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     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 02, 2007
The state funeral for former President Gerald Ford brought all three network anchors to Washington DC for live coverage. Their evening newscasts offered a recap of the day's solemnities at the National Cathedral. With one more day of coverage still to come--his burial tomorrow in Grand Rapids--Ford's observances have already surpassed those for Ronald Reagan in minutes of coverage on the networks' nightly newscasts. No disrespect to the dead--but Ford's funeral has been overplayed.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 02, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93State funeral held at DC's National CathedralDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailCBSFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93State funeral held at DC's National CathedralKatie CouricWashington DC
video thumbnailABCFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Will be buried at museum in Grand RapidsDean ReynoldsMichigan
video thumbnailNBCFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Everyday Americans joined in mourningBob FawWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSFormer President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93His four children were thrust into spotlightThalia AssurasWashington DC
video thumbnailABC
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Former President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93Tribute by his S.Ct nominee Justice StevensJan Crawford GreenburgSupreme Court
video thumbnailABCIraq: Saddam Hussein's Baath regime aftermathGovernment vows to investigate gallows tauntsTerry McCarthyBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS plans 20K troop reinforcement to BaghdadJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailNBCCoal mine workplace safety rules strengthenedSlow implementation of new rescue proceduresTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSAlcohol: teenage drinking prevention effortsMajority of those who drink like to bingeSharyn AlfonsiNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING The state funeral for former President Gerald Ford brought all three network anchors to Washington DC for live coverage. Their evening newscasts offered a recap of the day's solemnities at the National Cathedral. With one more day of coverage still to come--his burial tomorrow in Grand Rapids--Ford's observances have already surpassed those for Ronald Reagan in minutes of coverage on the networks' nightly newscasts. No disrespect to the dead--but Ford's funeral has been overplayed.

Along with the two Presidents Bush and Ford's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, NBC's former anchor Tom Brokaw offered a eulogy at the National Cathedral on behalf of the White House press corps. "We are at our best when we come together on these occasions," he mused about the American people in general. "The streets along the motorcade route were lined with citizens, three and four deep," ABC's Charles Gibson (subscription required) observed. At the cathedral, "the theme of Ford's decency was what everyone stressed."

CBS' Katie Couric saw "a simple funeral--no horse-drawn caisson, no riderless horse, not a procession, but a motorcade." NBC's David Gregory disagreed. He called it "an elaborate farewell--for a modest man." That modest theme was echoed by mourners, NBC's Bob Faw found. Along with the political dignitaries, "everyday Americans respected, indeed identified with, this Accidental President…an uncommon commoner."


MICHIGAN BOUND Ford's body was flown to his Grand Rapids for burial on the grounds of his Presidential Museum. "No matter where he went, it always seemed as though he brought a piece of this town along with him," ABC's Dean Reynolds reflected as his university's football fight song Hail to the Victors was played.

The sight of Ford's four children "united elegantly in their grief" inspired CBS' Thalia Assuras to reflect on how they were thrust, "unexpectedly," into the White House spotlight more than 30 years ago: newlywed Michael tried to avoid publicity; Jack dated celebrities and smoked marijuana; Steven hit the rodeo circuit; Susan "held her senior prom at the White House."


GET ME REWRITE CBS included historian Douglas Brinkley as its in-house consultant. Brinkley is in the middle of a biography of Ford. Anchor Katie Couric asked: "Has anything changed that might alter the theme of your book?" "Absolutely. The country has voted and they believe that the pardon was the right thing to do. That was not always the case--back in 1974, in 1984, in 1994. But now we can say that history will show Ford was correct. He made the right decision."

Credit goes to Jan Crawford Greenburg (subscription required), ABC's legal correspondent, for snaring an Exclusive soundbite with mourner John Paul Stevens, Ford's lone nominee to the Supreme Court, still serving three decades later. Stevens was nominated as a "moderate conservative--but not any more." Today he is viewed as "one of Supreme Court's most liberal Justices." Stevens said: "I do not really think I have changed…I conceive of myself as a conservative, to tell you the truth." Ford said two years ago that he was "proud of the nomination."


INDIGNATION The execution of Saddam Hussein is now seen as an "act of crude vengeance," ABC's Terry McCarthy reported. "The anger is spreading." Protestors cited the rush to hanging and its timing, on the first day of Eid, the Moslem holiday. "Most provocative" was the taunting by guards loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and the illicit videotape from cellphones. "It is not so much the insults against Saddam himself but the implication that the Shiite government has so little regard for the Sunni community as a whole…Incredibly it has given new dignity in death to the former dictator."

There were six guards and 14 witnesses in the gallows room, of which only two had video cellphones: "They were high ranking officials," a prosecutor told NBC's Richard Engel. The video has so far received more than one million hits on YouTube. "The gallows are on a US military base and many in the region are blaming the US for letting this happen."

CBS analyst Fouad Ajami told Randall Pinkston that the execution amounted to a demonstration of independence by the Baghdad government and so was, "a day of deliverance, perhaps in an odd way, for the United States." Pinkston demurred. He, too, pointed out that the US "had custody of Saddam. If the US had not given him to the Iraqis, he would not have been executed."


RUNNING OUT President George Bush has now "all but" made his decision about future strategy in Iraq, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski told us from the Pentagon. This time next week he will announce a reinforcement of 20,000 combat troops for Baghdad. Miklaszewski's unnamed administration source told him: "This is more of a political decision than a military one. The American people have simply run out of patience and the President is running out of time to achieve some kind of success."


UNDERGROUND BOOM NBC's In Depth report marked the first anniversary of the Sago coal mine disaster in West Virginia. The twelve killed in that explosion were among a total of 47 mining deaths in 2006, the worst annual toll in eleven years. Tom Costello told us that while these are "boom times for the coal industry," mandated rescue improvements are being implemented only slowly. "Still not required are underground emergency safe rooms."


SMASHED STATS Author Koren Zailckas received plenty of free publicity for her memoir Smashed from CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi. Alfonsi used Zailckas' anecdotes to illustrate statistics from the Centers for Disease Control about teenage alcohol use. Zailckas told us of her love for Southern Comfort as a 14-year-old, her pumped stomach as a 16-year-old, her blacked-out first night of sex at age 19.

Alfonsi's use of the statistics was not as clear as it should have been: she cited the figure that 64% of teenage drinkers have "binged," defined as at least five drinks in a given session. She separated that from the statistic that 45% of teenagers are drinkers. Yet combining those two numbers together means that only 29% of teenagers have indulged in binge drinking, making Zailckas' tales atypical.


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: ABC mentioned the trip to South Africa by TV's Oprah Winfrey to build a school for girls--but that is hardly an example of undercoverage since a full report was promised for tomorrow…the protest by New Orleans policeman against the surrender of four of their colleagues on suspicion of murder was mentioned by CBS and NBC--but that is hardly an example of undercoverage after NBC's In Depth report by Martin Savidge yesterday…the loss of Rudolph Giuliani's playbook for a possible Campaign 2008 Presidential bid and the subsequent revelation of its secret details--that is a genuine candidate.