CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 14, 2007
A test of security screeners at 19 airport terminals by federal watchdogs was the Story of the Day. Both ABC and CBS led with a probe by one agency, the Government Accountability Office, of the performance by a second, the Transportation Security Administration. A pair of GAO operatives successfully passed through security with common household ingredients that could be used to build a $150 bomb, if assembled MacGyver-style on the other side of TSA checkpoints. NBC scored a pair of Exclusives: one, a follow-up on yesterday's CIA guilty plea, led the newscast; a second contained chilling images of depravity in Serbian mental institutions.    
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Airline travel: anti-terrorism security precautionsGAO exposes flaws in screening bomb ingredientsDavid KerleyWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCCIA officer violated FBI Hezbollah databaseHad Baghdad job interrogating al-Qaeda suspectsAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCSerbia abuse of mentally disabled exposedConfined in warehouses, tied to cots, neglectedAnn CurrySerbia
video thumbnailCBSIraq: civilian contractors provide logistics supportNisoor Square shooting left 14 wrongful deathsDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence diminishesBaghdad street commerce revives, curfew relaxedTom AspellBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSMilitary personnel suffer mental health problemsVA is not prepared for flood of patientsArmen KeteyianWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseLatest statistics show double last year's rateDiana OlickWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSReal estate suburban developer goes bankruptLevitt halts construction; buyers lose depositsKelly CobiellaFlorida
video thumbnailABC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignButt of Republican vox pop insults as bitchKate SnowWashington DC
video thumbnailABCMyanmar politics: military dictatorship protestedBurmese opposition monks confined to monasteriesJim SciuttoMyanmar
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED A test of security screeners at 19 airport terminals by federal watchdogs was the Story of the Day. Both ABC and CBS led with a probe by one agency, the Government Accountability Office, of the performance by a second, the Transportation Security Administration. A pair of GAO operatives successfully passed through security with common household ingredients that could be used to build a $150 bomb, if assembled MacGyver-style on the other side of TSA checkpoints. NBC scored a pair of Exclusives: one, a follow-up on yesterday's CIA guilty plea, led the newscast; a second contained chilling images of depravity in Serbian mental institutions.

The TSA flaws exposed by the GAO were not really serious enough to deserve such fanfare. CBS' Bob Orr hyped the expose by asserting that "six full years after 9/11 US aviation remains a vulnerable target." But the improvised explosive device envisioned by the GAO would be useless in mounting a 9/11-style attack: it could not hijack four planes simultaneously nor crash them into skyscrapers. Worst case, Orr reported, was that the handmade bomb "could cause severe damage to an airplane and threaten the safety of passengers." NBC's Tom Costello (at the tail of his United-Delta merger videostream) concurred that such an explosion "would have caused significant damage to an airplane, possibly injuries or loss of life." On ABC, David Kerley (subscription required) noted that the GAO found no fault with airport terminal personnel: they "appeared to follow TSA procedures and used technology appropriately." The problem was that each of the bomb's components was, singly, both harmless and legal--and that there are "publicly available instructions" for its assembly.


SCOOPS ON CIA & SERBIA Of NBC's pair of Exclusives, the story from Serbia by Today newscaster Ann Curry was the more compelling. NBC decided to lead with Andrea Mitchell, however, and her update on Nada Prouty, the 38-year-old Lebanese-born CIA spy, who yesterday (text link) admitted searching an FBI database for secrets on the Beirut-based militia Hezbollah. Prouty, it turned out, had been recruited from the FBI by the CIA's clandestine service and given "the highest security clearances." She worked in the CIA's Baghdad bureau "assigned to debrief high-value al-Qaeda targets in Iraq." As a consequence of her case, Mitchell mused drily, the CIA now says it will "not rely so heavily on the FBI for background checks."

Curry publicized a report by Mental Disability Rights International into the systematic practice of warehousing in Serbia. She reported that more than 17,000 "children and adults with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy" are confined in institutions, "left alone and emaciated, their bodies disfigured from years of neglect." Curry showed us the example of one cot. "The staff told us that this little girl, Jasmina, is actually a teenager." She drew back a blanket. "Oh! My gosh! This is a 15-year-old girl?" Curry quizzed Rasim Ljajic, Serbia's Minister of Social Policy, about remedies. "How long is this going to take? Years?" "Sadly yes." Concluded Curry: "Years become lifetimes."


BALLOONS, BARBERS, ICE CREAM, WEDDINGS Again the Blackwater USA killings in Baghdad's Nisoor Square are of special interest to CBS (17 reports v ABC 4, NBC 10). From the Pentagon, David Martin reported that "a still ongoing FBI investigation" has contradicted the bodyguards' claims that they fired in self-defense. Instead the feds have concluded that 14 of the 17 civilians who died "were killed without justification." Martin quoted a fellow journalist named Robert Young Pelton describing his experience traveling with Blackwater bodyguards back in 2004. Firing their weapons was "very, very common and typical." Pelton claimed that the bodyguards "were doing exactly what the State Department wanted--guns bristling and frequently blazing--to protect diplomats."

From Baghdad itself, NBC's Tom Aspell added to a quartet of recent reports by ABC's Miguel Marquez (here, here, here and here) on the diminishing violence in Iraq. Aspell offered anecdotes: balloons for sale on the street, barber shops reopening, busy ice cream stands, wedding halls back in business. The city's dawn-to-dusk curfew has been relaxed. It used to be that "only soldiers and death squads moved around at night"--now residents can now stay outside until midnight. But lest one should mistake such an improvement for absolute security, Aspell reminded us that, nationwide, Iraq still suffered 400 rocket and mortar attacks in the month of October and 750 civilian deaths from violence.


WAR DRIVES SOLDIERS MAD CBS had Armen Keteyian follow up on yesterday's Investigation into the high suicide rate among both active duty military and military veterans. He found the Veterans Administration "struggling to cope" with a booming demand for mental healthcare. He cited statistics that fully 28% of veterans of army service in Iraq are mentally ill and that veterans comprise 25% of the homeless population. Why has the agency not expanded to handle such an influx? Keteyian quoted the explanation from activist Paul Sullivan, spokesman for Veterans for Common Sense: "We call it the don't-look-don't-find policy. The VA does not collect the data then it does not have to do anything about it."


HOMES FOR SALE IN STOCKTON NBC and ABC both quoted the latest statistics from RealtyTrac on the dire state of the housing market while CBS examined its fallout on one famous developer. As usual, NBC assigned economic reporting to its sibling network CNBC. The cable channel's housing correspondent Diana Olick contrasted the 630,000 homes going through foreclosure nationwide in the third quarter of 2007 with 800,000, the total for all four quarters of 2005. "And there will likely be no let up in these foreclosure numbers as all of those risky low rate loans that fueled the housing boom will continue to reset--right to the end of this decade." The worst cities are Stockton Cal, Detroit, Riverside Cal, Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas; the worst states are California, Ohio and Florida. Reported ABC's Jeffrey Kofman (subscription required) from Miami-Dade: back in the spring of 2005 the county had 14,000 condos and homes listed for sale; today the total is 88,000. Levitt & Sons is the famous name profiled by CBS' Kelly Cobiella, the original builder of suburbia immediately after World War II, the eponymous Levittown on Long Island. Now Levitt is in bankruptcy, unable to complete 30 southeastern subdivisions in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida: "Some 600 customers, many of them retirees, with $18m in deposits, are in limbo."


BEAT THE BITCH Hillary Rodham Clinton was the topic for a pair of reports on ABC. Kate Snow remarked on how polarizing she is, "her strongest supporters intense in their support, her biggest detractors even more intense." Snow's case in point was the tiny spot of trouble candidate John McCain found himself in when he chuckled at--rather than repudiating--a Republican questioner in South Carolina: "How do we beat the bitch?" Previewing tomorrow's Democratic candidates' debate, George Stephanopoulos remarked that Rodham Clinton received "a big dose of Excedrin" from her home state's Gov Eliot Spitzer when he nixed the plan for immigrant driver's licenses that had given her such a headache at the last debate (text link). Yet rival Barack Obama is still hammering away at her "character and credibility," as Stephanopoulos put it, quoting Obama's twofer statement that tied those licenses to the supposedly planted softball questions that NBC's Andrea Mitchell covered on Monday: "When it takes two weeks and six different positions to answer one question on immigration, it is easy to understand why the Clinton campaign would rather plant their questions than answer them."

Stephanopoulos then turned to the Republican race with a heads-up on Mike Huckabee, following the CBS News poll (text link) from Iowa that anchor Katie Couric cited yesterday: "He is a former Southern Baptist preacher. He has got a great sense of humor, a real home touch. He is in sync with the activists on these social issues." Stephanopoulos predicted that both Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson would now target Huckabee. Huckabee's response: "No one comes out of the Arkansas political environment with a glass jaw."


SEETHING MONKS Pakistan had a day out of the headlines. ABC turned its attention to another former jewel of the British Raj. After a hiatus in coverage following September's crackdown by Myanmar's military junta on the pro-democracy protests led by Burmese Buddhist monks, Jim Sciutto posed as a tourist with videocamera and traveled to Mandalay to file his Exclusive. "In public the monks appeared peaceful; in private they were seething with anger," Sciutto found. Some were "locked inside their monasteries…many others were imprisoned far in the countryside, far from the public eye." The revolution, he reported, "goes on underground."


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: a Richter 7.7 earthquake hit the copper mining region of northern Chile…in Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf postponed the date for the resignation of his military commission until the end of the month…a Japanese lunar probe returned images of a so-called Earthset below the moon's horizon.