CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 10, 2007
The nightly newscasts functioned as the pre-game show to President George Bush's primetime TV address to the nation on his new policy for Iraq. The build-up to the speech dominated all other content: its 35 minutes of coverage represented 61% of the three networks' newshole--with a further 11 minutes for related military features. As intensive as this pre-speech coverage was, it lagged behind the 44 minutes afforded to the report of the Iraq Study Group last month. It was a report, CBS' Gloria Borger reminded us, whose recommendation for a troop withdrawal has been flatly contradicted by the President.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 10, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPresident Bush speech will admit failuresDavid GregoryWhite House
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPresident Bush speech will admit failuresMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesISG report proposals almost entirely ignoredGloria BorgerWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesCongressional leadership briefed, unimpressedChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesNew military plan for Baghdad neighborhoodsJonathan KarlBaghdad
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Military personnel face family, personal problemsFort Bragg families adjust to sudden deploymentErin HayesNorth Carolina
video thumbnailCBSMilitary personnel suffer mental health problemsFemale support troops are vulnerable to PTSDLee CowanTexas
video thumbnailCBSUSMC officers are trained as leaders in combatExpeditionary Warfare School learns Iraq lessonsByron PittsVirginia
video thumbnailNBCUSArmy rocket-grenade interceptor procurement disputeUS-made prototype favored over Israeli systemLisa MyersWashington DC
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Poverty: federal minimum wage increased debatedAlmost 6m would benefit, small business hurtDean ReynoldsChicago
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
PRIMETIME ADDRESS PREVIEWED The nightly newscasts functioned as the pre-game show to President George Bush's primetime TV address to the nation on his new policy for Iraq. The build-up to the speech dominated all other content: its 35 minutes of coverage represented 61% of the three networks' newshole--with a further 11 minutes for related military features. As intensive as this pre-speech coverage was, it lagged behind the 44 minutes afforded to the report of the Iraq Study Group last month. It was a report, CBS' Gloria Borger reminded us, whose recommendation for a troop withdrawal has been flatly contradicted by the President.

All three newscasts led with their White House correspondents' preview of the speech. NBC's David Gregory and ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) both focused on Bush's contrition. "The President will admit, simply, that his strategy in Iraq has not worked," Gregory declared. "The President will essentially admit his Iraq security strategy has failed, a strategy he has been touting for over a year," was how Raddatz put it.

As for the substance of his plan, the two main points are his decision to deploy more troops and his pressure on the Iraqi government, CBS' Jim Axelrod (no link) told us. "The President is going to put Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on notice that America's patience is running out and that it is time for the Iraqi government to perform," he reported. "Bush knows that he is trying to sell something most Americans and many of his own commanders do not support--more troops to Iraq."

ABC's Raddatz spelled out what Bush has demanded of al-Maliki: "to crack down on Shiite militias, especially radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr." She reported that al-Maliki has responded to Bush: "I swear to God I am not going to let al-Sadr run this country." A White House aide registered "a lot of skepticism" about that pledge: al-Maliki's government "has failed so many times in the past."

As for what is not in the speech, CBS' Gloria Borger reminded us that the ISG report suggested "talking to Iraq's neighbors. That is an idea the President has so far ignored." Far from diplomacy, NBC's Gregory noted, the US is being confrontational. A second aircraft carrier group is being sent to the Persian Gulf region "to reassure Arab allies about any future threat from Iran."


NAME THAT SOURCE The President briefed the top TV anchors in person about what he was going to say. NBC's Brian Williams and Tim Russert (no link) were explicit that they had sat down with Bush himself. CBS' Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer (no link) repeated that old euphemism "senior administration officials."

It was clear that Schieffer's "officials" were the Commander in Chief himself. Russert recounted what Bush told him he said to al-Maliki: "My neck is on the line. If you lose Bush, the primary benefactor of this war, you are in grave straits." Schieffer used this formulation: "Putting his neck on the line, was the way it was described…We heard that senior official briefing. There is no question that President Bush is fed up with this Iraqi government…He said it in even tougher language to the Iraqis. This is your turn. You have got to do this or you are going to risk losing the support of your main benefactor, George Bush."

Russert also recounted this conversation with White House "advisors:" "What if this surge-escalation does not work? What is Plan B? The response: We are not answering that."


AFTER THE FACT In addition to the anchors, the President also briefed Congressional leaders. NBC's Chip Reid characterized Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid as "highly perturbed when they left the meeting--they were consulted by the President only after the speech was written." ABC's George Stephanopoulos conducted a head count and estimated that "there are majorities in both Houses of Congress against the President's policy." NBC's Reid agreed: "Non-binding votes opposing any troop increase are expected to pass."


CONFLICTED So what is actually going to happen on the ground in Baghdad? ABC's Jonathan Karl filed from Camp Victory, the US military base at the Baghdad Airport. He told us that US forces in the city would be doubled to nine battalions by adding 17,500 more soldiers. Each battalion will be assigned to one of Baghdad's nine districts, which it will patrol with an Iraqi army battalion and an Iraqi police battalion. "The idea is for US and Iraqi forces to become a more integral part of Baghdad neighborhoods," Karl explained. "This will likely mean more US casualties in the short run."

ABC also returned to Jack Keane, the retired general who has the confusing dual role of advising the President to order this deployment and consulting for ABC News about how to analyze the advice he has just had accepted. This is how he interpreted his own plan: "Most of 2007 we will spend securing Baghdad and literally getting it under control in a way that we have never had before. In 2008 we will be able to go to al-Anbar and do the same mission there--secure the population."

It is always bad journalism to use the word "we" to refer to any institution other than the news organization doing the reporting. Keane may or may not be giving good advice to the President. The quality of his consultation for ABC News falls short of professional standards.


MILITARY SNAPSHOTS Those auxiliary military features included CBS' Lee Cowan at Fort Hood on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He found that female soldiers are vulnerable to PTSD, even though, by law, they are confined to a support role rather than battlefield combat. As many as one third of the women returning from Iraq report symptoms of mental illness: "Hardest is the transition from soldier back to mother and caregiver."

ABC continued its occasional series on The Homefront by sending Erin Hayes (subscription required) to Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne. Those soldiers are rapid-reaction troops so they do not have orderly schedule for deployments. Wives and children and fiancees always have to be ready to say goodbye at the drop of a hat. "They shipped to Kuwait last week. They had been given about a week's notice…Uncertainty is hard."

And CBS assigned Byron Pitts to file part three of its weeklong Honor & Sacrifice series. He visited the Expeditionary Warfare School at Quantico Va where Marine Corps officers are taught combat leadership techniques. Pitts profiled lecturer George Schreffler, now a major, who had been covered by Pitts himself as a captain back in 2003 on the road to Baghdad. Schreffler's rule of thumb for performing properly on the battlefield: "There are no particular pats on the back for doing things right."


PROCUREMENT WARS Yesterday Lisa Myers questioned the USArmy's refusal to deploy an Israeli-manufactured rocket-grenade interceptor called TROPHY. Today's NBC News Investigates follow-up explained that military brass preferred to wait for a Future Combat System, which is still under development by Raytheon, a US-based manufacturer, even though the army's own weapons testers recommended TROPHY. Myers reported that an army colonel threatened a navy engineer who gave TROPHY the thumbs-up "to be careful" and "vowed to take down" the system's key supporter inside the Pentagon.


NO HITCH FROM HIKE All three networks mentioned in passing that the House of Representatives approved a pay raise for federal minimum wage workers from an hourly $5.15 rate to $7.25 to take effect in 2008. Only ABC assigned a reporter, Dean Reynolds (subscription required), who took A Closer Look. He reckoned that 5.6m workers will benefit from their first increase in a decade, "a fraction of the overall workforce." Reynolds checked with the experts: "Raising the wage is unlikely to hurt the overall economy."


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 represented a sprinkling of trivia to leaven the sobriety of Iraq: the race horse Barbaro has an infection in his unbroken leg…Yvonne de Carlo, grande dame of the TV sitcom The Munsters, is dead, aged 84.