidents have done 180s in the past," the former Secretary of State and former White House Chief of Staff replied.

ABC's Charles Gibson concentrated on Iraq instead. "Do you honestly think that the very deep Sunni-Shia-Kurd divisions can be overcome with a central Iraqi government?" he asked Hamilton. "We do not know for sure."


TALK TO ENEMIES The ISG report offered both military and diplomatic proposals. ABC's Jonathan Karl (subscription required) was struck by the sweep of the latter. Diplomacy with Iran and Syria and talks with Mahdi Army militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr would represent "a complete overhaul of US foreign policy in the Middle East." He zinged the State Department for its staffing of the embassy in Baghdad. Of 1,000 Americans working there, "six speak Arabic fluently."

CBS' Jim Axelrod also picked up on the Iran-Syria proposal. He reported that the supposed allies are backing different sides in Iraq's burgeoning civil war: "Iran is believed to fund and arm Shiite militias; Syria supports the Sunnis."


NON-PULLOUT PULLOUT On the military side CBS' David Martin examined the plan to pull combat troops out of Iraq in early 2008. He noted that alternatives were not really viable anyway: "There are not enough troops for a major buildup" and the current 150,000-or-so troop levels are "adversely affecting" military preparedness. Martin warned that even if this "combat" pullout were implemented, "tens of thousands" of troops would remain in Iraq as military trainers and anti-guerrilla commandos.


TRAINERS So CBS and ABC both scrutinized the feasibility of the proposal to train an Iraqi Army. In Baghdad, ABC's Dan Harris (subscription required) surveyed soldiers in a USArmy Stryker Brigade and found "stark pessimism" that anything could prevent a "fight to the finish" in a Sunni-Shiite civil war. They told him it was "unrealistic to hand over security to Iraqi forces loyal, not to the nation, but to their religious group." But the army is going ahead with its training program anyway, CBS' Byron Pitts told us from Fort Riley, where would-be trainers undergo a 60-day course in "linguistics, culture, counterinsurgency." The plan is that every Iraqi military unit of 500 will end up with eleven Fort Riley graduates as embedded comrades.


SO WHAT? So will the President take the ISG's advice? ABC's Martha Raddatz (no link) noted the fact that the report offered no timetable for immediate withdrawal: "That makes the White House very happy." However, "I doubt very much he will adopt the entire report." Over at CBS, Bob Schieffer (at the tail of the Lara Logan video stream) was of the opposite mind: "He is not going to say he is adopting these recommendation but that is exactly what you will see happen," he predicted. "At this point he has no other choice."


ROLE MODEL On a completely different topic, ABC's Kate Snow (subscription required) went to Kenya, where the government has mandated universal education for illiterate adults. But one village school thought that 86-year-old Kimani Nganga Maruge was joking when he applied to join classes. They turned him away four times until the semester started--and he turned up in the shorts of a boy's school uniform. "He had never even held a pencil" until he enrolled. "Now he wants to study for his Ph.D."


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: Scotland Yard's decision to designate former spy Alexander Litvinenko formally as a murder…An explosion of an industrial propane tank in a Milwaukee factory that killed three…The possibility that there is life on Mars, as new pictures may show surface water.