CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 12, 2007
Veterans Day was observed one day late because the eleventh of the eleventh fell on a Sunday. The public holiday made this a very light day of news. Not a single story was considered important enough to be covered by a correspondent from all three networks. The three networks split on what the day's lead should be. ABC led with feature footage from the fighting in Afghanistan, shot in collaboration with Vanity Fair magazine. NBC led with a preview of the crowded skies for Thanksgiving travel. CBS led with the lightly-covered Story of the Day, the continuing clean-up of last Wednesday's fuel oil spill in San Francisco Bay.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR NOVEMBER 12, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailCBSOil spill pollutes San Francisco BayCrab fishery shut down; Coast Guard questionedJohn BlackstoneSan Francisco
video thumbnailABC2008 Presidential race Democratic field overviewRodham Clinton under fire from Obama, EdwardsDavid WrightWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSSen Ted Stevens (R-AK) faces graft investigationLinked to Veco oil services bribery convictionBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCWar on Drugs: crack cocaine prison terms reducedCommutation expected for 20K federal inmatesPete WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCPakistan politics: state of emergency declaredFormer PM Bhutto is skilled media managerRichard EngelPakistan
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingLethal village combat in Korengal ValleyBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSIsrael-Palestinian conflictGaza Strip blockade eluded by smugglers' tunnelsElizabeth PalmerGaza
video thumbnailNBCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseEmpty properties ruin urban neighborhoodsKevin TibblesCleveland
video thumbnailNBCMilitary veterans rejoin civilian societyUSNavy corpsman becomes Cleveland firefighterLee CowanCleveland
video thumbnailABC
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Airline travel: disruptions, delays, cancelationsPassengers warned of looming holiday congestionDavid KerleyWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
HOLIDAY FROM HEAVY NEWS Veterans Day was observed one day late because the eleventh of the eleventh fell on a Sunday. The public holiday made this a very light day of news. Not a single story was considered important enough to be covered by a correspondent from all three networks. The three networks split on what the day's lead should be. ABC led with feature footage from the fighting in Afghanistan, shot in collaboration with Vanity Fair magazine. NBC led with a preview of the crowded skies for Thanksgiving travel. CBS led with the lightly-covered Story of the Day, the continuing clean-up of last Wednesday's fuel oil spill in San Francisco Bay.

Both ABC's Brian Rooney (subscription required) and CBS' John Blackstone reported on the Coast Guard's progress in cleaning up the spill from the Chinese-owned container ship Cosco Busan as she left port in Oakland: of the 58,000 gallons that leaked into the bay after the ship crashed into a Bay Bridge pylon almost 20,000 has either evaporated or been collected. The only explanation why Blackstone claimed the opposite--that "the oil keeps spreading"--was to hype the retelling of a story he had already covered on Thursday. Rooney, by contrast, was relaxed about the situation, not even traveling to San Francisco but narrating videotape instead from Los Angeles. Rooney worried that the spill "threatens several sensitive species in the bay's mudflats and marshes." Blackstone introduced us the crabbers on Fisherman's Wharf whose pots are stacked idle on dry land because of the pollution.

No network sent a reporter to the Kerch Strait that joins the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea where storms with 18-foot waves killed three sailors and caused five vessels to founder. A tanker broke apart, spilling one million gallons of fuel oil.


NATURAL FEAR OF POSSIBILITY Following the Jefferson Jackson Dinner held by Iowa Democrats this weekend, both NBC and ABC checked in on the race for the Presidential nomination. ABC's David Wright saw frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton "on the defensive" as Barack Obama and John Edwards "are both turning up the heat, their approach almost good-cop-bad-cop." Wright played Obama's applause line at the dinner: "Triangulating and poll driven positions, because we are worried what Mitt or Rudy might say about us, just will not do." Rodham Clinton herself was accused of answering softball questions planted with audience members by aides, "a timeworn political trick," as Andrea Mitchell called it for NBC's In Depth. Mitchell noted that Rodham Clinton still has a tidy lead over Obama among African-American Democrats. She played a soundbite from an interview on the topic by Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC's Morning Joe with would-be First Lady Michelle Obama. "I am completely confident black America will wake up and get it," the candidate's wife predicted. "What we are dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility…always being told by somebody that I am not ready."


GRAFT & CRACK SCANDALS In Washington, CBS' justice correspondent Bob Orr got hold of undercover FBI surveillance videotape from a pinhole camera in an hotel room in Juneau, the state capital of Alaska. The black-and-white footage formed part of the back story in an investigation into possible graft by Sen Ted Stevens, the senior Republican. The cameras showed Bill Allen, head of an oil services firm, and a pair of legislators, Pete Kott and Vic Kohring. The trio has been convicted in a $400,000 bribery scheme to deliver tax breaks to VECO, Allen's business. Now, Orr speculated, "even bigger political shoes could drop" as they in turn may be ratting on Stevens and his son Ben, "a former state senator who, Allen says, collected nearly $250,000 in payoffs." On the video Kott brags "I had to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie." Neither Stevens fils nor Stevens pere has been charged with any crime.

There may be relief in the scandal of federal prison sentences for cocaine, whereby identical amounts of the drug incur harsher punishment when in its rock variety compared with its powdered form. The federal Sentencing Commission has already equalized the disparity for future convictions. It now proposes commuting past sentences. NBC's justice correspondent Pete Williams reckoned that some 20,000 inmates, many of whom have already served ten to 15 years, will be released an average of two years early. The Justice Department does not see justice in righting this wrong against these inmates, more than 80% of whom are black: "Crack defendants, as a whole, generally have a higher criminal history and a greater use of guns and violence in the manner that they distribute their cocaine," DoJ spokeswoman Deborah Rhodes told Williams.


GLOBAL GLIMPSES Each of the three networks offered a fascinating feature from overseas. NBC had Richard Engel provide us with a backgrounder from Islamabad on Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, now held in house arrest under Pakistan's martial law. Engel called the Harvard-educated Bhutto a "shrewd, complicated and controversial politician" whose return from exile has produced a series of "media moments" including the rent-a-crowd rally that greeted her in Karachi and her "behind the barbed wire" press conference in Rawalpindi. Engel reminded us that Bhutto "has already ruled this country unsuccessfully" during two terms in office being "something of the dictator herself." Her exile came in response to charges of pocketing "$1.5bn in kickbacks on government contracts."

On CBS, Elizabeth Palmer claimed Exclusive access to the smuggling tunnels that are a lifeline for the Gaza Strip. Beneath the "wasteland" that is Gaza's western border with Egypt, Palmer found "a subterranean maze that makes a mockery of Israel's effort to seal off Gaza." Palmer ticked off the contraband that passes down the two-feet-wide conduits: weapons, explosives, human beings, cigarettes, medicine, Iranian cash--fully 10% of all imports, according to the United Nations. She asked a smuggler how the tunneling is financed: a venture capitalist provides start-up funds and then when the tunnel opens and goods begin to flow "we split the money between us."

In New York, ABC's Brian Ross narrated footage from Afghanistan's Korengal Valley by Vanity Fair's Tim Hetherington. Operation Rock Avalanche, conducted by the USArmy's 173rd Airborne, was designed to disrupt "militants operating out of homes in the villages" who were "connected" with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. "From day one the mission goes bad." An initial helicopter airstrike kills five villagers and injures seven more, including children. "The village elders are furious and tempers on both sides flare when the elders say there are no Taliban here." A GI accuses an elder of calling him "a liar," implying that if he was shot at, it could only have been by a Taliban bullet. Days later ambushes struck and three platoon members were killed. "The hunters had become the hunted," Ross asserted--although he did repeat the claim of unidentified "military commanders" that the Taliban in the valley had been "badly disrupted."


ON THE SHORES OF LAKE ERIE NBC anchor Brian Williams went on the road to Cleveland where he introduced a trio of local features. Just as Dan Harris (subscription required) did last Friday for ABC's Mortgage Mess, Kevin Tibbles showed us the neighborhood ruin caused by home mortgage foreclosures in Cleveland, the city with "the highest concentration in the nation." Slavic Village is "a virtual ghost town…It can happen overnight: the family moves out; the scavengers move in, stripping off the aluminum siding, taking the copper wiring, copper piping and leaving the home wide open for the criminal element." And Robert Bazell visited the Cleveland Clinic for a similar feature to the Forced to be Fit story Dean Reynolds filed last week for CBS about employers creating "health and wellness initiatives" for their workers. The Clinic hires no smokers, serves no transfats in its cafeteria and has tried--but failed--to evict a McDonald's franchise from the hospital lobby.


IN AND OUT OF UNIFORM Being Veterans Day, all three networks closed on a military theme. NBC's example from Cleveland had Lee Cowan profile Victor Lewis, a retired USNavy corpsman, who now saves lives as a firefighter at Station 22. CBS sent Mark Strassmann to San Antonio to introduce us to the McCottry family of four children and a single-for-the-while master sergeant father. His USArmy captain wife is deployed in Baghdad. Charles and Barbara McCottry are one of 80,000 pairs of military spouses with both on active duty. On ABC, Jonathan Karl related the heroics of USArmy Lt Bryan Johnson. He saved the lives of two comrades from an ambush in Iraq's Anbar Province and is now decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross.


STUFFED AS TURKEYS Both ABC and NBC looked forward to the next holiday. NBC chose to lead with Tom Costello's coverage of the airline industry's heads up that smooth Thanksgiving flying "is going to depend largely on the weather." He ran through the precautions being taken to avoid delays and cancelations: the FAA will open more departure routes from northeastern hubs; the airlines are increasing staffing levels of reservation agents, baggage handlers and pilots; and, ominously, terminals are "stocking up on food, water and cots just in case." ABC's David Kerley (subscription required) was skeptical, pointing to planes flying at 90% capacity--"meaning if you are bumped or delayed there is virtually no place to put you."


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: must be the weak dollar--Pope Benedict XVI is planning to visit Washington DC and New York City next spring…the American Red Cross apologized for selling doughnuts to GIs, rather than giving them away, in 1942…the Right to Life Committee has endorsed Republican Fred Thompson for President…fighting between Hamas and Fatah broke out during a memorial rally on the third anniversary of the death of Palestine Liberation Organization founder Yasser Arafat.