CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 08, 2007
Autism is a newsworthy disorder because it afflicts so many children and disrupts their family life so profoundly. Nevertheless the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control was a thin reed on which to base grand coverage. Both ABC and CBS led with the accurate, but misleading, headline that the incidence of autism among children nationwide was higher than previously believed. In the scheme of things, the hike in the estimate, from 500K to 560K, was marginal--but autism was the Story of the Day anyway.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 08, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCAutism coverageCDC hikes incidence estimate to 560K child casesTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSAutism coverageMore services needed, early diagnosis essentialJon LaPookNew York
video thumbnailNBCCIA undercover agent's name leaked: perjury trialDefense uses NBC News TV clips to probe RussertKelly O'DonnellWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCNorth Korea develops nuclear weapons programState Department sees progress in Beijing talksAndrea MitchellState Department
video thumbnailCBSIraq: political coalition government under fireUS raids Health Ministry, arrests Sadrist leaderLara LoganBaghdad
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS military tries to pacify al-Anbar provinceMartha RaddatzIraq
video thumbnailCBSWinter weatherWarm lake waters produce heavy snow in Oswego NYKelly WallaceNew York State
video thumbnailABC
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Videostreams shared online in viral networksHS students upload real teachers behaving badlyNancy Weiner CordesNew York
video thumbnailNBCPlaymate Anna Nicole Smith dies, aged 39Found in her Florida hotel room, cause unknownMark PotterFlorida
video thumbnailABC
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Playmate Anna Nicole Smith dies, aged 39Was famous for her celebrity not her talentJohn DonvanWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
STATISTICS GENERATE HOOPLA Autism is a newsworthy disorder because it afflicts so many children and disrupts their family life so profoundly. Nevertheless the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control was a thin reed on which to base grand coverage. Both ABC and CBS led with the accurate, but misleading, headline that the incidence of autism among children nationwide was higher than previously believed. In the scheme of things, the hike in the estimate, from 500K to 560K, was marginal--but autism was the Story of the Day anyway.

NBC's Tom Costello and ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) took a news-oriented angle, examining the CDC's public health statistics. McKenzie called the new numbers, based on projections from a 14-state survey, "more alarming than the government ever recognized." While genetics may play a role, "this study did not attempt to find a cause," Costello told us. Part of the increased incidence is a function of the expansion of the neuro-developmental definition over the years. Boys are more likely to be afflicted than girls; children in New Jersey more than in Alabama or West Virginia, Costello added.

CBS led with a feature-style approach from its in-house physician Jon LaPook. The disorder "includes a range of symptoms, from subtle to severe, speech and behavior disabilities." He profiled an expensive specialist school in New York City with a long waiting list that helps children while they are still toddlers: "A huge problem is that children are being diagnosed too late." ABC also consulted its in-house physician Timothy Johnson (no link). He pointed out that the survey counts children: "What happens when they become adults and they are no longer serviced by the school system?"


MEET THE PRESS Having the inside track on the story, NBC chose to lead with the perjury trial of Lewis Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, as the prosecution rested its case. That inside track was the final witness against Libby, NBC's own DC Bureau chief Tim Russert. Kelly O'Donnell summarized her boss' testimony as the defense played clips of his own CNBC and MSNBC appearances against him to "suggest there was bad blood between Russert and Libby."

Then Russert (at the tail of the O'Donnell videostream) himself sat down with Brian Williams for a debriefing on his five hours of cross-examination: "It is a difficult position being in the news rather than covering the news." As the resident questioner on Meet the Press, Russert recalled Lyndon Johnson's dictum that it is easier to throw grenades than to catch them: "Was he right!" Then Russert recalled the life lesson of Sister Lucille, his seventh-grade parochial school teacher: "If you tell the truth, you only have to remember one story."


NUCLEAR BARGAIN In diplomatic news, only NBC assigned a reporter to the six-nation talks in Beijing over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Andrea Mitchell was not sent to China to cover the diplomacy: she reported on the "cautiously optimistic" US posture from the State Department. That optimism ran up against Mitchell's skepticism. The outlines of the deal Secretary Condoleezza Rice is offering to Pyongyang are too advantageous to North Korea: "Critics say the US could have had the same deal at less cost five years ago," if President George Bush had not nixed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's offer under the Clinton Administration. At the time, the Bush Administration claimed that "North Korea was cheating. Critics say that was based on flawed intelligence."


BAD HEALTH In Iraq, ABC's Martha Raddatz concentrated on military matters, CBS' Lara Logan on political affairs. Deputy Minister Hakim al-Zamili was arrested at the Health Ministry, accused of funneling funds to his political base (he belongs to Muqtada al-Sadr's radical Shiite bloc) and allowing its Mahdi Army death squads to operate in government hospitals and morgues. Logan noted that US forces did not ask permission from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki before arresting one of his ministers: "Top government officials are no longer protected."

Raddatz toured hot spots in al-Anbar province with USMC Gen Richard Zilmer. The province contains "almost every city and town in Iraq known for extreme violence…the heart of the Sunni insurgency." Zilmer relies heavily on Iraqi soldiers and police to back up US troops to pacify the province: "That has clearly not gone well in the past." She recounted one battalion of 800 soldiers in Ramadi: "Only 20 showed up."


WARM BUT NOT WARMING On Tuesday, ABC sent Good Morning America weathercaster Sam Champion (subscription required) to upstate New York to cover the lake effect snow. Now the other two networks have caught up, both showing the seven-foot accumulation in Oswego County caused by cold air passing over an unusually warm Lake Ontario. Unlike Champion, neither CBS' Kelly Wallace--"they are digging out and out and out…yet even this much snow is not a record here"--nor NBC's Peter Alexander--"forecasters are calling for two more feet over the next two days"--speculated that global warming may be a factor in exacerbating the lake effect.


BEHAVING BADLY Go on YouTube, suggested ABC's Nancy Cordes (subscription required), and one can find plenty of clips of teachers behaving badly in the classroom. This video, captured by students' cell phones, worried Cordes because it is an example of "disrespectful behavior" in contemporary society. Cordes seemed to be about to criticize teachers for their rudeness in cursing and screaming at their students. Not quite. Instead Cordes' target was those students for having the nerve to document bad classroom behavior by their pedagogues. Talk about blaming the messenger.


FAME! I WANT TO LIVE FOREVER And, lest we forget, former Playboy Playmate of the Year, billionaire's widow and Supreme Court plaintiff, Anna Nicole Smith was found dead in her Florida hotel room of as yet unknown causes at the age of 39. "All the major cable news networks switched over to non-stop live coverage this afternoon," announced NBC's Williams.

She was a celebrity--but a minor one. So NBC made a faulty news judgment in making her death the story. Mark Potter was in Hollywood Fla to detail its trivia: her hotel's name, the room number, the 911 call, the futile first aid attempts, the body's arrival at the hospital ER. CBS' Kelly Cobiella filed from Miami that "a private nurse found her in her room unconscious…in the past year her life seemed to be unraveling."

By contrast, ABC concentrated on Anna Nicole's life. John Donvan (subscription required) speculated on the question of what made her famous. Maybe it was inevitable that the last act in her life story would be "dramatic and media-frenzied and brightly lit…although the mystery really is Why?" She embodied a "peculiarly American kind of fame without obvious achievement…a kind of public and tabloid fascination out of all proportion to anything she had done." She figured out "how to get her 15 minutes and make it last a lifetime."


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 two examples included a major mideast development: Hamas and Fatah agreed to end their fighting and form a coalition government in the Palestinian territories…Gen George Casey was confirmed as the next Chief of Staff of the USArmy.