CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 18, 2007
NBC was the network that won the scoop two weeks ago about infant car seats. The magazine Consumer Reports had conducted crash tests and found that ten out of twelve major brands had "failed disastrously." So it was only right that NBC should lead with the expose of the flaws in those same tests. Crashes purportedly staged at 38 mph had actually occurred at twice the speed. All three networks covered the story, making the magazine's retraction the Story of the Day.     
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video thumbnailNBCAuto safety: infant car seats crash testsConsumer Reports retracts negative findingsTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesRetired generals testify against build-upDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABCIraq: political coalition government under firePM al-Maliki claims crackdown against al-SadrDan HarrisBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCIraq: political coalition government under firePM al-Maliki accuses US of undercutting himDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailABC
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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales under fireGrilled by Senate panel on civil libertiesPierre ThomasWashington DC
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Smoking: nicotine content of cigarettes increasesTobacco industry accused of sabotaging quittersBill WeirNew York
video thumbnailCBSBlindness and visual disability aids developedCamera-to-tongue electrode system scans imagesDaniel SiebergWisconsin
video thumbnailNBCGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeAncient carbon data found in Antarctica iceLawrence McGintyAntarctica
video thumbnailABCLongevity research and life expectancy statisticsStudy Costa Rica, California, Sardinia, OkinawaNed PotterNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CONSUMER REPORTS RETRACTS NBC was the network that won the scoop two weeks ago about infant car seats. The magazine Consumer Reports had conducted crash tests and found that ten out of twelve major brands had "failed disastrously." So it was only right that NBC should lead with the expose of the flaws in those same tests. Crashes purportedly staged at 38 mph had actually occurred at twice the speed. All three networks covered the story, making the magazine's retraction the Story of the Day.

NBC's Tom Costello filed both stories, on the seats' supposed failure, and on Consumer Reports' admitted failure. The magazine "is indeed in damage control," Costello declared, after the federal NHTSA had checked its results and contradicted them. The magazine had hired an outside firm to conduct the crashes.

CBS' Bob Orr and ABC's Lisa Stark also filed on the same story. Stark, in A Closer Look, called it a "huge black eye for a magazine millions have come to depend on." Yet none of the three reports made an estimate of the financial damage Consumer Reports may have caused, either to the unfairly accused manufacturers or to any parents who may have discarded seats they believed to be flawed and purchased replacements.


OLD SOLDIERS CBS' choice for lead was Iraq. A quartet of retired generals appeared at a Capitol Hill hearing to discuss the President's troop reinforcement plan. It was fitting that David Martin should cover the panel from the Pentagon since he represented a neutral party. In favor of the plan was ABC consultant Jack Keane, but "even he acknowledged that success depends on an unknown quantity," the performance of the government in Baghdad. Opposed was NBC consultant Barry McCaffrey: "with all due respect it is a fool's errand," he testified. CBS' retired brass was not represented.

Yesterday, NBC's David Gregory reported on the jockeying among Democratic Presidential hopefuls over Iraq policy. Next it was ABC's turn. Jake Tapper (subscription required) outlined the "one-upsmanship" between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards. "I will see your cap and raise you a phased deployment. Welcome to the 2008 Presidential campaign," was the soundbite Tapper used from CNN's political analyst Paul Begala.

As for the Republicans, CBS' Bob Schieffer found "virtually no enthusiasm" for George Bush's build-up plan in the Senate. The GOP resolution may say no more than "the President has a right to do this--it will not say that his plan is a good one."

A second strand to the Iraq story was the status of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

ABC's Dan Harris took the Baghdad angle, where it seems that al-Maliki may have decided to confront his long-time ally Muqtada al-Sadr, the preacher leader of the Mahdi Army militia. "The final attack against has started," Harris quoted al-Sadr in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica as declaring after 400 of his followers were reportedly arrested, "but the Mahdi Army will survive."

NBC's Gregory took the White House angle, where it seems that al-Maliki may have decided to confront his long-time patron, President Bush. In an interview to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra the Prime Minister criticized Bush's criticism of Saddam Hussein's execution: "He is overwhelmed by the media and politicians." In an interview with the London newspaper The Times he claimed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's words "are giving moral boosts to the terrorists."


EVERYTHING CHANGED Only ABC covered a more combative set of hearings, conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pierre Thomas (subscription required) documented the grilling of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about any erosion of civil liberties that may have occurred because of the conduct of the War on Terrorism: CIA rendition and torture of suspects, CIA domestic spying and NSA warrantless wiretaps. In his own defense Gonzales stated: "At the Department of Justice, every day is September 12th."


HOOKED Ever since its late anchor Peter Jennings was diagnosed with lung cancer, ABC has covered smoking more heavily than its two rivals put together. Total coverage for the past two years (2005 and 2006) of cigarettes and lung cancer combined show 82 minutes on ABC (CBS 32, NBC 41). Following this pattern, ABC selected a cigarette story for its lead that the other two networks did not even mention in passing.

Bill Weir (subscription required) reported on a Harvard study that the strength of the nicotine in every type of cigarettes has increased steadily, up 11% since 1997. RJR Reynolds blames the spike on the "natural variability of tobacco crops," a claim disputed by anti-industry activists, citing the intense quality controls that cigarette manufacturing employs. Even if it true that Big Tobacco boosted nicotine to make more smokers addicted, Weir observed, it "broke no laws."


REPEAT VIEWING As the saying goes, that is the thing about the brain--it makes you think.

CBS filed the second part of its A User's Guide to the Brain series, a collaboration with Time magazine. Yesterday, Sanjay Gupta arrived from CNN, Time's news sibling, to tell us about the brain's plasticity: how cognitive abilities can improve even as we age. Next, Daniel Sieberg took us to Wicab, a hi-tech company in Wisconsin, that is developing the Brainport, a camera gadget to enable the blind to see.

The tip-of-the-tongue concept Sieberg is trying to explain literally makes one's brain spin. I defy anybody to look at this video just once.


SPANNING THE WORLD Both ABC and NBC made use of others' resources to air fancy globetrotting to exotic locales. NBC aired an In Depth report from its London partner ITN: reporter Lawrence McGinty crawled inside a crevasse in Antarctica to explain how global warming climatologists extract ancient ice cores to trace fluctuations of carbon levels in the atmosphere. ABC's Ned Potter never left New York in his report on Dan Buettner of the Quest Network's Blue Zone, an anthropologist who studies those cultures where longevity is the norm. Courtesy of Quest, Potter showed us the vibrant elderly of Sardinia, Okinawa and Costa Rica.


NO JOKE Beloved political humorist Art Buchwald of The Washington Post died, aged 81, after a longer-than-expected terminal kidney illness. CBS' Bill Plante (no link) filed an obituary, including this delightful soundbite: "Since Henry Kissinger left office I am the only sex symbol left in Washington."

When he was waiting to die, he asked his friends to contribute a eulogy to his final book Too Soon to Say Goodbye. "None of them was funny," he complained to NBC's Tom Brokaw. "Well, that is because we care about you," Brokaw answered non-responsively.


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 House of Representatives passed the sixth and last of its promised package of initial legislation, a alternative energy subsidy…an audit of federal funding for post-war reconstruction in Iraq finds massive waste…an unusually strong storm batters western Europe.