CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 15, 2007
See! That was not so difficult, was it? Teddy Roosevelt's saw about the White House being the Bully Pulpit was in danger of being discredited. George Bush, the current occupant, had not used his platform to make headlines for more than a month. The last time the President's actions were treated as Story of the Day on the nightly newscasts was back on October 3rd, when Bush vetoed the S-CHIP plan to extend healthcare coverage for children. Finally, he unveiled a package of proposals to relieve fears about congested airline travel over the Thanksgiving holiday--a modest initiative, to be sure, but enough to attract more coverage than any other story. So Bush may have attracted most time yet Barry Bonds grabbed headlines. All three newscasts decided to lead with sports, as the baseball slugger was indicted for perjury in an attempt to conceal his cheating.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR NOVEMBER 15, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCAirline travel: disruptions, delays, cancelationsPresident Bush proposes package of remediesTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailABCAir safety: air-traffic-control system problemsSnafu nearly causes mid-air crash over IndianaChris BuryChicago
video thumbnailCBSDeath Penalty controversiesSupreme Court puts lethal injections on holdWyatt AndrewsWashington DC
video thumbnailABC
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2008 Rudolph Giuliani campaignDiscusses father, opera, law, privacy, faithCharles GibsonNo Dateline
video thumbnailNBCCyclone in Bay of Bengal blasts BangladeshStorm surge forces evacuation of 600,000 peopleIan WilliamsIndia
video thumbnailCBSUN World Food Program distributes free riceRaise funds from online vocabulary game sponsorsDaniel SiebergIndiana
video thumbnailNBCLifestyle trends: average American day calculatedTime magazine stats on family, work, spendingLee CowanChicago
video thumbnailNBCChristmas holiday shopping season previewedRetailers discount apparel earlier than everCarl QuintanillaNew York
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NFL Eagles operate environmentally-friendly stadiumRuns on renewable energy, recyclable materialsLaura MarquezPhiladelphia
video thumbnailCBSBaseball career home run record set by Barry BondsIndicted for perjury about steroids abuseArmen KeteyianNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
BUSH RETURNS TO PULPIT See! That was not so difficult, was it? Teddy Roosevelt's saw about the White House being the Bully Pulpit was in danger of being discredited. George Bush, the current occupant, had not used his platform to make headlines for more than a month. The last time the President's actions were treated as Story of the Day on the nightly newscasts was back on October 3rd, when Bush vetoed the S-CHIP plan to extend healthcare coverage for children. Finally, he unveiled a package of proposals to relieve fears about congested airline travel over the Thanksgiving holiday--a modest initiative, to be sure, but enough to attract more coverage than any other story. So Bush may have attracted most time yet Barry Bonds grabbed headlines. All three newscasts decided to lead with sports, as the baseball slugger was indicted for perjury in an attempt to conceal his cheating.

The airlines announcement was a follow-up to Monday's warning reported by NBC's Tom Costello and ABC's David Kerley (subscription required) that holiday delays might happen. "Bush used the power of the Presidency to try to ensure that those Americans who go by air will make it to the Thanksgiving table," was how ABC's Lisa Stark put it, surely offering the White House just the positive spin it was angling for. CBS' Byron Pitts explained that the New York area accounts for an estimated 75% "of all chronic delays around the country" so the key measure was a five-day suspension of reserved military airspace from Florida to Maine in order to open up a "Thanksgiving express lane up and down the east coast." The same military stand-down will apply at Christmas. NBC's Costello called it "an immediate short term fix" with other parts of the plan--penalties for bumping passengers, fines for chronic delays, auctioning slots to reduce overcrowding--"months away." Will it work? "The weather is the biggest variable."

If the President's plan was meant to reassure passengers, both ABC and NBC followed up with an anecdote to restore their jitters. A pair of commuter jets, with a combined 55 people on board, were on a collision course at 25,000 feet above Fort Wayne on Tuesday night. United Express 7324 was flying into Chicago's O'Hare from Greensboro NC. Midwest Airlines 2453 was heading for Dayton from Milwaukee. It was only when a cockpit collision avoidance alert sounded that the Midwest pilot executed "an emergency climb with just seconds to spare," as NBC's Kevin Tibbles reported it. Federal Aviation Administration rules require planes to be separated by five miles horizontally and 1,000 feet vertically; these two were 1.3 miles and 600 feet apart. ABC's Chris Bury quoted from the air traffic controler in Aurora Ill: "Yes sir. It was my mistake. It was an error on my part."


FEELING NO PAIN The last time the Supreme Court prevented an execution from proceeding in October, both ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg (no link) and NBC's Pete Williams covered the decision as an informal ban on death by injection until the Justices decide in the spring whether the punishment is cruel and unusual. Now Wyatt Andrews plays catch-up on CBS as another stay "continues an unannounced moratorium." Andrews explained the killing apparatus as a triple procedure, first a barbiturate sedative, then a drug to induce paralysis, then "potassium chloride, the killing drug, causes a heart attack." Sometimes, he reported, "inmates are not properly sedated and can feel the intense pain of the heart attack but cannot speak because they are paralyzed." He quoted Gainesville Sun reporter Nathan Crabbe's account of witnessing 30 minutes of an imate's suffering after a botched injection: "His head was shaking back and forth. He was squinting his eyes like as if he was experiencing pain. It looked like he was gasping for air." Andrews quoted the counter argument: there is "very little evidence" of botched injections and anyway "the Constitution does not guarantee a painfree execution."


MYSTERIOUS WAYS None of the networks assigned a reporter to Las Vegas to preview the Democratic Presidential candidates' debate organized by CNN. Perhaps they felt that to do so would give free publicity to the competition. So the day's campaign coverage on the broadcast newscasts consisted of the latest profile in ABC's Who Is? series. This time anchor Charles Gibson (subscription required) sat down with Republican Rudolph Giuliani. We heard about his jailbird father who served time in Sing Sing for armed robbery; his teenage love of opera; his decision not attend a Roman Catholic seminary--"it was the celibacy that first said to me I cannot do this." Giuliani concluded by reflecting on the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. "Is this a divine plan or are things random?" "I believe there is a divine plan." "How does 9/11 fit in?" "We do not know. The other thing about a divine plan is--it is divine. It is beyond our comprehension as human beings."


WEBSITE FOR BANGLADESH The only story filed with a foreign dateline on any of the three newscasts came from NBC's Ian Williams in India, narrating videotape of a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, heading northwards towards low-lying Bangladesh with 150 mph winds. At least 10m of its population lives in the coastal zone less than 15 feet above sea level and the storm surge may exceed ten feet. By coincidence, CBS closed with Daniel Sieberg's feature on freerice.com, a six-week-old Website that has paid for the United Nations' World Food Program to donate food there. The site features an interactive vocabulary quiz for fourth grade schoolchildren. Each time a child scores a correct answer, its corporate sponsors--such as Fujitsu, Toshiba, Apple Macintosh, Office Depot, American Express, Time-Life, Reader's Digest, Macy's, Liz Claiborne--donate ten grains. The quiz is such an "international viral sensation" that all those grains have already added up to 230 metric tons, "enough to feed 500,000 for one day. It could be on the ground in Bangladesh in a matter of weeks."


THE MEAN AMERICAN Instead of covering more of the world, NBC took an In Depth look at the average American day, assigning Lee Cowan to mine statistics published in a survey by Time magazine. The snapshot included averages such as a lengthy 8:38 hours of sleep each night, a 18-to-36 minutes breakfast and a snappy 25-minute commute to work. An average daily exercise workout lasts 17 minutes and viewers average three hours each day watching television "looking at celebrities who they, on average, will outlive by about 13 years." ABC anchor Charles Gibson, too, mentioned the Time averages in passing: "The average household," he observed, "has more TVs than people." Cowan claimed the average person sleeps alone; Gibson countered that most of us share our bed "with a person or a pet."


PREMATURE EVALUATION What an odd day of news this is! Not only virtually bereft of overseas coverage…not only leading with a celebrity sports story…not only providing free publicity to a lifestyle feature in Time…but here we are, a week before Thanksgiving, and NBC decides to preview the Christmas shopping season. Unlucky Carl Quintanilla, of its sibling financial news cable channel CNBC, was assigned to the premature task. He reassured as that there should be plenty of bargains this year as retailers mark down "furniture, toys and--more than anything--clothes." It seems shoppers do not buy winter apparel when the weather is warm and so an unseasonable fall has left stores with bulging inventories and an urge to slash prices.


THE 1941 SEASON WAS BETTER Apart from the Bonds indictment, ABC filed a second professional sports story for its Going Green series. The NFL stadium for the Philadelphia Eagles has committed itself to sustainability. Its grass is organically fertilized. Its floodlights use wind-powered energy. Its tickets are printed on recycled paper. Its beer mugs biodegrade in 50 days because they are made from corn not plastic. "No matter how green the Eagles may be," Laura Marquez (subscription required) concluded about the notorious Philly boobirds, "fans still see red when their team loses."

As for Bonds, his freedom from prison, apparently, depends on how he framed his denial that he cheated. CBS' Armen Keteyian told us that federal prosecutors have obtained "positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances." So, according to Jim Avila's (subscription required) reading of the indictment on ABC, Bonds' defense is that he was duped into doping: "Did you ever take any steroids?" "Not that I know of." By contrast, NBC's George Lewis aired the categorical denial Bonds issued to NBC Sports' Jim Gray after he broke Henry Aaron's record for most home runs hit in a career. "And to those who believe that you have unfairly obtained this record through the use of performance enhancing drugs, what would your response to them be?" "That is not true and it is not right and it is not fair to me."

By the way, ABC's Avila called Bonds' home run mark "baseball's greatest record." Quite apart from Cy Young's 511 career wins as a pitcher, what about a .400 season batting average? What about a 56-game hitting streak? All those dingers are great--but are they the greatest?


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 State Department has managed to staff its embassy in Baghdad with volunteers, rendering moot its threat of compulsory service…the Defense Department may have to lay off civilian workers if Congress does not pay for its wartime budget increases…the Consumer Price Index measures inflation at a 3.6% annual rate…the Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 35m Americans go hungry at one time or another each year…a truck crash closed the I-35 highway in Texas…the Medal of Arts was presented at the White House to painter Andrew Wyeth and guitarist Les Paul.