Iraq was Story of the Day yet again as President George Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates both spoke out and the Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Gen David Petraeus to lead the military effort there. CBS and NBC led with the debate inside the Beltway over whether the Congress should oppose Bush's troop build-up in Baghdad. ABC chose the foreign policy angle: the President warned Iran not to infiltrate its agents into Iraq.    
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video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS warns Iranian agents not to aid insurgentsMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGen Petraeus may seek yet more reinforcementsDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGuerrilla raid in Karbala killed five GIsJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
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Breast cancer coverageMammogram clinics close, 1m fewer scans annuallyJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailCBSHuman Papilloma Virus STD can cause cancerVaccine for pre-pubescent girls debatedCynthia BowersChicago
video thumbnailCBSClinics provide healthcare for urban poorPhysician in Albany NY works for no salarySteve HartmanNew York State
video thumbnailABCPoverty: many children live in poor householdsYear in life of Camden NJ four-year-old profiledDiane SawyerNo Dateline
video thumbnailNBCHomelessness: street people lack affordable housingMiami allows small shantytown to be builtMichelle KosinskiMiami
video thumbnailNBCSmall Minnesota town revitalized by local groceryStore taken over by 17-year-old HS studentBob FawMinnesota
video thumbnailABCAcademy Awards ceremonies in HollywoodJennifer Hudson nominated as supporting actressCharles GibsonNew York
PETRAEUS TAKES COMMAND Iraq was Story of the Day yet again as President George Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates both spoke out and the Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Gen David Petraeus to lead the military effort there. CBS and NBC led with the debate inside the Beltway over whether the Congress should oppose Bush's troop build-up in Baghdad. ABC chose the foreign policy angle: the President warned Iran not to infiltrate its agents into Iraq.

ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) reported that the President threatened Teheran that its agents would be killed if they joined the fight against US troops--while reassuring Iran that any killing would be done on the Iraqi side of the border. Raddatz repeated the Pentagonese in explaining the gripe with Iran. Regular IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices or roadside bombs) have been improved into EFPs (Explosively Formed Penetrators or antitank weapons) and Teheran is accused of producing the upgrade.

Raddatz explained that the new weapons are being delivered to "insurgents" to fight against the US military. Her terminology is confusing. Usually the term "insurgent" refers to the Sunni resistance to the US military occupation and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad; whereas the term "militias" is used for irregular Shiite fighters and their sectarian death squads.

It is hard to believe that Shiite Teheran is providing sophisticated weaponry to the Sunni insurgents, the enemies of its own co-religionists.

BUILD-UP DECISION "I am the Decisionmaker," CBS' David Martin quoted Commander-in-Chief Bush as asserting. Not only is the White House determined to pursue its troop build-up whether or not Congress passes a resolution to oppose it, Martin suggested that Petraeus may ask for yet more reinforcements: "The army and the Marines will be stretched like never before…what they are really worried about is finding enough of the right equipment to send with them." NBC's David Gregory covered Gates' comment that any resolution against a build-up would convey the impression that there is "flagging will in the United States," despite the determination of Bush, Gates and Petraeus.

In Baghdad itself NBC's Richard Engel collected the comments of a USArmy Stryker patrol in the Hurriya neighborhood. The formulation "we are for the troops but against the war" irritated one sergeant: "If they are going to support us, support us all the way." CBS' Lara Logan was also on patrol with US soldiers but she was in the neighborhood of Dora. She followed the patrol into a Sunni mosque in pursuit of a suspected al-Qaeda gunman. A soldier told her of his realization: when he first arrived in Baghdad if he heard shots he assumed he was the target. "It took us a little while to realize that, hey, it is just them shooting at each other."

UNDERCOVER RAID All three networks covered a third Iraq development as details unfolded about a guerrilla raid on the governor's compound in Karbala last weekend that ended in five US military dead. On Monday Mike Boettcher had narrated an NBC News Animation of the raid that turned out to be incorrect. Only one of the five had been killed in the raid itself; the other four had been abducted and killed later.

ABC's Miguel Marquez called the assault "brazen and brutal" with the guerrillas dressed in US military uniform, speaking English, carrying US weapons and driving General Motors SUVs. His network's animation--dubbed a Virtual View--showed a convoy of black vehicles entering the compound (they were white in NBC's recreation, black in CBS' narrated by Bob Orr). After NBC's Jim Miklaszewski presented his network's revised animation, he drew this lesson for embedded US troops in Baghdad. They "will have to rely on the Iraqis for protection, just as they did in Karbala." Miklaszewski's unnamed source called those embedded forces "Custer at Little Big Horn."

FEMALE CONCERNS The costs and benefits of preventing cancer were the concern of CBS and ABC. ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) explored why one million fewer American women had mammograms for breast cancer in 2005 than five years earlier. Cost cutting in reimbursements for the procedure led to hundreds of clinics closing and declining ranks of radiologists. McKenzie did not estimate how much money had been saved by the cuts or how many otherwise preventable deaths will occur because of the missing scans. He settled for the vague conclusion that "thousands more breast cancers each year are going undiagnosed."

Cervical cancer was the subject of Cynthia Bowers' In Focus feature on CBS. In order to prevent most of the 3,670 annual deaths from the disease, several states want to make it compulsory that pre-teenage girls take shots of Gardasil, the vaccine that helps block the sexually transmitted virus that causes most cancers of the cervix. Each year two million sixth-grade girls are eligible for the shots that Merck sells for $360 each. Bowers' cost-benefit calculus, however, was not financial. She took the angle that the shots could function as a license to make love: telling young girls they should not have sex, while protecting them against sexual disease, might send a "mixed signal."

Of all the things that stimulate an adolescent girl's libido, lessening the risk of lethal cancer some two decades later is the least likely of aphrodisiacs.

ALWAYS WITH US Friday is always the featurest day of the week. On this day all three networks turned to poverty. CBS' closer Assignment America took Steve Hartman to "the worst neighborhood in Albany NY" where he profiled Dr Bob Paeglow, who runs an inner city clinic from which "he takes absolutely no salary." NBC's Michelle Kosinski was in Miami, where the city government decided not to shut down a downtown shantytown built by the homeless: instead it offered trash collection, job placement and affordable housing rehabilitation. "Now the city is working on getting them a mailbox."

And in a preview of her 20/20 special on poverty in Camden NJ, ABC's Diane Sawyer (subscription required) offered A Closer Look profile of a four-year-old boy. Her cameras followed Ivan Stevens for a year, including his first day of school, where he aced his 1-2-3s but stumbled on vocabulary: when asked to identify the three main meals of the day he was unable to answer, because he so often goes hungry.

THE TRUMAN SHOW NBC's Friday feature is Making a Difference. Bob Faw profiled the same Minnesota teenager that CBS' Hartman gave us six weeks ago. Nick Graham, a 17-year-old high school student, is trying to revitalize the "woebegone" small town of Truman by running its local grocery store. Faw's version cast a shadow over his inspirational message with the looming arrival of a nearby Wal-Mart. Graham's business plan to see off the big box--"If you try hard enough and are willing to work and stick to it, you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to"--seemed lacking in practicality.

IN YOUR DREAMS ABC, the network that airs the Academy Awards ceremonies each year, has the Person of the Week as its weekly closer. Anchor Charles Gibson chose Jennifer Hudson, Oscar-nominated as best performing actress for her role in Dreamgirls. Hudson had been a contestant on FOX's American Idol. Gibson could not resist replaying the taunt by the talent show's notorious Simon Cowell--"I do not think you are capable of doing anything better"--and then Cowell's gracious retraction: "There are good performances. Occasionally there are extraordinary performances. And that was extraordinary, Jennifer." Declared Hudson on ABC's The View talkshow: "We ain't fat. We are thick."

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: feuding between Hamas and Fatah for political control on the Gaza Strip continues…Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Baghdad to hold talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki…another carbomb exploded in Baghdad, this time in a pet market, raising the death toll in market bombs this week to 150...sales of new homes nationwide slumped by 17% in 2006.