CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 19, 2006
Overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers--pills like aspirin, Tylenol, Excedrin, Aleve and Advil--kills 16,000 people each year nationwide, according to CBS. Take too many and your liver can fail or your kidneys or your stomach can bleed. The FDA now proposes to slap a prominent mandatory warning label on the products. All three networks deployed their in-house doctors to explain the problem--and the Story of the Day was the lead on ABC and NBC.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 19, 2006: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSPain relievers sold over-the-counter: safety warningFDA proposes mandatory overdose-risk labelsBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCPain relievers sold over-the-counter: safety warningAcetaminophen, aspirin can cause organ damageNancy SnydermanNew York
video thumbnailABC
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Skin cancer coverageSquamous cells are less serious than melanomaJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailCBSUSArmy is almost fully deployed, needs extra forcesPresident Bush agrees to troop-level expansionDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCUSArmy is almost fully deployed, needs extra forcesPresident Bush agrees to troop-level expansionJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailABCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesChristian minority escapes feuds for KurdistanTerry McCarthyIraq
video thumbnailCBSIraq: post-war reconstruction effortsElectricity grid is vulnerable to sabotageRandall PinkstonBaghdad
video thumbnailABCMount Hood climbing trio trapped by blizzardOregon does not restrict winter expeditionsNeal KarlinskyOregon
video thumbnailNBCViolent crime rate increases: FBI statisticsUpsurge in drugs, guns, teenage violencePete WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailABCFish farms redesigned to be more eco-friendlyDeep water farm off Puerto Rico breeds cobiaJeffrey KofmanPuerto Rico
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
OVER-THE-COUNTER OVERDOSES Overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers--pills like aspirin, Tylenol, Excedrin, Aleve and Advil--kills 16,000 people each year nationwide, according to CBS. Take too many and your liver can fail or your kidneys or your stomach can bleed. The FDA now proposes to slap a prominent mandatory warning label on the products. All three networks deployed their in-house doctors to explain the problem--and the Story of the Day was the lead on ABC and NBC.

ABC and CBS both assigned a reporter to give us the regulatory background to the FDA's decision before they turned to their doctor's bedside advice. ABC's David Kerley (subscription required) cited "pressure from the drug companies" as the reason why the FDA did not act years ago. CBS' Bob Orr stated that pain-relief overdoses cause 700 emergency room admissions each day nationwide.

NBC went straight to the physician. Before she returned to network journalism, NBC's Nancy Snyderman had been the public relations voice of Johnson & Johnson. She complimented herself on her former employer's handling of safety issues.

Dr Timothy Johnson of ABC (no link) pointed out that "the real danger" lies in the fact that these medicines are not only available in the pills themselves, but are often an unmentioned ingredient in other products. Dr Jon LaPook of CBS (no link) warned Tylenol users that "the liver is a very unforgiving organ. You only have one liver."


SQUAMOUS It was a heavy day for health coverage, as pain pills were followed by news that First Lady Laura Bush had a minor skin cancer removed from her shin. CBS was the only network to cover the tiff at the White House about whether it was appropriate to keep mum about the procedure. Jim Axelrod (no link) explained the Bush line: "This was not Nancy Reagan's or Betty Ford's breast cancer--but a smaller private medical matter, more like the 'flu."

All three networks followed up with the FAQs of skin cancer. ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) reassured us that her squamous cell was "not as serious as a melanoma." Such cells, caused by skin damage from the sun, are diagnosed 200,000 times a year yet end up killing only 2,000.


BIGGER AND BIGGER CBS decided to lead with military matters. In an interview that President George Bush granted to The Washington Post, he conceded that the USArmy and the Marine Corps were too small for the tasks he had assigned them as Commander in Chief. A larger ground force "is a total reversal of the Pentagon's former policy" under Donald Rumsfeld, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski pointed out.

Making them bigger, however, will be a slow and expensive proposition, CBS' David Martin warned: the army can only expand at the rate of 7,000 soldiers annually, at a cost of $840m. He predicted more generous "financial incentives for signing up" to lure in new recruits.


DONALD’S DREAM It was a frequent Rumsfeldian complaint about the news coverage of Iraq--subscribed to last week by the First Lady on MSNBC--that its relentless emphasis on deaths in combat created a false impression. If non-combat stories were filed instead, Americans would have a more positive view, he implied.

Well, Rumsfeld got his wish. There was no Iraq combat coverage. Instead ABC's Terry McCarthy went to a peaceful enclave in Kurdistan and CBS' Randall Pinkston reported on the reconstruction efforts on the electricity supply.

Pinkston told us that electricity is worse than ever. Baghdad averages only three hours of power each day and two provinces have no electricity whatsoever. Of the nine major national power grid lines, seven do not work. The power system, based on oilfield generating plants "hundreds of miles away" from population centers, is ripe for sabotage, Pinkston explained.

McCarthy profiled a minority Christian community living in the mountains close to the Syria-Turkey border. The church had originally been based in Baghdad but was "caught up in a war where religion is a matter of life and death." The Christians plan to return once peace is restored.


UPDATES Yesterday's Story of the Day--the search for lost climbers on Mount Hood--is winding down as a new winter storm is moving in. ABC's Neal Karlinsky took A Closer Look, noting that, despite the cost of the rescue operation, Oregon puts no limits on mountaineering, even in the depths of winter. "Protect my right to do stupid things," a rescue volunteer pleaded.

Also yesterday, we wondered whether the causes of the upsurge in violent crime had been summarized comprehensively by ABC's Pierre Thomas. NBC's Pete Williams chimed in with his anecdote-filled version, covering many of the same trends--mid-sized cities, armed teenagers, emphasis on Homeland Security--but he added the trade in illegal drugs as another factor.


LIFE AQUATIC Watch out for cobia as the newest fish dish at your local restaurant. ABC's Jeffrey Kofman gave us the heads up. As wild fisheries get depleted, as much as 40% of the fish in our diet is farmed--but most farms pollute the coastal ecosystem, with too many fish, too much fish food, and too much fish excrement in shallow waters. Cousteau-like he showed us scuba shots of a newly designed deep-water fish farm off the Puerto Rican island of Culebra where the currents are strong enough to wash pollution away. The fish are fed with down a 90-foot long tube with organic pellets--and the species is cobia.

No word on how farm-raised cobia tastes.


WHY IS ANYBODY COVERING THIS? Lee Cowan (no link) caught the short straw. He was the only network correspondent assigned to cover the Story From Hell. How could anybody make Donald Trump's publicity stunt over the Miss USA pageant enlightening, interesting--or even entertaining.

"Bible Belt beauty" Tara Conner had apparently had too much to drink and had too much sex--but Trump forgave her anyway and Tara burst into tears. CBS' Cowan was righteously perplexed: "Just when did we arrive at the point when Donald Trump is judging the moral standards of beautiful young women?"


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: inflation accelerates by a whopping 2% at wholesale in November…Vice President Dick Cheney will testify in the trial of his former aide Lewis Libby over the affair of the spilled CIA secrets…reconstruction has finally begun at the World Trade Center site in New York City.