CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 12, 2007
There was a split decision over the primary Persian Gulf hotspot. NBC continued the dominant theme of the week--Iraq. It led with more Senate hearings into President George Bush's primetime speech on Wednesday. ABC chose a potential new front in the regional conflict--Iran. CBS, with substitute anchor Russ Mitchell, turned away from foreign policy, to lead with the latest development in the Duke University lacrosse team sex scandal: prosecutor Mike Nifong has applied to recuse himself from the case. When all three newscasts are combined, Iraq remains Story of the Day.     
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 12, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPresident Bush proceeds in face of oppositionDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSecretary Gates testifies at Senate hearingsChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesUS troops patrol cleansed Hurriyah neighborhoodJonathan KarlBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesCivilians trapped by Haifa Street fightingLara LoganBaghdad
video thumbnailABC
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Iran military expansion feared in Persian GulfSuspect anti-US infiltration into IraqMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIran military expansion feared in Persian GulfSuspect anti-US infiltration into IraqDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABCMilitary personnel are rarely related to politiciansSenator Boxer, Secy Rice have no kin in uniformJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSMilitary personnel face family, personal problemsCouples offered marital counseling at retreatByron PittsDallas
video thumbnailABCCollege sports: Duke lacrosse team rape caseDistrict Attorney withdraws from prosecutionNancy Weiner CordesNew York
video thumbnailNBCHurricane Katrina aftermath along Gulf CoastInsurance firm loses storm surge lawsuitRon MottMississippi
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
IRAN OR IRAQ? There was a split decision over the primary Persian Gulf hotspot. NBC continued the dominant theme of the week--Iraq. It led with more Senate hearings into President George Bush's primetime speech on Wednesday. ABC chose a potential new front in the regional conflict--Iran. CBS, with substitute anchor Russ Mitchell, turned away from foreign policy, to lead with the latest development in the Duke University lacrosse team sex scandal: prosecutor Mike Nifong has applied to recuse himself from the case. When all three newscasts are combined, Iraq remains Story of the Day.

The first major political confrontation over Iraq will be a Congressional resolution to oppose the Bush announcement that he is ordering a reinforcement of US troops in Baghdad. From the White House, NBC's David Gregory noted that the President "finds himself more isolated than ever" after making a decision to override Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who wanted Iraqi forces to "take the lead in securing Baghdad."

The initial challenge from Congress, NBC's Chip Reid conceded, will be merely "symbolic" opposition. Reid predicted passage in the House and an attempted filibuster in the Senate. He counted votes and found seven Republicans--Gordon Smith, Chuck Hagel, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, George Voinovich, Sam Brownback, Norm Coleman--committed to voting against Bush's plan. So "four or five more" switchers will be required.

After that, NBC's Gregory wondered, the stakes may get higher: "Will, over time, Democrats in Congress restrict war funding? Will, over time, the President withdraw troops from Iraq if Iraqis fail to meet their commitments?"


DESOLATION ROW On the streets of Baghdad itself there were scenes of sheer desolation. ABC's Jonathan Karl (subscription required) followed a Second Infantry Division patrol through the streets of the ethnically cleansed Hurriyah neighborhood, "in the middle of a sectarian war that is nearly impossible to comprehend." He showed us a rubble-strewn deserted mosque: "Most of the people have simply abandoned their homes."

And on CBS, Lara Logan updated us on the week-long fighting along Haifa Street. She contacted Quaraish al-Kasir, a prominent Baghdad liver transplant surgeon, who lives in an apartment on the street: "We are living in a dark, dark flat, no electricity. We have no water. Really. We are shivering from cold, from fear. We are afraid from snipers…Any moving object will be shot."


SECOND IRAN-IRAQ WAR LOOMS The arrest of five suspected members of Teheran's Revolutionary Guard in a raid by US military of an office in Irbil in northern Iraq led ABC's newscast. From the White House, Martha Raddatz (subscription required) saw it as the culmination of a week of "strong warnings" by US officials against Iran, including by the President himself in his primetime TV speech. Raddatz' spook sources told her that in recent weeks Iran had smuggled large shipments of weapons to Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

From the Pentagon, unnamed sources told CBS' David Martin that the US has opened "a new front" in the war, "an aggressive and mostly secret ground campaign against networks of Iranians who had been operating with virtual impunity inside Iraq." Martin said that Iraq's southern marshes and its central Diyala Province were the main routes for Iranian infiltration. NBC did not follow up on Iran after Jim Miklaszewski mentioned the Irbil raid yesterday.


FORLORN FAMILIES ABC's Jake Tapper elaborated on Sen Barbara Boxer's questions of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings. Boxer, a mother and grandmother, insinuated that the single, childless Rice had questionable standing to make decisions about sending other women's children off to war.

Later, Rice responded, reasonably, on Fox News Channel: "I thought single women had come further than that." The California Democrat said she was trying "to focus on the people behind the casualty statistics," ABC's Tapper suggested, before surveying how few of the members of Congress did have close kin in uniform: four senators and nine House members.

As crass as Boxer may have been towards Rice, features by both ABC and CBS vindicated the senator's point. It is true that the vast majority of military families have no connection to the rich and famous. ABC's substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas filed a Person of the Week profile of Mary Moreno, a USMC reservist corporal's mother who formed her own mutual support group with other military mothers in Brazonia County Tex four years ago.

Concluding CBS' week-long Honor & Sacrifice series, Byron Pitts showed us a marital counseling retreat for soldiers home from war and their wives--the divorce rate among army personnel is 29% higher now than it was before the invasion of Iraq four years ago. The retreat's $1m annual budget receives no Pentagon funding. Veterans' champion Ross Perot pays instead.


DROPPING The local Durham NC sex scandal involving the Duke lacrosse players continues to be treated as a story worthy of national attention. CBS' decision to lead with the District Attorney Nifong's request for a replacement prosecutor was presumably influenced by cross-promotional possibilities: Lesley Stahl's exclusive interview with the defendants' families on 60 Minutes on Sunday was promo'ed later in the newscast.

Mitchell asked CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen to assess the implications for the case: "We may be seeing the endgame here," Cohen answered, with the case being dropped. The other two newscasts hardly ignored the Nifong news, however. ABC's Nancy Weiner Cordes pointed to the ethics charges for prosecutorial misconduct hanging over Nifong's head: "He dropped charges of rape last month."


TUNE IN ON SUNDAY By the way, besides Stahl's piece, also cross-promoted were George Stephanopoulos' profile of Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) on ABC's This Week and Scott Pelley's profile of Bush on 60 Minutes. Pelley asked the President about the possibility of Congress blocking his troop build-up in Iraq: "I have made my decision and we are going forward."


WATER FROM WIND NOT FLOOD NBC, the network that is committed to the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, sent Ron Mott to Biloxi to file an In Depth report into the federal court ruling that a storm surge is part of a hurricane, so the insurance industry is liable to pay for resulting water damage even if a homeowner had no flood insurance. The upshot, Mott predicted, will be home insurance cancelations along the eastern coastline from Texas to New England.

ABC's Katrina update stayed true to substitute anchor Vargas' preference for baby stories. Steve Osunsami (subscription required) told us about the flooded New Orleans fertility clinic whose frozen embryos had to be rescued by boat before they thawed: Rebekah Markham's egg was among those saved and she is now expecting.


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 US embassy in Athens is hit by a rocket…Retail sales for the month of December were stronger than expected…the House of Representatives approves revisions to the Medicare prescription drug benefit.