CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 15, 2007
This was one of those trivial days when the Tyndall Report saves everyone else plenty of time. There was so little serious news--tainted peanut butter! new laser baldness remedy! closted gay hoopsters!--that anyone who missed the networks' newscasts missed very little. The Story of the Day was the aftermath of the big storm that blew through New England. All three networks led with the disruption it caused--a 50-mile traffic jam on a Pennsylvania Interstate and interminable flight delays at JFK Airport--but neither amounted to the sort of major hard news to warrant leading a newscast. They were human interest anecdotes of inconvenience, the sort of tale that is usually reserved for the closer.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 15, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailABCWinter weatherBlizzard causes 50-mile traffic gridlock in PaDan HarrisPennsylvania
video thumbnailNBCWinter weatherIce strands ten jetBlue planes on JFK runwayTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingGuerrilla leader escaped from Bagram AFB prisonBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesHouse proposal to impose obstacles to build-upSharyl AttkissonCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS troop build-up contrasts with pre-war plansMartha RaddatzBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSPeanut butter recall announced for salmonellaTaint traced to ConAgra factory in GeorgiaMark StrassmannAtlanta
video thumbnailNBCBaldness and hair loss remediesFDA approves laser comb to prevent thinningRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailNBCNASCAR suspends auto racing crews for cheatingFuel additives found in Michael Waltrip's ToyotaMartin SavidgeAtlanta
video thumbnailABC
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Professional sports have few uncloseted gay athletesEx-NBAer comes out in book, attracts insultsJohn BermanNew York
video thumbnailCBSTeenage insults, abuse, rumors exchanged onlineThreatening behavior is dubbed cyberbullyingDaniel SiebergNew Jersey
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
ANECDOTES OF INCONVENIENCE This was one of those trivial days when the Tyndall Report saves everyone else plenty of time. There was so little serious news--tainted peanut butter! new laser baldness remedy! closted gay hoopsters!--that anyone who missed the networks' newscasts missed very little. The Story of the Day was the aftermath of the big storm that blew through New England. All three networks led with the disruption it caused--a 50-mile traffic jam on a Pennsylvania Interstate and interminable flight delays at JFK Airport--but neither amounted to the sort of major hard news to warrant leading a newscast. They were human interest anecdotes of inconvenience, the sort of tale that is usually reserved for the closer.

ABC sent Dan Harris to survey the "frozen parking lot" called I-78. Tractor trailers had jack-knifed and stalled while climbing an icy hill preventing all traffic behind from passing. As the jam backed up the snowfall intensified. "The plows simply could not get through." Cars and trucks were stuck for "as long as 22 hours" in sub-freezing conditions overnight. "Drivers put their cars in park and prayed," as CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi put it. Motorists had to eat snow to stay hydrated. Truckers invited motorists into their heated cabins to stay warm. Volunteers used all-terrain vehicles to bring food and water to those waiting. NBC's Rehema Ellis called it "an unimaginable standstill."

The ice on the Kennedy Airport runways was a public relations disaster for jetBlue Airlines. "Jet Black-and-Blue," as CBS' Alfonsi dubbed the carrier, dispatched ten of its jets to take off, expecting the icestorm to abate. When it did not, terminal gates were no longer open to let the passengers off. ABC's David Muir (subscription required) explained that by the time slots opened up, the planes were immobilized because their wheels were frozen. Hundreds of passengers were trapped in the cabins for as long as eleven hours: "They could see the terminal but they could not get there," NBC's Tom Costello commented, "miserably hot and stuffy with only chips to eat."


JAILBREAK Turning to what hard news there was, when President George Bush warned that Taliban guerrillas were planning a spring offensive in Afghanistan, ABC's Brian Ross offered an update on the fighting there. He identified abu-Yahya al-Libi as a new field commander of guerrilla forces. The US had arrested al-Libi eighteen months ago but he escaped from the "heavily-fortified US military prison" at Bagram Air Force Base. Now al-Libi is thought to be preparing his spring offensive at an al-Qaeda base in Pakistan.


BUILD-UP BEGINS The reputed leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq is abu-Ayyub al-Masri. NBC's Jane Arraf reported that he had been injured in an ambush near Fallujah. Arraf said the fighting involved Iraqi police and it is "not clear" whether it was connected to the just-beginning US military build-up in Baghdad. She followed troops as they started house-to-house evictions of elements of the Mahdi Army militia from Shiite neighborhoods. CBS' Lara Logan tagged along with the Fourth Cavalry Division as it began operations in the sniper-infested Sunni neighborhood of Haifa Street in central Baghdad where "residents have been trapped in their homes since fighting erupted in January."


BEST LAID PLANS Back in Washington, CBS' Sharyl Attkisson explained how House Democrats are planning to prevent the President from executing his troop build-up without taking the politically unpopular path of cutting off funds "which could be construed as not supporting the troops." The plan by Rep John Murtha, who runs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, will instruct the Pentagon to improve the troops' training, to increase equipment readiness and relax the pace of troop rotations. If implemented, "they cannot continue this surge, is what it amounts to," Murtha explained on a Webcast.

ABC's Martha Raddatz found old Pentagon documents at the National Security Archive laying out its plans for the military occupation of Iraq. By early 2007, the pre-war plans envisaged, the US would have a grand total of 5,000 troops stationed in Iraq. Reducing troops from the build-up total of 160,000 to that level now "could take a decade or more," Raddatz estimated.


CONSUMER NEWS The peanut butter story came on the third day of CBS' series Safe Enough To Eat? about the threat of food poisoning. Tuesday, Wyatt Andrews told us about a hodgepodge of federal regulatory food agencies and Wednesday John Blackstone checked out e.coli prevention measures on California's produce farms. In part three Bob Orr surveyed the vulnerability of agribusiness to terrorist sabotage and Mark Strassmann piggybacked with the news of Peter Pan salmonella poisoning: "Who would have thought eating peanut butter could be bad for you?"

The baldness prevention comb was covered by NBC's Robert Bazell. It has a laser light that stimulates follicles and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. "The biggest drawback is that it costs $550."


STRAIGHT TO THE HOOP On such a light news day, there was room for some sports coverage on all three networks. CBS' Bill Whitaker found "the Dunkmaster," a personal trainer in Los Angeles whose punishing regimen allows "Michael Jordan wannabes" to accomplish their dream of dunking a basketball. Gil Thomas, a five-foot-eight-inch dunker himself, told Whitaker he could clear the rim after "about a year, the shape you look like you are in."

NBC's Martin Savidge covered NASCAR's cheating scandal a day later than ABC's John Berman (no link) did. Racer Michael Waltrip's primary car has been disqualified from the Daytona 500 because his team was caught with adulterated gasoline, perhaps boosted with aviation jet fuel. "This is a huge embarrassment for Toyota, since this was its first foray into NASCAR racing," said Savidge. Waltrip will have to drive his back-up.

This time Berman (subscription required) covered the book Man in the Middle by John Amaechi in which the former NBA player comes out of the closet as gay. Berman noted that there is "only a small handful" of known homosexuals in men's professional team sports and even they went public "only after they retired." Their closeted status comes as no surprise when they can be targets of the sort of animosity that former star Tim Hardaway registered to Amaechi, calling in to the 790 The Ticket sports talkradio show: "I hate gay people…yeah, I am homophobic."

Berman structured his story to make Hardaway's tirade the news hook rather than Amaechi's book. Man in the Middle turns out to be published by ESPN Books, a corporate sibling of ABC News. Such cross-promotion should have been transparently noted by Berman.


SCAREDY CATS Several new correspondents have been hired by CBS since Katie Couric's arrival as anchor last fall. Technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg is one of them. On the basis of a couple of recent features, perhaps he should be called the Scare-Parents-of-Teenagers correspondent. First Sieberg told us about Ambush Porn, how teenagers can stumble across hardcore Websites while surfing online. Now he worries about Cyberbullying, the exchange of teenage abuse, rumors and threats by e-mail, instant messaging and at social networking sites.

In each story Sieberg consulted Parry Aftab of wiredsafety.org for her advice for anxious parents of teenagers. Aftab's Website also worries about children and online fraud. Perhaps Sieberg's next assignment will be Teenage Online Chargeaholics.


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: existing homes sales statistics reveal continued weakness in the housing market…the trial of 29 suspected terrorists in the Madrid commuter train bombings begins…global warming climate scientists measure January's temperatures as hotter than ever.