CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 16, 2007
The 246-182 vote by the House of Representatives to disapprove of President George Bush's build-up of troops in Baghdad was the Story of the Day. All three newscasts led with a report from Capitol Hill. CBS and NBC followed with the White House reaction. ABC chose the impact on the Senate as its secondary angle.    
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesHouse disapproves of troop build-up 246-182Jake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesHouse disapproves of troop build-up 246-182Chip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesViolence abates in Baghdad, Mahdi Army lays lowJonathan KarlWhite House
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Airline travel: disruptions, delays, cancelationsPassengers lobby for federal consumer protectionLisa StarkWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCReal estate housing market prices start to fallExcess inventory slows pace of new constructionDiana OlickWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSReal estate housing market prices start to fallExcess inventory slows pace of new constructionAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailNBCAdult children are caretakers for aging parentsFinancial, time strains on Ala family describedTom BrokawNew York
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Baseball minor league pitcher lost finger in IraqMarine Corps veteran signed by San Diego PadresCharles GibsonNew York
video thumbnailCBSMilitary personnel face family, personal problemsSoldiers' children grow accustomed to deploymentJerry BowenWashington State
video thumbnailCBSAdoption placement expert has to place her childrenTerminal cancer patient plans for own daughtersSteve HartmanNo Dateline
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
THE HOUSE DISAPPROVES The 246-182 vote by the House of Representatives to disapprove of President George Bush's build-up of troops in Baghdad was the Story of the Day. All three newscasts led with a report from Capitol Hill. CBS and NBC followed with the White House reaction. ABC chose the impact on the Senate as its secondary angle.

ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required) evoked the mood of the debate: "Years of Democratic anger spilled out on the House floor." As for the Republicans, they "alternated between arguing that the resolution was completely worthless or, conversely, cataclysmic." When it came to the vote NBC's Chip Reid noted the key question: "How many Republicans would abandon the President?" He recalled earlier estimates of 20 to 60. "In the end there were only 17." CBS' Sharyl Attkisson agreed: "Largely a party-line vote after a party-line debate."

NBC's David Gregory (at the tail of the Reid videostream) said that the focus at the White House was not on this "political blow" but on the next step: the President "will not abide a cut in funding." In order to argue his case, CBS' Jim Axelrod anticipated this formulation: Supporting the Troops Means Funding the Troops.

Nothing may come of the House vote anyway, not even a purely symbolic piece of legislation, ABC's George Stephanopoulos predicted. The vote in the Senate lines up at 55-45 against the President's policy, short of the 60 needed to overcome a pro-Bush filibuster. "There are a lot of Democrats who do want to go farther, who want to cut funding for the troops." But if they do not have the votes for disapproval, how do they expect to have the votes for cuts?


GONE TO GROUND In the morgues of Baghdad there are early signs of improvement, ABC's Jonathan Karl told us, citing the "morbid statistic" of the delivery of corpses--down from 40 or 50 each night to just ten. The Shiite Mahdi Army appears to have withdrawn from conflict, laying low. However, Karl cautioned that "in the past repeated claims of success in Iraq have been crushed by new waves of violence."


GOT THE BLUES The upshot from yesterday's jetBlue fiasco that stranded hundreds of passengers on icy runways for hours may be what ABC's Lisa Stark (subscription required) dubbed a "passenger bill of rights," new federal regulations covering flight delays and disruptions. "These incidents, although they are clearly outrageous, do not happen all that often." Congress last took up the issue in 1999, Stark recalled, when NorthWest Airlines had jetBlue-style problems. Legislators backed down when the airlines promised to self-regulate. The proposed provisions in the regulations were listed by CBS' Bob Orr: a three-hour maximum wait on the runway, notification of delays, and a guarantee of food, water and sanitary facilities.


CABLE CONNECTION NBC is increasing its reliance on its financial news cable channel CNBC for business reporting. CNBC's Phil LeBeau assessed the likelihood of a General Motors buyout of the money-losing Chrysler as "a little premature…a sizable and probably very troublesome deal for General Motors." CNBC's Diana Olick offered an update on the latest statistics in the housing market. The slowdown in construction is "causing a ripple effect for those who dig the holes in the ground and those who sell supplies to builders."

CBS also covered the struggles of the housing market. Anthony Mason offered free publicity to an anxious architect in Atlanta, who is offering to sell a couple of investment properties at a loss. "We may not have hit bottom yet," Mason warned about prices in general. And Kelly Cobiella took a tour of a bay view condominium apartment that is taking five months to sell in Miami. This seller's gimmick is an offer to pre-pay a year's maintenance fees, a $12,000 incentive.


TOM BROKAW, OLD SCHOOL Brian Williams has been reassuring us all week about the popularity of the Trading Places series in which NBC correspondents use profiles of their own parents to illustrate various issues in eldercare--assisted living facilities, the aged living alone, retirement trends and bereavement.

On Monday we registered our complaints about this type of journalism: first-person reporting by millionaire anchors will inevitably downplay the financial strain faced by the majority of the population; furthermore, how can correspondents possibly report without fear or favor when the central figure in their story is their own parent?

Our protests were finally vindicated by Tom Brokaw. Unlike Williams or Tim Russert or Nancy Snyderman or Ann Curry before him, Brokaw's Trading Places was not a love letter to his mother Jean. Brokaw tersely described her assisted living facility while pointing out that its monthly $6,000 cost is easy for him to afford--but that he is "the exception, not the rule."

Brokaw then changed the subject to Litisa Gaston, a claims processor in Birmingham Ala, who has to look after her pre-school daughter and her neurologically impaired mother Alfreda, all on an annual income of $50,000. After tithes, daycare, heat, food and clothing, it "leaves the Gastons with no savings--they manage with patience and prayer."


FOUR-FINGER BRANNAN ABC's closing feature was its Person of the Week. Charles Gibson (subscription required) told us about Cooper Brannan, a 22-year-old Marine veteran of the Iraq War, who has signed a minor league contract as a pitcher by the San Diego Padres.

He is a right-hander so the fact that a grenade in Fallujah mutilated his left hand and blew off one of his fingers will give him no Mordecai-Brown-style edge to his split-fingered fastball. The most moving part of the profile was when Brannan held up his one-week-old daughter with the smiling boast "ten fingers, ten toes"--which is more than the pitcher can say of himself.


PRE-ORPHANS Also pulling at our heartstrings were CBS' pair of week-ending features: Assignment America and American Heroes. The "heroes" were the children of Fort Lewis. Jerry Bowen interviewed gradeschoolers about their anxieties concerning their parents' frequent deployment to war. "The kids have learned to cope. For nearly half their lives this war has been part of their reality." A ten-year-old put it this way: "All the pictures that you are going to be taking while your dad is gone, the loved one is gone--there is going to be something missing. And that is going to be that person."

The "assignment" was on the Sadovnikov sisters, nine-year-old Christina and six-year-old Rebecca, whose mother is terminally ill with cervical cancer. Steve Hartman told us that mother Diane is a specialist in placing Ukrainian children for adoption--and so her last big task before she dies is to make sure her daughters have a loving home to move to when they become orphans. "I would like her as a mom for my whole life," wished Christina. "Me too," chimed in Rebecca. "That is unanimous," agreed Hartman.

A single feature about brave pre-teens coping with a parent's mortality is emotional. To file two in the same newscast amounts to saccharine exploitation.


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: Italy has handed down indictments against 26 CIA spies for the abduction and torture--otherwise known as extreme rendition--of a Moslem imam from the streets of Milan.