CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 27, 2007
The former Director of Central Intelligence grabbed the spotlight as the orderly rollout of his tell-all book got rushed. Author George Tenet had scheduled the exclusive kick-off interview of his book tour for Sunday's 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley and CBS, accordingly, had been dribbling out soundbites this week as a coming attraction. But that exclusive was trumped by a reporter for The New York Times who purchased a copy of At the Center of the Storm after it was prematurely placed on the shelves at a bookstore. The embargo lifted, Tenet was Story of the Day, and CBS' story was the lead on both ABC and NBC.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR APRIL 27, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: weapons of mass destruction investigationFormer CIA Director Tenet resents slam dunk spinTom BrokawNew York
video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: weapons of mass destruction investigationFormer CIA Director Tenet resents slam dunk spinMartha RaddatzNew York
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGen Petraeus warns of increased GI death tollDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCSaudi Arabia terrorism: network of cells arrestedSuspect massive plot to sabotage oil industryAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailABCSaudi Arabia terrorism: network of cells arrestedSuspect massive plot to sabotage oil industryJim SciuttoLondon
video thumbnailNBCWar on Drugs: opium crop rebounds in AfghanistanPoppies benefit warlords, guerrillas, peasantsJim MacedaAfghanistan
video thumbnailNBC2008 Presidential race Democratic field overviewGaffe-free performance in eight-candidate debateKelly O'DonnellWhite House
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignLearned politics as southside Chicago organizerKatie CouricChicago
video thumbnailCBSCorn agriculture is fast growing sectorDemand for ethanol increases price of foodCynthia BowersIllinois
video thumbnailABCBabyboom generation heads for retirementMarketers are slow to target affluent cohortBarbara PintoNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
PUBLICITY SCHEDULE DISRUPTED The former Director of Central Intelligence grabbed the spotlight as the orderly rollout of his tell-all book got rushed. Author George Tenet had scheduled the exclusive kick-off interview of his book tour for Sunday's 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley and CBS, accordingly, had been dribbling out soundbites this week as a coming attraction. But that exclusive was trumped by a reporter for The New York Times who purchased a copy of At the Center of the Storm after it was prematurely placed on the shelves at a bookstore. The embargo lifted, Tenet was Story of the Day, and CBS' story was the lead on both ABC and NBC.

NBC anchor Brian Williams explained that his predecessor Tom Brokaw had been scheduled for Tenet's tour so Brokaw had received and read his 500-page advance copy. Brokaw's report included details of the quarrel between Tenet and then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice over the warnings about the "imminent" attacks of September 11th, 2001. Brokaw reported that Tenet singles Rice out for her failure to "recommend countermeasures or preparations." After the attacks "a core group" in George Bush's administration "immediately blamed Iraq."

The chief angle, however, concerned Iraq's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction--or the arsenal's non-existence--and the bone Tenet has to pick with Vice President Dick Cheney. All three networks quoted Cheney's soundbite in September 2006 on NBC's Meet The Press: "Tenet sat in the Oval Office and the President of the United States asked him directly. 'George, how good is the case against Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction?' The Director of the CIA said: 'It is a slam dunk, Mr President.'"

CBS' Jim Axelrod quoted another 60 Minutes preview soundbite. This time Tenet characterized how the White House scapegoated him: "Look what the idiot told us and we decided to go to war." Tenet criticizes Cheney for quoting him out of context: the "slam dunk" concerned the ease with which the case could be publicized, not the ease with which it could be proven. ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) pointed out that Tenet insists that the slam dunk conversation had nothing to do with the President's decision to go to war. Indeed, Raddatz added, Tenet claims that decision was made "without serious debate." She called that charge "perhaps more damning than anything" and pointed out that the White House contradicts it.


NOT A BETTING MAN Only CBS assigned a reporter to cover the current conditions in Iraq. At the Pentagon, David Martin sat down with Gen David Petraeus as he completed his week-long debriefing tour of Washington DC on the status of the US troop reinforcement in Baghdad. The general conceded that an increasing death toll among soldiers under his command was inevitable: "That is what happens when you go after the enemy." He did not anticipate a further escalation of troop levels because the army is "very stretched." Petraeus believes he will know within four months whether this so-called surge is succeeding. As Martin put it, its fate "will be determined in the hellish temperatures of the Iraqi summer." Martin asked: "What is more likely? The prospect of victory or the prospect of defeat?" "I do not handicap events as serious as this."


TARGET OIL Next door in Saudi Arabia al-Ekhbaria TV distributed footage of the claimed break-up of a plot against the kingdom's oil infrastructure. In all 172 alleged militants were arrested organized in seven alleged cells. The video included weapons hidden in desert sand, bundles of cash and caches of plastique explosives. None of the networks had a correspondent on hand. CBS chose the plot as its lead, with Richard Roth narrating the video feed from London: "It was enough to make markets edgy." Financier Phil Flynn told him that a successful attack could drive the price of crude oil up to $100 per barrel.

ABC, too, filed from London. Jim Sciutto reported that Saudi authorities blame the idea for the oil plot on the instruction from al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that aired last year on al-Jazeera TV--as if such an idea could never occur independently to homegrown militants. NBC assigned the story to its diplomatic correspondent Andrea Mitchell. She called the plot--without an "alleged" qualifier--"breathtaking in its scale and sophistication" including assassination of regime leaders, a jailbreak of imprisoned comrades and a hijacked jetliner attack on oil refineries.


WHACK THEM WITH A STICK At the Pentagon, ABC's Jonathan Karl (no link) covered the arrest of an alleged Afghan-based al-Qaeda leader named abdal-Hadi al-Iraqi. Karl reported that abdal-Hadi is now being held at Guantanamo Bay after "harsh interrogation" at a secret CIA prison. Anchor Charles Gibson telegraphed his own use of euphemism: "Do we know if the questioning has been productive?" Karl repeated Pentagon claims that abdal-Hadi coughed up lifesaving information but "there have been no specifics and no proof to back them up."

NBC had Jim Maceda report In Depth from Afghanistan itself where a bumper crop of opium poppies, perhaps worth $3bn is about to be harvested. Maceda showed us the "slow labor" of crop eradication as men walk through the fields in Nangarhar province whacking poppy bulbs with a stick, one at a time. He listed all those who benefit from Afghanistan turning into a narcoeconomy: the traffickers finance the resurgent Taliban guerrillas; government officials pocket bribes; peasant farmers earn $100 per pound for raw opium compared with $1 per pound for wheat.


TRAIL OF TIERS In political news, NBC, obviously, spent more time than its rivals on last night's debate between the eight Democratic Presidential candidates. The debate, after all, was moderated by NBC's Williams and aired on the network's sibling all-news channel MSNBC. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell counted 70 different questions asked in all. She judged that no gaffes had been committed in the "friendly exchange of views" with rivals on first-name terms and their "biggest opponent not in the room." That would be the President and Commander-in-Chief.

CBS' Jeff Greenfield (no link) concentrated on the two leading Democrats, quoting Barack Obama in the debate: "As Hillary mentioned earlier, this is a change election." The passionate enthusiasm of the support for Obama "has become a boulder-sized obstacle" to Rodham Clinton's quest for the White House. "This battle may come down to who gets to claim the mantle of change." Greenfield did not factor in John Edwards as a member of the top tier of candidates.

ABC and NBC both had their Sunday morning anchors perform political analysis. Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press felt that the second tier of candidates--Christopher Dodd, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson--benefited most from the event: "They were able to demonstrate that they belonged on that stage…They are going to hang in there." As he did yesterday, Russert altogether ignored the pair in the third tier, Dennis Kucinich and Paul Mike Gravel. On ABC, This Week's George Stephanopoulos (no link) was underwhelmed by the proceedings: "All of them were a little bit tight, a little bit nervous. They just wanted to get the butterflies out. Nothing happened to change the fundamental dynamics of the race." All seven of the men were dressed in a suit of the same color. "The same thing goes for candidates and anchors."

UPDATE: see how complicit the Tyndall Report is with the very flaws it tries to point out in others? Our apologies to Sen Gravel, whose name we changed here from Mike to Paul. It is probably a greater insult to get someone's name wrong than to ignore him altogether.


LAND OF LINCOLN CBS dispatched Katie Couric to anchor from Chicago. This allowed her to offer a backgrounder on Obama. She visited the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the Far South Side where the senator cut his teeth as a community organizer. Obama worked in the so-called "toxic doughnut" neighborhood--it is surrounded by industrial pollution--for the faith-based Developing Communities Project for four years in the 1980s. Activist Loretta Augustine recalled Obama heckling a City Hall fixer on her behalf: "We want to hear from Loretta. Let Loretta talk."

Continuing the Illinois theme, Cynthia Bowers traveled to the state's cornfields 200 miles to the south, where prosperity reigns in the "golden age of agriculture." Demand for corn for ethanol will divert 25% of this year's harvest, driving up the cost of animal feed--and therefore eggs and chickens already, pork and beef eventually.


TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION ABC continued its focus on the babyboom generation. Last Friday, Lisa Stark (subscription required) worried about their--our--health and fitness. Yesterday, Jessica Yellin told us about babyboomers as helicopters, constantly hovering over their non-independent adult children. Now Barbara Pinto explores the financial reason why the nightly newscasts have an extra special interest in the cohort--its money. Maybe the network's sales force can nail down some advertising buys aimed at the affluent 43-61 demographic. Its 78m members control 70% of the nation's wealth. Pinto showed us spots targeted at boomer women. "Madison Avenue, long obsessed with pitching to 20-and-30-year-olds, is finally catching on."


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: the economic expansion is slowing down, with Gross Domestic Product rising at an annual rate of only 1.3% in 2007's first quarter…the brush fires in the swamps of southern Georgia are burning in their eleventh day…classical cellist and anti-Soviet dissident Mstislav Rostropovich dies, aged 80.