A single senator making a lonely floor speech for C-SPAN cameras set the news agenda. All three networks led with the Story of the Day. Richard Lugar, the veteran Republican from Indiana and former Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, spelled out why the United States must withdraw its military from Iraq: "Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond."    
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video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGOP Senate leader Lugar calls for troop pulloutJim AxelrodWhite House
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGOP Senate leader Lugar calls for troop pulloutChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCIraq: war refugees seek asylum in United StatesUSMC interpreter from Fallujah granted visaDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailABC
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CIA abuses during '60s and '70s investigatedIllegal secrets listed in Family Jewels papersTerry MoranWashington DC
video thumbnailNBC2008 Rudolph Giuliani campaignOutreach to evangelical Christian voting blocJohn YangVirginia
video thumbnailNBCWall Street hedge funds make billionsPrivate speculation groups lure non-richCarl QuintanillaNew York
video thumbnailCBSLuxury consumer goods counterfeited, importedSmuggling suspected from China, ICE arrestsBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailABC
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Auto safety: SUV tire tread separation dangersRecall ordered for brands imported from ChinaLisa StarkWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSWild forest fires in western statesLake Tahoe blaze briefly contained, then spreadsBill WhitakerCalifornia
video thumbnailNBCPoison ivy spreads in suburban back yardsGrowth is more luxuriant, poison is more toxicAnne ThompsonNew York
BUSH LOSES LUGAR A single senator making a lonely floor speech for C-SPAN cameras set the news agenda. All three networks led with the Story of the Day. Richard Lugar, the veteran Republican from Indiana and former Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, spelled out why the United States must withdraw its military from Iraq: "Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond."

ABC and NBC covered the Lugar speech from Capitol Hill. CBS assigned it to Jim Axelrod at the White House. He reported that President George Bush had requested his fellow Republicans "not to call for troop withdrawals before September." Once Lugar did, George Voinovich of Ohio followed suit. Now "the White House is going to keep a very close eye on Sen John Warner." The former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee had this to say of Lugar's speech: "I hail what he did." In the halls of the Capitol, ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required) speculated that it might "serve as a tipping point for his fellow Republicans to abandon the President on the war" and NBC's Chip Reid said Lugar's speech "could be a political turning point." On the other hand, Reid offered the White House response: "Republicans are free to disagree but the troop surge will continue."

ABC, which had Bob Woodruff cover the humanitarian crisis of two million Iraqi refugees from the Middle East last week, turned to a solitary contrary anecdote to close its newscast. David Muir introduced us to Khalid Abood, a military interpreter for the Marine Corps in Fallujah. A wanted man in Iraq for his collaboration with US occupation forces, his USMC officer, Capt Zachary Ischol, lobbied for political asylum for Abood, including testimony on his behalf before Congress. After six months, the State Department relented, and Ischol met his former comrade at New York City's JFK Airport. First on the agenda is a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

FREED INFORMATION This was a banner day for the National Security Archive as the Central Intelligence Agency delivered up its Family Jewels. That is the nickname for the 700-page dossier detailing CIA abuses during the '60s and '70s, "the dark side of the Cold War," as CBS' David Martin put it. Thomas Blanton, who runs the archive, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents 15 years ago. NBC's Pete Williams previewed their publication last Friday. Now the unredacted parts can be read, Blanton is "ecstatic," Martin observed. ABC assigned the story to Nightline anchor Terry Moran (subscription required). He detailed assassination plots against the presidents of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and South Vietnam: "the nation's top spies were essentially running amok." Moran offered the "bizarre" too. The CIA tried to wiretap comedian Dan Rowan in Las Vegas because one of the agency's mobster associates "thought Rowan was getting too friendly with his girlfriend." Moran illustrated the CIA's surveillance of inside-the-Beltway journalists with file footage of a hirsute Brit Hume, the onetime ABC newsman, now Fox News Channel anchor.

Moran cautioned against assuming that everything now is copacetic: "The CIA is running secret prisons, using coercive techniques like waterboarding," he reminded us.

MAYOR 9/11 MEETS REV 700 NBC has been making an effort over the last few weeks to offer profiles on the major Presidential candidates--and a potential one. In addition to the general run of election news, NBC's extra efforts have included Janet Shamlian on Barack Obama, Brian Williams on Michael Bloomberg, Ron Allen on Mitt Romney and Andrea Mitchell on Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now John Yang follows Rudolph Giuliani to Virginia, where he addressed Regent University and granted a 700 Club interview to the university's founder Pat Robertson, the onetime leader of the Christian Coalition. "Talk about strange bedfellows," quipped Yang--or maybe not so strange. Yang cited his own network's poll of white evangelical Christians, which showed Giuliani leading (22% v John McCain 19%, Fred Thompson 18%, Mitt Romney 12%) "despite reservations about Giuliani from virtually every leader of the religious right."

SIGNS OF A BUBBLE NBC launches a feature series on The New Rich profiling a hedge fund manager…a sequel to the movie Wall Street is in production featuring a hedge fund manager…new financial self-help book titles include Hedge Funds for Dummies. CNBC's Carl Quintanilla called hedge funds "all the rage on Wall Street." They are the "souped-up, private investing groups that bet aggressively on stocks, real estate, you name it, in ways your 401(k) plan just is not allowed" using "mind-boggling mathematical models." Quintanilla introduced us to manager Tim Seymour. He is willing to run your money if he can pocket 20% of the profits he makes and you can pony up his minimum investment--one million dollars.

IMPORT-EXPORT If you are rich you can sport Prada and Louis Vuitton and Gucci and Fendi and Rolex and Coach and Chanel--otherwise, if federal prosecutors are correct, you could have contacted the 29 "importers, trucking officials and freight handlers" arrested in a bust of a suspected counterfeit smuggling ring. CBS' Bob Orr reported that the alleged knock-offs were imported from China and "destined for the streets of New York." If the fake labels had been authentic the 950 shipments of merchandise would have sold for $700m. Unidentified customs officials told NBC's Pete Williams that "bringing in phony high-end material is actually more lucrative than smuggling drugs."

ABC took a different angle on trade with China. A recall has been announced for 450,000 imported tires for SUVs, vans and pick-up trucks because of the risk of tread separation. The brands concerned are Westlake, Compass, Telluride and YKS. Lisa Stark (subscription required) told us that 10% of all tires used in the United States are Chinese imports. She reminded us that this recall follows those for pet food ingredients, toothpaste and toy train sets--all with a Made in the People's Republic label.

SHRINKING SPORTS BEAT There is a subtle, but significant shift, in the networks' news agenda as they make the transition from pure television broadcasters to multi-platform providers of video news. The shift is dictated not by journalistic judgment but by the demands of the media. It presages a future of diminishing coverage of a pair of favorite feature beats.

That shift is most recently exemplified by the coverage of today's pair stories: a House committee held hearings into the shortfall of disability coverage for former NFL athletes; and Georgia police investigated the death of WWE pro wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and seven-year-old son in an apparent murder-suicide. CBS assigned a reporter to both stories and ABC had a reporter cover the former. But none of the three packages--each copiously illustrated by sports action footage--was posted online.

The explanation for their presence on television but their absence as video has nothing to do with journalism, and everything to do with copyright. The rights to use sports footage do not transfer from one medium to another so the footage at a correspondent's disposal to cover a sports story varies medium by medium. The same is true for journalism about show business.

Consider these examples: since the start of May, there have been 18 news stories that aired on ABC World News that have not been posted online; fully half of those (six sports stories, three show business stories) have been on subjects where video rights are difficult to clear. On CBS the same holds true: of the 13 CBS Evening News stories that have not been posted online, four were sports and three were show business.

In the absence of a dispensation on the use of copyrighted video footage, we can predict that video journalism of these two beats will decline as television news evolves into a multi-platform medium. NBC, the network with the least divergence between what it shows on television and what it makes available online, may be setting a trend. In the two month period since the beginning of May it has withheld only one show business story and zero sports stories from its online viewers--but it has covered both beats less heavily than its two rivals. NBC has broadcast five sports stories (ABC 10, CBS 10) and ten show business stories (ABC 18, CBS 13).

The major sports leagues and movie studios should relax their ban on online use of their footage in legitimate news stories. Otherwise two interesting--although admittedly inessential--areas of coverage will get squeezed out of the mainstream video news agenda.

UPDATE: Steve Safran (text link) at Lost Remote argues that the networks probably have the right to post their stories online under the fair use doctrine but fail to exercise that right to avoid the legal hassle of a cease and desist back and forth. That argument sounds plausible. All video journalists should be encouraged to enjoy an expansive and muscular reading of the fair use doctrine--with the networks leading the way, since they have deep enough pockets to pay their lawyers. What I am not clear about is whether the fair use doctrine applies worldwide or only in the United States. Does anyone know the legal consequences of a videostream containing uncleared content being seen outside the United States in a country that does not observe fair use?

FURTHER UPDATE: Brian Montopoli (text link) is sanguine at CBS' Public Eye blog. He sees the current confusion over copyright clearances as an interim legalistic purgatory. In time, he argues, sports leagues will ease restrictions on use of video in order to obtain online exposure and news networks will be eager to craft cross-platform agreements because of the popularity of sports and showbiz news.

Montopoli may be right. Nevertheless, here at Tyndall Report we prefer arguments based on free speech than ones based on copyright clearances. We would rather align ourselves with Safran's advocacy of fair use than with Montopoli's attachment to intellectual property.

HOT & BOTHERED A second day of coverage of the Lake Tahoe forest fire that was yesterday's Story of the Day (text link), saw CBS and NBC search for the wider picture. NBC's George Lewis noted that the threat of the fire for homes arises because "new residents keep coming." In the past 25 years, 8.6m new homes have been built within 30 miles of a western national forest. CBS' Bill Whitaker blamed the fire on "persistent drought conditions." Reservoirs are dropping throughout the west: "Nevadans worry Lake Mead could run dry in a decade."

Oddly, neither Whitaker nor Lewis linked the tinder-dry conditions to global warming climate change. Even more oddly, NBC's Anne Thompson invoked the "gas that fuels global warming" as a possible explanation for the increase in prevalence and strength of poison ivy in suburban backyards. Thompson did not explain why poison ivy in particular would thrive on carbon dioxide any more than rival vegetation, so her second theory--"the clearing of wooded areas to build homes"--seems sounder.

After years of undercovering global warming, there are signs that the networks are now trying to shoehorn it into stories where it does not belong. Last week, CBS' Mark Phillips invoked climate change as the pretext for a travelogue of tourist sites to illustrate worries about atmospheric effects on stonework; now Thompson tries to tell us An Inconvenient Truth about itching and scratching.

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: Tony Blair welcomed Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, to 10 Downing Street on his final day as Prime Minister of Britain…First Lady Laura Bush visited an HIV/AIDS hospital in Senegal…a radical Islamist group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Iraqi politicians at the al-Mansour Hotel in Baghdad.