A major consequence of the midterm elections for the networks' news agenda is that Capitol Hill will become a dynamic dateline. A Democratic majority can hold hearings, dig up dirt, challenge policies, confront the White House--all the raw material of headlines. Today was a case in point. CBS led with hearings on Iraq and NBC with hearings on global warming. Global warming was Story of the Day.    
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video thumbnailNBCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeWhite House interfered with federal scientistsAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSenate mulls no-build-up vote, funds cut-offSharyl AttkissonCapitol Hill
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Iran military expansion feared in Persian GulfTeheran accused of spreading munitions to IraqJonathan KarlPentagon
video thumbnailCBSSyria-Iraq diplomacy makes progressDamascus seeks to mediate between Baath, SadrElizabeth PalmerDamascus
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Bush Presidency second-term agenda progress reportDiscusses economy, globalization, health, IraqBetsy StarkIllinois
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Automobile industry in financial troubleMassive layoffs create insecure mood in DetroitCharles GibsonDetroit
video thumbnailNBCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeCalifornia vineyards face disruption from heatMike TaibbiCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSCoastal waters pollution problemsToxin algae bloom poisons birds, sea lionsBill WhitakerLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCStonehenge monument in England archeology studyNearby village excavated by National GeographicLester HoltEngland
video thumbnailCBSPublic school meals, junk food, nutrition issuesCafeterias found unsanitary, with vermin tracesSharyn AlfonsiConnecticut
THE HILL IS THE NEW SPIN ZONE A major consequence of the midterm elections for the networks' news agenda is that Capitol Hill will become a dynamic dateline. A Democratic majority can hold hearings, dig up dirt, challenge policies, confront the White House--all the raw material of headlines. Today was a case in point. CBS led with hearings on Iraq and NBC with hearings on global warming. Global warming was Story of the Day.

A House panel provided the forum for research by the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled Atmosphere of Pressure. It charges that 150 federal climate scientists "personally have experienced political interference" to spin the facts from George Bush's White House, ABC's Jake Tapper reported. NBC's Andrea Mitchell fingered a "former oil industry lobbyist working for the White House" for watering down reports. Philip Cooney "then left to work for ExxonMobil. He refused to talk to NBC News." The White House denies such interference.

NBC followed up with an In Depth example of the long-term impact of a changing climate. Mike Taibbi told us that grapevines are to a greenhouse gasses as canaries are to coalmine gasses. "Too much heat for too long upsets the delicate balance of sugar and alcohol and acid needed to produce great wine." He took us to a vineyard in Lodi Cal operated by the fifth generation of the Lange family. At the current rate of change, their land will be too hot and too dry to make fine wines within 25 to 50 years and the California wine industry will be confined to the cooler valleys near the Pacific shoreline.

CBS did not assign a reporter to the global warming hearings. However Bill Whitaker began a two-part environmental feature, dubbed Troubled Waters, into ever-larger neurotoxic algae blooms in coastal waters off California. Whitaker illustrated how animals can get "whacked out on acid" with clips from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. The toxin is called domoic acid. It enters the food chain as an invisible bloom but is powerful enough to drive birds mad--and hundreds of mammals as large as 400lb sea lions. By the way, Whitaker compared sea lions, too, with canaries in a coal mine.

MEET THE NEW BOSS CBS led with Sharyl Attkisson's report that "nerves were raw all over Capitol Hill" on Iraq in hearing rooms and lobbysists' hallways. She detected an approaching "historic intersection, a possible confrontation with the President over his power to make war" as Sen Russ Feingold took testimony on the legality of Congress voting to cut off funds for war.

The Senate Armed Service Committee questioned Adm William Fallon, nominated to be the new head of the Pentagon's Central Command, which controls all US forces in the entire region. NBC's Chip Reid aired the admiral's views on the President's troop reinforcement for Baghdad: "I have not gotten into the details of these plans…I will better be able to give you an informed answer when I understand the situation there." That pending debate in the Senate on a resolution to oppose the build-up has been postponed by a procedural maneuver by Republicans to buy more time, CBS' Bob Schieffer added. Nevertheless, "something is going to pass, just how critical it is going to be we do not know yet."

IRAQ’S NEIGHBORS For the third straight weekday, minor details were reported about Iran's military influence inside Iraq. Yesterday, CBS' Pentagon correspondent David Martin listed the Teheran-made munitions that had been found in Iraq.

ABC's Jonathan Karl (subscription required) showed us videotape from the Sunni radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sunnah that purports to show a Shiite militiaman from the Mahdi Army with munitions marked with Iranian Ministry of Defense logos. As for US intelligence, they had "planned to publicly present the evidence against Iran as early as tomorrow but those plans were abruptly scrapped today raising questions as to just how convincing the evidence is."

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski obtained access to "secret military reports" investigating last week's ambush in Karbala that killed five US soldiers. They concluded that "it may have involved Iranian agents…because it was so well laid out and meticulously executed." Suspicions that Iran is arming Shiite militias with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles are "being greeted with a great deal of skepticism, especially on Capitol Hill."

CBS examined Iraq's western border in an Exclusive from Damascus by Elizabeth Palmer. Syria has been hosting talks for various blocs in the Iraqi political power struggle, including the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Palmer sat down with Vice President Farouk al-Shara to inquire if Damascus was attempting to make itself indispensable to Washington. "We do not want to exaggerate our role--but it is important," the diplomat understated. The United States, "so far is not interested," Palmer pointed out.

HIGH FINANCE ABC also filed an Exclusive, by business correspondent Betsy Stark (subscription required), which led its newscast. She landed a ride on Air Force One with the President for a q-&-a ostensibly about the economy. But Bush answered Stark's inquiries about globalization and free trade and jobs and middle class confidence with an answer about Iraq. "We are in a time of war. War is unsettling. War is negative."

CAR CULTURE ABC's Charles Gibson (subscription required) anchored from Detroit for the second day of Running on Empty, his examination of the plight of the domestic auto industry. This time his focus was on the cloud of insecurity that envelops the city because so many thousands of workers have been laid off or bought out. A college training course for 16 nurses was oversubscribed by 250 former auto workers. "The car companies were the bedrock. That is just not true anymore."

The flip side of Detroit's coin is the advance of Toyota. ABC's Dean Reynolds (no link) offered the latest example: Camry has an entry in the once all-American Daytona 500 stock car race. The Japanese carmaker is building a test track near Charlotte NC and its chief sponsor is UPS. Lead driver Dale Jarrett is American, not Japanese: "He received hate mail for making the move from Ford" penned by nativist NASCAR fans

AGED STONES Normally Ned Potter, at ABC, has an inside track on the latest footage from National Geographic. Recently he has filed stories on their footage of triplets in the womb and their collaboration with Quest Network's global study of cultures that foster longevity. Sure enough, when National Geographic archeologists uncovered the remains of a village that was linked to England's Stonehenge complex, Potter prepared a report--but anchor Gibson told us it would not be broadcast; it is only available online.

The broadcast honors went to Lester Holt, who filed NBC's closer from England. He told us that the villagers who built Stonehenge lived high on the hog--there were plenty of animal bones from a meat diet. A two-mile 4,600-year-old avenue from the village of Durrington Walls to Stonehenge has been excavated, "perhaps the oldest roadway in Europe." The stone circle is thought to have been used for midwinter funeral ceremonies.

SLOPPY Features about Sloppy Joes and cute schoolchildren disinclined to eat their greens are almost always fun. But Sharyn Alfonsi's latest contribution was thin as gruel. Ostensibly reporting on low standards of cleanliness and vermin control in school cafeteria kitchens, Alfonsi did give us the statistics--seven out of 20 districts tested were given failing grades by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. But do those flaws have much consequence? Fewer than 800 actual occurrences of food poisoning are reported each year even though 29m meals are served each day nationwide. The cafeteria in Connecticut Alfonsi chose as the location for her report has a clean bill of health. In the good old days, Alfonsi concluded, "the only really scary thing in the school cafeteria was the mystery meatloaf," without presenting any evidence that today's hygiene is any worse.

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 lone example: as feared, more than 50 Shiite pilgrims were killed in Iraq while observing the holy day of Ashura.