CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 29, 2006
Dawn sees the start of the Moslem holiday of Eid, a period of prayer and forgiveness during which executions would be sacrilegious. So Death Row watchers expected Iraq to hang its former dictator Saddam Hussein before sunrise. All three networks led with the Baath leader's looming date with destiny. However, with only expectation to report on, the execution did not qualify as Story of the Day. The continuing coverage of the death of Gerald Ford received most airtime.     
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 29, 2006: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: Saddam Hussein's Baath regime aftermathDictator expected to be hanged before dawnRichard EngelBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSIraq: Saddam Hussein's Baath regime aftermathRumors, controversies swirl around hangingRandall PinkstonBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCIraq: Saddam Hussein's Baath regime aftermathPresident Bush wants minor US role in executionKelly O'DonnellWhite House
video thumbnailABCFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Simple family funeral held at California churchBrian RooneyCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Simple family funeral held at California churchBill WhitakerCalifornia
video thumbnailABCFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Longstanding friend, ally of Richard NixonGeorge StephanopoulosNew York
video thumbnailNBCFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Criticized his GOP successors to NewsweekAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingOne-legged Mullah Dadullah leads resurgenceLara LoganNo Dateline
video thumbnailABCArctic Ocean ice cap warms, melts, shrinksEllesmere Island ice shelf breaks off into waterBill BlakemoreArctic Ocean
video thumbnailNBCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeCauses ice melts, droughts, botanical odditiesTom CostelloWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
NOOSE NEWS Dawn sees the start of the Moslem holiday of Eid, a period of prayer and forgiveness during which executions would be sacrilegious. So Death Row watchers expected Iraq to hang its former dictator Saddam Hussein before sunrise. All three networks led with the Baath leader's looming date with destiny. However, with only expectation to report on, the execution did not qualify as Story of the Day. The continuing coverage of the death of Gerald Ford received most airtime.

Baghdad was filled with "confusion and rumor with questions swirling," found CBS' Randall Pinkston. That was intentional, ABC's Terry McCarthy (no link) explained, because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "wants as few people as possible to know about the execution in advance." NBC's Richard Engel helped the judge who will supervise the execution "keep awake with strong coffee" while he awaited instructions to go ahead.

President George Bush "knows all about the plans," NBC's Kelly O'Donnell told us from the First Family's ranch in Texas, but he does not want to be obviously involved. The White House "wants this to be viewed as the work of the Iraqi government, as an example that Iraq is forming a new judicial system."

From the Pentagon, ABC's Jonathan Karl (no link) was skeptical that the hanging was such a big deal. "It is not that Saddam means much to the insurgents anymore. He does not," Karl shrugged. Saddam is "yesterday's man," ABC News consultant Anthony Cordesman told Karl. "The issues today have moved far beyond Saddam."


FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS The six days of funeral ceremonies for Ford commenced at his local parish, St Margaret's Episcopal church in Palm Desert, Cal. All three networks dispatched correspondents. "What a simple affair it was, for a man who did not stand on ceremony," ABC's Brian Rooney remarked. It was attended by "only family, for a private prayer service." The coffin will be available for viewing overnight. NBC's George Lewis expected thousands to attend.

CBS' Bill Whitaker looked forward to the Washington ceremonies. He repeated the anecdote that Ford and his successor Jimmy Carter joked that the survivor would speak at the other's funeral: "Carter will." The former Wolverine center preferred the Michigan football fight song to Hail to the Chief, Whitaker added. "The military band is to play a somber version."


POLITICAL IS PERSONAL When Ford granted that pardon to his predecessor Richard Nixon, it was not a purely political decision, ABC's George Stephanopoulos revealed, it was personal too. Ford, a Congressional colleague of Nixon from the 1940s, called Nixon "a treasured friend." Ford told The Washington Post's Bob Woodward that he considered himself to be Nixon's "only real friend." Concluded Stephanopoulos: "This cuts against the conventional wisdom that this was just a relationship of political convenience."

Ford was less enthusiastic about his Republican successors, according to NBC's in-house historian Michael Beschloss, who previewed a Newsweek interview with Ford for Andrea Mitchell's In Depth report. Ford was "sure" that he could have beaten Carter if Ronald Reagan had agreed to campaign for him in Ohio, Louisiana and Mississippi in 1976. He "knows damn well" that George Bush, the father, is pro-choice on abortion, despite his public pro-life stance. And Ford felt "uncomfortable" at the GOP's rightward drift at the 1992 Convention.


KILLER MULLAH CBS claimed an Exclusive for its footage to the one-legged Mullah Dadullah, "the Taliban's most bloodthirsty commander," according to Lara Logan. In his camp along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border Dadullah boasted: "In every province, district and village, the believers have risen in revolt against the enemies of Islam." Dadullah massacred so many civilians during the Afghan civil war, Logan recalled, that Taliban leader Mullah Omar "relieved him of his command." Since the Taliban was ousted from power, Dadullah has been put back in charge, leading its rebuilding efforts.


BREAKS THE ICE For his winter treat, ABC has sent Bill Blakemore north to the Arctic Ocean. Wednesday he covered the threat to the polar bear species while perched on an ice floe. Now he was on open Arctic water to report the collapse of a 41-square-mile ice shelf into the warming ocean off Ellesmere Island, 500 miles from the North Pole. "New shipping lanes are melting open--the fabled Northwest Passage connecting the North Atlantic to the Pacific sought by explorers since Sir Francis Drake and Henry Hudson."

NBC'S Tom Costello chose an annual overview of global warming trends. National temperatures were two degrees warmer than normal, contributing to drought, forest fires and heatwaves. He showed us a premature DC Mall: "Irises, that are supposed to bloom in the spring, are now completely confused."


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 saw just one example: the anti-trust approval of the telecoms merger between AT&T and BellSouth.