For the third straight day, the tuberculosis supergerm was the Story of the Day. The bridegroom patient was identified as Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old personal injury lawyer from Atlanta. CBS and NBC both led with the coincidence connecting Speaker to his new bride's father, Robert Cooksey. ABC led with publicity for its own scoop: Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer grabbed an Exclusive interview with Speaker in his isolation ward at National Jewish Hospital in Denver.     
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video thumbnailNBCTuberculosis: drug-resistant strain isolatedPatient's father-in-law is CDC specialist in TBRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailCBSInfectious disease outbreak preparedness studiedPublic health system not ready for emergencyNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSWar on Drugs: prescription painkiller abuseHouston clinic exposed as no-check-up pill millArmen KeteyianHouston
video thumbnailNBCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changePresident Bush seeks talks on post-Kyoto pactDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailABCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeNASA boss unalarmed despite his own scientistsBill BlakemoreNew York
video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS military holds secret talks with insurgentsJonathan KarlPentagon
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSeptember is too soon to evaluate troop surgeDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABC
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Christian evangelist Rev Billy Graham honoredLibrary museum of his career in Charlotte NCCharles GibsonNorth Carolina
video thumbnailNBC2008 Barack Obama campaignRole of his wife Michelle on campaign trailJanet ShamlianChicago
video thumbnailCBSInternet junk e-mail spam messages proliferateMarketer accused of spamming via identity theftBill WhitakerLos Angeles
SUPERGERM PATIENT’S STRANGE TIE TO BRIDE’S FATHER For the third straight day, the tuberculosis supergerm was the Story of the Day. The bridegroom patient was identified as Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old personal injury lawyer from Atlanta. CBS and NBC both led with the coincidence connecting Speaker to his new bride's father, Robert Cooksey. ABC led with publicity for its own scoop: Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer grabbed an Exclusive interview with Speaker in his isolation ward at National Jewish Hospital in Denver.

Cooksey, it turns out, is a microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, whose "life's work," according to ABC's Lisa Stark, is research into the same rare strain of tuberculosis with which Speaker is infected. Yet Cooksey's study and Speaker's infection had no causal connection: Cooksey asserted that he tests negative for tuberculosis and the strain that infected Speaker did not originate at the CDC labs. "Cooksey also said he was not involved in any decisions his son-in-law made to travel," Stark reported--which makes him an unusually detached Father of the Bride.

As for the CDC themselves, "how is it that the nation's premier agency that is meant to stop or prevent the spread of disease allowed a man it knew had a dangerous and contagious disease to simply go free?" NBC's Martin Savidge (at the tail of the Gregory videostream) inquired. Speaker himself insists that is what happened, according to GMA's Sawyer: "There is a tape recording of the meeting that he had with health officials." The newlyweds told her that "it confirms completely their view it was all right for him to travel." Jason Vik, a fellow passenger on Speaker's flight from Atlanta to Paris, blamed the patient not the public health professionals. He characterized the sick man to CBS' Kelly Cobiella as "some selfish guy that just was not willing to give up his wedding." NBC's Robert Bazell quoted this soundbite from father-in-law Cooksey: "Please try to refrain from uninformed anchor-desk chitchat about this."

GMA's Sawyer said Speaker was at "the center of this anger, this outrage." Her lead for ABC was more like publicity and promotion than reporting. For example, she explained that Speaker "wants everybody to know how he made the decision" to fly after he was informed of the severity of his condition, "why he felt so strongly that it was not endangering anybody else"--yet she refrained from telling us what his answers are. Sawyer conducted her hourlong interview, she told us, wearing a mask, which "by the way, we did not technically have to wear." So why did she? By doing so does the mask not unfairly inflame his status as a reckless pariah?

EASE THE PAIN This single TB patient was the springboard for Nancy Cordes to examine the general state of public health preparedness for an outbreak of infectious disease. There is no vaccine for SARS, none for West Nile Virus, and one for avian influenza is only in development. Cordes asked public health expert Eric Nuermberger at Johns Hopkins University why pharmaceutical companies have not developed new antibiotics for infectious diseases. He explained that a course of treatment may last seven days to one month so they "cannot generate the same kind of profits as a new cholesterol agent--or the new Viagra--which a person might take for years."

Nuermberger could have mentioned prescription painkillers and Armen Keteyian did in his CBS Investigation of so-called pill mills. Those are clinics that illegally prescribe narcotics without a mandatory physical examination. His cameras went undercover at a mill in Houston where four volunteers posing as patients obtained 720 doses of Vicodin, Xanax and Soma with neither a check-up nor a medical history. CBS' substitute anchor Anthony Mason told us that almost 20,000 deaths are caused annually nationwide by overdoses from abuse of pain pills.

GEARING UP FOR GERMANY Global warming attracted coverage on all three networks as President George Bush made a proposal to set long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NBC's White House correspondent David Gregory conceded that it was "significant" that the President should attempt to end his "isolation on climate change"--but after that came the caveats. Gregory pointed out that Bush's global warming speech followed yesterday's on AIDS in Africa (text link) and Tuesday's on Darfur (text link): all issues highlighted before next week's G8 Economic Summit in Germany "in order to mend frayed relations with US allies." Also from the White House, CBS' Jim Axelrod observed that Bush was calling for "voluntary international goals" instead of the "binding commitments" proposed by the European Union to reduce emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050. NBC's Anne Thompson (at the tail of the Gregory videostream) consulted her sources among environmental activists: one unattributed spin was that the Bush speech was "too little too late" and a "PR strategy" designed to keep him from appearing the G8's "obstructionist."

At ABC, Bill Blakemore picked up on a National Public Radio interview by Administrator Michael Griffin of NASA, whose agency is responsible for atmospheric research into the global climate. Griffin called it "arrogant" to assume that the contemporary climate is the best one for humans. "I am not sure," he said, that global warming, "is a problem that we must wrestle with." Blakemore asked climate change scientists why warming is a problem: their response was that human civilization has only existed during the 7,000-year period since the end of the last Ice Age. "Agriculture has always depended on this stable climate--but now temperatures are on track to shoot way above what civilization has ever known."

AMNESTY FEELERS Gen Ray Odierno conducted a teleconference from Baghdad for correspondents at the Pentagon. CBS and ABC each picked up on his newsmaking, each choosing a separate angle. For ABC, Jonathan Karl (subscription required) chose the "major effort to negotiate ceasefires with some of Iraq's most dangerous insurgents." The US military is using the CIA as a go-between, identifying leaders of guerrilla groups and bringing them in for talks. "As a price of peace the insurgents are demanding jobs, pensions and amnesty for their fighters, including those who have killed Americans."

CBS' David Martin observed Odierno "lowering expectations" about the success of the so-called surge, the reinforcement of US troops in Baghdad, designed to create enough security in the capital to enable Iraqi sectarian leaders to reach a political compromise. Martin's unnamed military sources told him that the surge "stands no chance of succeeding by September," the month when Odierno's commander Gen David Petraeus is scheduled to deliver a progress report to Congress. The best the brass in Baghdad hopes from the surge is "just enough progress to justify continuing" it.

THE LIFE & CAREER OF BILLY GRAHAM ABC's Charles Gibson (subscription required) anchored from Charlotte NC where he attended the dedication ceremonies for the Billy Graham Library, a $27m museum about the 88-year-old evangelist. The building is designed to evoke his parents' dairy farm where he was raised--Gibson called the exhibit to Bessie the cow "somewhat incongruous"--with a 40-foot window in the shape of a Christian cross cut into the side.

Graham's preacher son Franklin told CBS' Byron Pitts that his father had resisted the project: "If this was going to be a monument to him he wanted no part of it." Well, Graham would have been disappointed with the coverage on all three networks. Almost all was about his life and achievements; very little about his gospel of salvation. NBC's Lester Holt noted that Graham has been "a spiritual advisor to Presidents" going back to Harry Truman. Graham's first revival to make a mark was in a tent in Los Angeles in 1949--the so-called Canvas Cathedral--but his ministry "came of age with television," CBS' Pitts noted. And ABC's Gibson reminded us about Graham's political stances: in favor of the civil rights movement and nuclear disarmament, staunchly anti-Communist and supportive of federal poverty relief. "I feel like I have been attending my own funeral," the preacher commented, as the center of attention.

WINDY While ABC's Gibson was in Charlotte, NBC sent Brian Williams to anchor from Chicago. On the agenda was the mayor, a possible future First Lady and those noisy bugs. CBS had Michelle Miller close with the 17-year cicadas on Tuesday; now it was Kevin Tibbles' turn for NBC, and, yes, he too showed humans eating them.

Michelle Obama, from Chicago's South Side, is the 43-year-old wife of Democratic Presidential contender Barack Obama. The pair of lawyers met at work in a Chicago firm. NBC's Janet Shamlian noted that Barack's campaign is using Michelle to target "a pivotal voting bloc, working mothers" who might otherwise be attracted to that other Chicago native Hillary Rodham Clinton. Accordingly, Shamlian's profile touched on whether Obama is "conflicted" about quitting her job to join the campaign--and how she juggles her days in Iowa and New Hampshire with her nights with daughters eight-year-old Malia and five-year-old Sasha. "She is willing to take serious issues head on," Shamlian proclaimed. For example, "you have heard the criticisms that he is not black enough"--which hardly seems like a serious issue. Michelle Obama swatted the softball away with the contempt it deserved. "Folks are not asking whether Barack is black…they want to know what are his policy positions. What is his stance on the war in Iraq?"

Anchor Williams also touched on Obama and Rodham Clinton at the end of his laudatory interview with Mayor Richard Daley admiring the greening of Chicago with its streetside trees and rooftop gardens. Williams reminded Daley that he used to be "good friends" with the Clintons yet had endorsed Obama. "I endorsed our favorite son," Daley responded. "I talked to her and she understood."

A BOTNET ZOMBIE ARMY Federal prosecutors in Seattle received an approving nod from CBS and ABC for their arrest of Robert Soloway, a 27-year-old Internet marketer. "Computer users around the world are rejoicing at his arrest," exclaimed CBS' Bill Whitaker, junking the presumption of innocence. ABC's Jim Avila was more circumspect, attributing the good news to the feds: the arrest "may actually cause e-mail users to notice a specific drop in today's spam count." Avila cited statistics that 75% of all e-mail traffic is unsolicited junk, so-called spam.

CBS' Whitaker tried to explain Soloway's alleged technique: he would take the "computer ID" of a paying client and "tap into a shadowy Web creation called a Botnet--a network of computers hijacked by hackers." Then "using the Botnet like a zombie army, Soloway sent out millions, even billions, of junk mail a day that could never be traced back to him." Microsoft tried and failed to stop Soloway with a civil lawsuit, ABC's Avila recalled. "Now it is counting on jail time."

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: economic growth slowed in the first quarter of 2007 with the Gross Domestic Product increasing by only 0.6%…the dispute between Russia and NATO over the deployment of an anti-missile defense in the Czech Republic intensified…President Jalal Talabani of Iraq visited the White House for talks with President Bush…Dell, the computer manufacturer, will lay off 8,000 workers…the death toll of public school students in Chicago from homicides rose to 28 since September.