CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARCH 02, 2007
Both CBS and NBC chose the crisis in military healthcare as their lead story. Heads are starting to roll in the army because of the substandard care for combat casualties--but the shake-up did not qualify as Story of the Day. The most heavily-covered story was the follow-up to yesterday's string of tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia. Dozens of twisters killed 20 people. ABC gave the storms the heaviest coverage and made them its lead.    
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click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCTornado seasonAla HS roof collapsed, killing eight studentsDavid MuirAlabama
video thumbnailCBSTornado seasonTwisters hit hospital, trailer park in GeorgiaSharyn AlfonsiGeorgia
video thumbnailNBCCollege baseball team in Atlanta bus crashPlummets off Interstate overpass, six killedMark PotterAtlanta
video thumbnailABCMilitary combat casualties suffer disabilitiesShake-up of army brass over substandard careJonathan KarlPentagon
video thumbnailNBCMilitary combat casualties suffer disabilitiesShake-up of army brass over substandard careJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailCBSMilitary combat casualties suffer disabilitiesShake-up of army brass over substandard careDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesMilitary medics suffer stress from excess traumaRobert BazellBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCToddlers at risk from over-the-counter cold remediesFDA to investigate safety, marketing, dosageNancy SnydermanNew York
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesBlackhawk helicopter crash killed Iowa sergeantCynthia BowersIowa
video thumbnailABCMalaria coverageNew off-patent medicine affordable for AfricansCharles GibsonNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
TORNADOES TRUMP ARMY Both CBS and NBC chose the crisis in military healthcare as their lead story. Heads are starting to roll in the army because of the substandard care for combat casualties--but the shake-up did not qualify as Story of the Day. The most heavily-covered story was the follow-up to yesterday's string of tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia. Dozens of twisters killed 20 people. ABC gave the storms the heaviest coverage and made them its lead.

ABC flooded the zone, as the saying goes. It sent two correspondents plus its in-house meteorologist to the small Alabama town of Enterprise where a twister tore the roof off the local high school, crushing students taking shelter in a hallway. Bereaved teenagers described their eight dead classmates to Steve Osunsami (subscription required): "It is a small school. Everybody knew them." David Muir confirmed that the school had handled the tornado warning properly: "The students and teachers were doing exactly what they had been taught. They held a drill just last week." Concluded CBS' Mark Strassmann: "The school was ready--the building was not." NBC obtained eyewitness cell phone videotape of the funnel advancing: "The tornado was a monster," NBC's Kerry Sanders commented.

The Georgia angle was covered by CBS and NBC. NBC's Martin Savidge (at the tail of the Sanders videostream) showed us the halls of a hospital in Americus that took a direct hit: "Despite its terrible beating, no one died." At a trailer park in Newton where six were killed within 300 feet on one another, CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi ran the videotape: "If it looks like Mother Nature erased an entire neighborhood, it is because she did."

On ABC, Good Morning America meteorologist Sam Champion (no link) suggested that global warming might have killed those teenagers, creating "wild weather extremes." He noted a trend towards "more early season tornadoes" caused by warm air being pushed into the southeast by El Nino.


ERROR OFF RAMP Yet more students died in the south--this time college athletes in Atlanta. The baseball team from Bluffton University in Ohio was traveling to Florida for a spring break tournament. Its bus plummeted 24 feet off an Interstate overpass in the pre-dawn darkness: four players and two adults were killed. NBC's Mark Potter suggested confusion by the driver, apparently mistaking an off-ramp for I-75's High Occupancy Vehicle lane.

NBC's computer animation department was working overtime. It recreated the path of the storm over the high school in Sanders' tornado story and it depicted the bus plowing through a retaining wall and toppling off the overpass in Potter's. CBS' Randall Pinkston also narrated a bus crash animation. He concurred with the mistaken exit theory, reporting that the bus took the off-ramp "at highway speed." There were no skid marks, noted ABC's Mike von Fremd (subscription required) as he too voiced-over computer graphics, "no sign that the driver tried to stop."


TIP OF THE ICEBERG The crisis in the army is spreading beyond a single set of squalid out-patient quarters at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. ABC's Jonathan Karl reported that President George Bush has ordered that the entire healthcare system for active duty soldiers and veterans be scrutinized. Army brass was warned in a memo six months ago that at Walter Reed "patient care services are at risk of mission failure," Karl added.

Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey was fired by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Army Surgeon General Kevin Kiley, who was put in charge of Walter Reed by Harvey yesterday, was replaced after one day on the job. On NBC, Jim Miklaszewski's unidentified sources at the Pentagon told him that Gates decided Harvey should go when Kiley was appointed: "Gates saw Kiley as part of the problem…it showed a lack of judgment." When veterans' activists heard about the firings, "Gates' swift sword was immediately cheered," CBS' David Martin remarked. "Gates has both overruled the army and fired its leader--a stunning vote of no confidence."


NO MORE TRAUMA Back in Baghdad, Robert Bazell completed his remarkable week-long series Wounds of War for NBC. To recap, Monday he explained why so many soldiers are coming home crippled--because they are saved from dying. Tuesday, he showed us the expensive flying Intensive Care Unit that transports them to safety in Germany. Wednesday, he contrasted the heroic care offered by the US military with the abject treatment for Iraqi civilians. Thursday, he praised the healthcare ethics of the military, honorably treating ally and insurgent alike.

Lastly, Bazell shared the toll the carnage of war takes on the medical professionals themselves. Deprived of alcohol at their base in Baghdad, their drug of choice to relax after work is nicotine: "Cigars are a big part of their social ritual." Whenever they fail to save a life they line up on the hospital roof to salute the Angel Flight helicopter that carries the corpse away (Bazell was refused permission to videotape that ceremony). The final word of the series was a soundbite from a surgeon, but it seemed to reflect Bazell's own response to the horrors he had seen. "When I leave the army I am going to find a small children's hospital that does not do trauma. I promise you that. If I never do trauma again after this it will not bother me in the least bit."


DO NOT TAKE TWO OF THESE Back in the field of civilian medicine, all three networks covered sniffles and sneezes. The Food and Drug Administration is being petitioned to launch a review into over-the-counter cold remedies for children. Are they safe? Are the doses correct? Do they work? ABC had correspondent Kate Snow (subscription required) file the story. She noted that the safety concerns are "surprising" for many parents since the products' packaging is obviously aimed at young children with teddy bears, smiling children, easy-to-use droppers.

CBS and NBC each assigned it to its in-house physician. CBS' Jon LaPook warned that "accidental overdoses can occur" while telling us that the recommended doses were never tested on children in the first place: they were "based on studies done on adults and then estimated for kids." NBC's Nancy Snyderman repeated expert advice that no child under six years old should take any of them. Instead of O-T-C medicine, Snow suggested "saline drops, humidifiers and a lot of T-L-C."


SERGEANT GRANDMA Bazell's Wounds of War finale was unique: it was the day's only story filed from a foreign dateline. For the second straight day there was virtually no international coverage on any of the three newscasts. CBS' exception, but with a heartland dateline, was a Cynthia Bowers feature for its American Heroes series. She paid tribute to Sgt Marilyn Gabbard, an Iowa grandmother who was killed when a Blackhawk helicopter was shot down only 26 days into her deployment in Iraq.

"This is such a sad newscast," exclaimed CBS' Katie Couric.


MOSQUITOES BITE ABC's lone overseas exception, but filed from New York, looked at the scourge of malaria. The disease sickens 500m people each year worldwide. Each day, 3,000 children die. Sanofi-Aventis has agreed to take ASAQ, a new medication, off-patent so that an entire course of treatment can be sold for $1 to adults, 50c for children. The public health activist responsible for persuading the pharmaceutical firm to do the right thing was Bernard Pecoul, the former head of Medecins Sans Frontieres. Charles Gibson made the doctor ABC's Person of the Week: "five children will die while this story is on the air."


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: Republican Presidential hopefuls present their case to conservative activists…the stock market completes its worst week in four years…that NASA love triangle arrest has not resulted in attempted murder charges.