President George Bush's hour in the spotlight was brief. The day after his State of the Union speech all three networks led their newscasts from Capitol Hill instead of the White House. The Story of the Day was the Iraq War and the vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to oppose, but not to prevent, Bush's troop reinforcement in Baghdad.    
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video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSenate committee votes to oppose build-up planJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSenate committee votes to oppose build-up planChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCState of the Union address by President BushTone was bipartisan, subdued, modestDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailABC
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Healthcare reform: universal and managed careTax deduction proposed to help uninsuredLisa StarkWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSGlobal warming greenhouse effect climate changeStudy traces carbon levels over last 10K yearsMark PhillipsLondon
video thumbnailABCMilitary reserves, National Guard call-up extendedReservist nurse loses job after repeat call-upDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesBaghdad fighting on Haifa Street, IEDs in DoraLara LoganBaghdad
video thumbnailABC
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Pope John Paul II rememberedTrusted aide Cardinal Dziwisz writes memoirDavid WrightVatican
BAGHDAD BUILD-UP OPPOSED President George Bush's hour in the spotlight was brief. The day after his State of the Union speech all three networks led their newscasts from Capitol Hill instead of the White House. The Story of the Day was the Iraq War and the vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to oppose, but not to prevent, Bush's troop reinforcement in Baghdad.

This resolution is unlikely to be approved by the full Senate since only one Republican, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, joined all of the Democrats on the committee in supporting it. However, NBC's Chip Reid noted that "Republicans were also deeply split…only a single Republican made a clear statement in favor of the President's build-up." Republican John Warner has drafted a second resolution, whose wording ABC's Jake Tapper called "tamer" than the first draft's "not in the national interest." CBS' Sharyl Attkisson predicted "subtle language changes" leading to a bipartisan majority in the Senate voting against the President's plan.

ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported that the lack of Republican support for the wording was the result of furious lobbying by the White House: "They actually believe they made some progress." An unnamed senator told him the eventual full floor debate will be "real, gut-level, heart-felt." And CBS' Jim Axelrod (no link) characterized the White House reaction to the committee vote as "defiant" playing a soundbite from Vice President Dick Cheney's interview on CNN's The Situation Room to make his point: "We are moving forward…it is far too soon for the talking heads on television to conclude that it is impossible to do."

POST-GAME The three networks differed on their day-after State of the Union coverage. Even though ABC's Charles Gibson stayed to anchor from Washington for a second day, only NBC covered the speech proper. David Gregory called the President's tone "subdued" and his agenda "modest." He was "somber as he pleaded for patience on the war." Ron Allen collected the reactions a focus group from Allentown in the famous ideological swing district of Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. Tim Russert calculated that Bush's speech had failed to galvanize Republican support on Iraq but might have attracted Democratic support on immigration: "If he can deliver half of the Republicans in both houses of Congress they can put together a comprehensive immigration bill."

UNINSURED & UNMENTIONED The other two networks focused on single aspects of the State of the Union. ABC's Lisa Stark (subscription required) examined Bush's plan to change healthcare tax deductions to encourage uninsured workers to purchase their own coverage. The plan is predicted to add up to 5m to the rolls of the insured but leave 40m still uncovered. ABC's Timothy Johnson (no link) was skeptical: it diverts attention away from "the terrible waste and inefficiency in our health insurance system;" it is "tinkering with taxes rather than reforming healthcare."

CBS concentrated on what the President did not say. Armen Keteyian visited a trailer park for New Orleans evacuees on a crime-ridden, mud-soaked lot near Baton Rouge. He described one State of the Union viewer's "rage rising" as his plight was ignored. "I almost broke my TV, knocked it off the stand." Keteyian counted 5,596 of the President's words, "not a single one was either Katrina or Louisiana."

WARMING LACKS W’S CBS made a fanfare about Mark Phillips' story from London on global warming. In an Exclusive, he obtained an advance copy of the "long-awaited" report on the sudden spike in atmospheric carbon following the industrial revolution. He listed the dire consequences to the planet that will result from all those greenhouse gasses: more heatwaves, more intense tropical storms, higher sea levels. But Phillips did not tell us who wrote the report or for whom or what clout it will have to accomplish its suggested policy changes--fewer emissions, better conservation and evacuation of some coastal cities. We were just told it was an "international panel of top climate scientists."

NO GOOD DEED When ABC's former World News anchor Bob Woodruff was nearly killed last year in Iraq, one of the surgical nurses who helped save his life was Debra Muhl, a colonel in the USAF reserves. ABC returned the favor by taking up Muhl's cause after she was laid off by her civilian employer, Sutter Health in Sacramento, following a second deployment to Iraq. David Muir took A Closer Look at Muhl's lawsuit: the firm's position was that "they were reducing costs and had already decided they were eliminating Muhl's position;" the colonel's reply was to ask "why did she find out only after she told them she was going back to Iraq."

WATCHING YOU CBS' Lara Logan filed on the fighting in Baghdad. The bulk of her report concerned defense against roadside bombs, so-called IEDs, in the Dora neighborhood. But she led with the third week of house-to-house fighting along Baghdad's Haifa Street. What was unusual about the coverage was that the video was not collected by journalists but by the US military. NBC aired some of the same footage, with a Department of Defense credit, but did not assign a reporter to cover the combat.

Another official source of images was London's elaborate system of CCTV surveillance. Footage from the Underground is being used as evidence in the trial of a would-be mass transit bomber. Ramzi Mohammed is accused of attempting a follow-up subway car bombing two weeks after the successful explosions in July 2005. In NBC's In Depth report, Lisa Myers (no link) narrated the indistinct, black-and-white, freeze-frame shots of the flubbed attempt. When the bomb did not explode its ingredients leaked onto the floor of the car. The defendant allegedly explained to a fellow passenger that the mess was bread. He ran off and the CCTV also showed his getaway.

SKI BUM Pope John Paul II continues to make news even after his death. ABC's David Wright (subscription required) gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the pontiff's reign with a plug for a new book A Life With Karol by his closest confidant Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. Back in 1978 he muttered to his friend in Roman slang: "What have they done, electing a Polish Pope?" After meeting Mother Teresa, he told her he "wished he could run the Vatican from Calcutta." He would sneak past the Swiss Guard incognito to go skiing: "He rode the lifts with everyone else."

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: John Kerry decides not to run for President in 2008…President Bush stages a photo op to promote alternatives to gasoline…on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at another all-time high…further misconduct charges are brought against Raleigh NC District Attorney Mike Nifong in the Duke University lacrosse team sex scandal.