Middle East diplomacy was Story of the Day as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended a regional summit on the reconstruction of Iraq at the Sharm el-Sheikh resort in Egypt. Rice reversed her policy and abandoned her refusal to have contacts with Syria. Only CBS led with her initiative. NBC chose to publicize MSNBC's Campaign 2008 debate among ten Republican candidates. ABC opted to lead with a lavish but inconsequential photo-op--the visit of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to Virginia.    
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Iraq: Baghdad convenes summit of regional powersSecretary Rice talks to Syria at Sharm el-SheikhJim SciuttoEgypt
video thumbnailCBSIraq: Baghdad convenes summit of regional powersState Department takes Iraq Study Group adviceDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSIran nuclear weapons program suspectedFinancial sanctions imposed, start to biteElizabeth PalmerTeheran
video thumbnailNBC2008 Presidential race Republican field overviewReagan Library hosts ten-candidate debateDavid GregoryCalifornia
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignSecret Service provides early stage protectionBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIllegal immigration increases, sparks backlashLAPD violence against marchers investigatedPeter AlexanderLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCNASA astronaut Wally Schirra dies, aged 84ObituaryBrian WilliamsNew York
video thumbnailABCBritish royals coverageQueen Elizabeth II visits VirginiaNick WattVirginia
video thumbnailCBSHorse racing Triple Crown: Kentucky Derby heldField of contenders handicappedSharyn AlfonsiKentucky
video thumbnailABCHorse racing Triple Crown: Kentucky Derby heldLegacy of champion Barbaro is safer race tracksDean ReynoldsKentucky
RICE RELENTS Middle East diplomacy was Story of the Day as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended a regional summit on the reconstruction of Iraq at the Sharm el-Sheikh resort in Egypt. Rice reversed her policy and abandoned her refusal to have contacts with Syria. Only CBS led with her initiative. NBC chose to publicize MSNBC's Campaign 2008 debate among ten Republican candidates. ABC opted to lead with a lavish but inconsequential photo-op--the visit of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to Virginia.

Secretary Rice's meeting with Damascus' foreign minister made news despite her efforts to keep a low profile. The discussions were held behind closed doors so "there was not even a photo-op," CBS' Sheila MacVicar complained. ABC's Jim Sciutto (subscription required) reminded the Secretary that only four months ago she had argued that talks with Syria put the United States "in the role of supplicant." Why now? "They need to stop the flow of foreign fighters, the biggest source, probably, of suicide bombers," Rice replied. NBC's Martin Fletcher contrasted the half hour of "businesslike talks," in Rice's words, after "two years of hostile silence" with the criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. She earned President George Bush's "wrath for doing the same thing in Damascus."

At the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin reminded us that it was five months ago that the Iraq Study Group recommended that Bush begin diplomacy with both Syria and Iran "with urgency and without preconditions." Martin asked ISG co-chairman Lee Hamilton what had happened. "Reality may have set in." ABC's Sciutto noted that the summit's host Egypt, along with fellow Sunni Moslem regimes in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, oppose close ties between the Shiite-led government of Iraq and its coreligionist neighbor Iran. Iraqi officials, on the other hand, now want the United States "to meet formally with Iran" too. "What will it take to meet with the Iranians?" CBS' MacVicar asked Rice. "The question really is: why will Teheran not talk to us?" she answered.

NUCLEAR CHILL Elizabeth Palmer continued her reporting from Teheran on CBS. On Tuesday Palmer went clothes shopping to check out the religious police's dress code for women. Next she visited Iran's financial center to inquire whether international sanctions to pressure Iran to curb its uranium enrichment were effective. The answer appears to be in the affirmative. Palmer found prices at the Teheran Stock Exchange in a two-year "plummet," business activity in a "big chill," Bank Sepah, with strong links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, unable to process routine international transactions and inflation accelerating for consumers. Yet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains unmoved. He announced he will not relinquish his nuclear ambitions, even if sanctions are intensified.

SHADOW OF THE GIPPER NBC, as it did last week for the Democrats, gave full play to its sibling network's debate. David Gregory set the stage from the Reagan Library in California's Simi Valley and Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert (at the tail of the Gregory videostream) predicted applause lines from the front runners: John McCain will say "he actually knew Ronald Reagan;" Mitt Romney will say he was a governor "a la Ronald Reagan;" Rudolph Giuliani will say he was hired as a Deputy Attorney General "under Ronald Reagan." Gregory pointed out that each is vulnerable to challenge on his "conservative credentials." He suggested that Wisconsin's former governor Tommy Thompson might be the man with that attack.

NBC's Gregory quoted his own network's poll showing "a crisis of confidence within GOP ranks" with 31% of the party faithful unhappy with the choice of candidates while CBS' Sandra Hughes cited her network's poll that found that 64% of Republicans do not believe that the party follows Reagan's principles. The debate takes place in the library pavilion that houses his Air Force One jet, "which, like the memory of Ronald Reagan, hovers over the proceedings." As last week, ABC did not consider the debate newsworthy enough to warrant a preview.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, the Secret Service announced that they would extend protection to Barack Obama. The protection was a response to the support Obama attracts on the stump, CBS' Bob Orr pointed out, not because of any known threat. An unnamed Obama aide told Orr: "There is concern about the size of Obama's crowds and the sheer crush of people who want to press close or even touch a candidate who exudes rock-star appeal." ABC's George Stephanopoulos did acknowledge that the African-American's race is "certainly" a factor in taking precautions.

CAUGHT ON VIDEOTAPE Only NBC decided to follow-up on the police violence that ended Los Angeles' May Day pro-immigrant rally. Peter Alexander pointed out that three separate investigations will be aided by "hundreds of hours" of videotape that was shot by news crews, already on the scene before the clash. Police fired 240 rubber bullets in all "yet no one was arrested at the site." Many reporters and marchers told Alexander that they never heard the police order to leave MacArthur Park before being confronted by batons and riot gear.

BORN TO FLY NASA astronaut Wally Schirra died, aged 84, one of the original seven Mercury program spacemen immortalized as having The Right Stuff. He later went into space with Gemini and Apollo too. In his obituary, NBC's Brian Williams pointed out that Schirra, a USNavy pilot, was born into a flying family. His father had been a fighter pilot in World War I and later took to the barnstorming circuit with Schirra's mother. Williams showed fantastic footage of her midair stunt work as a wingwalker. NBC's veteran space correspondent Jay Barbree paid tribute to Schirra as one of the nation's "best sons…one of the nicest people that ever lived, one of the nicest astronauts."

AND THEY’RE OFF! The Queen of England came to Virginia, where her nation's first successful American settlement was founded 400 years ago. "A frenzied commonwealth gussied itself up for the Queen," NBC's Bob Faw found. "Bells were rung. Breastplates were polished. Matchlock muskets fired." CBS' Mark Phillips noted that she described the settlement as an intersection of three great civilizations: western European, native American and African. He called it "not quite an apology" for expropriation and slavery but "something very close--an unprecedented recognition that American diversity started at the very beginning of American history."

ABC's Nick Watt observed that Jamestown and Williamsburg are all very well, but the royal heart is set on the sport of kings: "She is a lifelong fan of horse racing." On Saturday Elizabeth will be at Churchill Downs "fulfilling her dreams" of a flutter. True to his London base, Watt pronounced the race as the Kentucky "Darby."

AFTER BARBARO Horse racing took the fancy of both ABC and CBS. They both closed their newscasts with a reference to Barbaro, last year's Derby winner, who broke down while racing and died despite heroic surgery. CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi showed us Barbaro's full brother, a recently-born foal romping across the fields of a Kentucky stud. ABC's Dean Reynolds inspected the polytrack at Keeneland in Lexington, the more forgiving rubberized surface under a waxy coating that race courses are laying to try to keep thoroughbreds sound: "Racing, after all, should be about winning and losing--not life and death."

As for our possible winnings on Saturday, Alfonsi had this advice. Curlin has only raced three times. Storm in May is blind in one eye. Pletcher's Platoon is the nickname for the five horses entered by trainer Todd Pletcher, led by Circular Quay. Alfonsi plumped on Teuflesberg, only the thirteenth horse in Kentucky Derby history to be trained by a woman.

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: mass protests in Tel Aviv demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert…severe storms batter central Texas…fired morning host Don Imus is suing CBS Radio for breach of his $40m contract.