ABC News' own polling unit was responsible for the Story of the Day. Along with its partners at the Washington Post it surveyed potential Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa and found Barack Obama ahead of Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards (30% v 26% and 20%) in the horse race with six weeks to go. ABC, naturally, led with its own findings, as did NBC. CBS chose a different survey for its lead, by the National Alliance for Caregivers and the longterm insurance firm Evercare: it found that 34m Americans provide non-professional home healthcare for aging kinfolk.    
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video thumbnailABC2008 Iowa caucuses previewedObama surpasses Rodham Clinton in pollsKate SnowNew York
video thumbnailNBC2008 Iowa caucuses previewedObama surpasses Rodham Clinton in pollsDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailCBS2008 Presidential primary schedule revampedEarly Fla contest key for GOP, ignored by DemsKatie CouricMiami
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Cyclone in Bay of Bengal blasts BangladeshCoastal zone devastated, inaccessible for aidNick SchifrinBangladesh
video thumbnailNBCSerbia abuse of mentally disabled exposedPrime Minister Kostunica backtracks on remedyAnn CurryNew York
video thumbnailCBSAdult children are caretakers for aging parentsHome care provided by an estimated 34m kinSandra HughesLos Angeles
video thumbnailCBSTeenage rebellious behavior discussed onlineParents use spyware to monitor sex, booze talkDaniel SiebergNo Dateline
video thumbnailABCKidney transplants from living organ donorsSurgeon advocates $60K pay-per-organ programJohn McKenzieMinneapolis
video thumbnailCBSGuns: FBI laboratory bullet analysis flawedMetallurgy test used by prosecutors discreditedBob OrrWashington DC
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British royals coverageElizabeth-Philip celebrate diamond weddingNick WattLondon
NEW FRONTRUNNER IN IOWA ABC News' own polling unit was responsible for the Story of the Day. Along with its partners at the Washington Post it surveyed potential Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa and found Barack Obama ahead of Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards (30% v 26% and 20%) in the horse race with six weeks to go. ABC, naturally, led with its own findings, as did NBC. CBS chose a different survey for its lead, by the National Alliance for Caregivers and the longterm insurance firm Evercare: it found that 34m Americans provide non-professional home healthcare for aging kinfolk.

The analysis of the political poll by ABC's Kate Snow found that Iowa Democrats are attaching greater value to "new direction and new ideas"--Obama's talking point--than to "strength and experience," Rodham Clinton's attribute. Thus Rodham Clinton has refined her slogan to neutralize Obama's advantage: Only Experience Can Bring Real Change. That does not address a second problem the poll found in Rodham Clinton's image, "her willingness to forthright," as ABC polling director Gary Langer put it.

As for Edwards, NBC's David Gregory updated us on those push polls that ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required) covered on Friday. Gregory described them as illicit "under the radar attacks" that "sound like they are from independent pollsters" but are instead "an attempt to spread negative information." In Edwards' case, the pushers insinuated that his wife Elizabeth, a cancer patient, was so sick that her husband would not be able to compete properly in the General Election. Gregory quoted her rebuttal in an interview for MSNBC's Morning Joe with Mika Brzezinski: "There is no prognosis for me to suggest that I would be anything except exactly how I am today or better."

When a campaign's major talking point is forced to be that its would-be First Lady is not at death's door, it seems that the push pollsters have succeeded.

ABC's Sunday morning anchor, George Stephanopoulos (at the tail of the Snow videostream) of This Week, found the intensity of the campaigning in Iowa "stunning." The poll found that fully one third of likely caucusgoers had actually "met or spoken with" a candidate. "You do not get that kind of contact in a Congressional race." Stephanopoulos then lapsed into the same fallacy that CBS' Jim Axelrod fell into earlier this month. Both used John Kerry's Iowa victory in 2004 as evidence that "electability…who is going to win in November" is the key attribute in winning the caucus. Please. Kerry was unelectable. He lost in November.

CBS mentioned ABC's Iowa poll in passing but did not assign a reporter to its findings. Instead, Katie Couric, who was anchoring from the road in Miami, previewed the unusually forward Florida primary. The leapfrogging state has scheduled its contest in January, before Super Tuesday but after New Hampshire. That violates Democratic National Committee rules so only Republican candidates are competing there. Couric identified Florida as Rudolph Giuliani's opportunity to catch up after Mitt Romney's expected victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. The former mayor of New York City is "spending much of his winter" in the Sunshine State, which is home to 1.5m former New Yorkers. So far Giuliani has logged 20 visits to Florida as opposed to just 15 to Iowa.

BURIALS IN BENGAL NBC and ABC both filed apocalyptic images from the aftermath of the cyclone that hit Bangladesh. Only Nick Schifrin (subscription required) of ABC was on the scene, amid the ruins of a village on the Kocha River; Ian Williams narrated videotape from NBC's bureau in New Delhi. He quoted estimates by relief agencies of 10,000 dead from the storm: "The most urgent task was to bury the dead, often in mass graves" as deteriorating sanitary conditions threaten cholera.

SO DIFFICULT TO LOOK AT NBC had Ann Curry file an In Depth update of the Exclusive she filed last week with Mental Disability Rights International on the warehouse conditions of patients in Serbia's mental institutions. Curry confessed that she "actually could not even show you the worst pictures because they were so difficult to look at." When members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture arrived in Belgrade to assess the abuse, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica began to backtrack on the denunciation by his own Minister of Social Policy. Whereas Rasim Ljadjic had told Curry the conditions were "unacceptable," Kostunica called the coverage of widespread neglect "inaccurate--and systematic propaganda against Serbia." His government contradicted the charge that stunting growth by tying patients in their cots was "a form of torture" since "there is no malicious intent."

FAMILY TIES Both ABC and CBS covered the survey on homecare for the ailing elderly. Both attributed the statistic of an average annual cost of $5,500 per household per patient to the National Alliance for Caregivers. At least CBS' Sandra Hughes added Evercare as the survey's second sponsor; ABC's David Wright (no link) did not even list the corporate partner. He should have--and Hughes should have identified Evercare's business, since it directly benefits when families plan for the expense that it was publicizing. Instead, it required a Google search for to find the firm identified as "a leading provider of health plans for people who have long-term or advanced illness, are older, or have disabilities."

CBS ran a second family-oriented story that was also substandard. Daniel Sieberg's feature kicked off a series on The Secret Lives of Teens. He found an anonymous upper middle class midwestern family: daughter Jane, 16, mother Cindy and father Tom. Tom and Cindy are using Spector computer software to spy on Jane. Without her knowledge, they read her e-mail, her instant messages, her Website postings; they steal her passwords to log on to her accounts; they execute screen grabs of every Website she surfs to; they receive e-mail alerts when she reads or types words such as "beer, bitch, boob, cheat, smoke, steal, whore…" Cindy confessed that when she discovered Jane had visited a site with the headline "I am a Naughty Slut" that "quite honestly it repulses me." Tom explained the reason for the surveillance: "The amount of drinking and a lot of the boasting about sexual activity."

So what did Sieberg make of all this? That Tom and Cindy should relax and get a life? Hardly. He validated these intrusions on the grounds that Jane's life "is a far cry from generations past when parents knew what their kids were up to." Sieberg cannot really believe that today's teenagers are the first generation to boast about sex and to drink alcohol behind their parents' backs, can he? Then he states that "these days parents have good reason to worry" by stating Pew Survey statistics that, it turns out, provide no reason to worry: 55% of online teens have posted profiles; 79% of those include a photo; 32% have been contacted by a stranger. The only benefit Sieberg could cite was that Tom and Cindy spotted an invitation to a party with "a big fire, food, music, a huge dance party and a crazy amount of drinking." The party was broken up anyway by local police but because her parents asked Jane to skip it she was not there for the cops to send home.

TODDLER BAIT, ORGAN SWITCH John McKenzie filed an interesting account of the proposal by Arthur Matas, a kidney transplant surgeon at the University of Minnesota, for ABC's A Closer Look. Because of the shortage of kidneys--17K donated each year for a waiting list of 74K--Matas suggests that a $60K pay-per-organ program would create a supply, with living donors undergoing a full physical and psychological evaluation and being offered free longterm healthcare. Matas argued that already human sperm, eggs and blood are legally for sale. Why not kidneys too? To which McKenzie pointed out that having one's kidney removed is "major surgery."

It is a routine convention of medical reporting to start with a human interest hook: personalize a problem by profiling a patient before proceeding to the broader abstract point of the story. So McKenzie accommodated by introducing us to kidney dialysis patient Dominik Lawson, who may have to wait five years for a donor "if he survives that long." But in truth McKenzie spoiled the story by using Lawson. Dominik turns out to be just 24 months old. Even if Matas' pay-per-kidney scheme goes into effect, it is unimaginable that participants would include children, those with a kidney small enough to save a toddler's life. So McKenzie showed us the sick child merely for emotional manipulation, with no journalistic justification.

UPDATE: Dominik Lawson's mother Kelly leaves a correction in Comments. She states that "the perfect kidney donor for Dominik is a healthy ADULT!!!"--in which case McKenzie's reporting turns out to be justified journalistically after all and my comments about "emotional manipulation" out of line. Researchers at Stanford University (see Comments) seem somewhat cautious that adult-to-toddler transplants are "perfect" but even with that caveat my "unimaginable" was plain misinformed. I retract that and apologize.

FORTY YEARS ON CBS had Bob Orr follow up on the investigation by its own 60 Minutes with the Washington Post into Discarded Bullet Lead Analysis. That is the metallurgic technique developed by FBI forensics laboratories to match bullet fragments found at crime scenes with unused ammunition. The analysis was used by prosecutors for 40 years before it was discredited as "not scientifically sound" two years ago. "Defense attorneys are looking through 2,500 files to determine how many cases should be reviewed."

SIXTY YEARS ON "She still calls him hon and he calls her cabbage." Thus ABC's Nick Watt (subscription required) shared the pet words of Philip "a dashing naval officer" and Elizabeth "a shy princess" who celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary at London's Westminster Abbey. "She rules the country; he rules the family." NBC's Keith Miller took a similar tack about the royal cousins--both have "Queen Victoria as a greatgrandmother"--showing husband, "descended from a poor branch of Greek royalty," entering the abbey four paces behind wife. "Queen Elizabeth may wear the crown but it is Prince Philip who wears the pants in the family."

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: Frances Townsend, the homeland security advisor at the White House, has resigned…9/11 Commission co-chairman Thomas Kean endorsed John McCain for the Republican Presidential nomination…the replacement supreme court installed by Pervez Musharraf when he declared Pakistan's State of Emergency, has confirmed that he is the legitimate president…simpliFLY is the neatness instruction video issued by the federal TSA to tell us how to pack our bags properly…former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick, guilty of running pitbull fights, reported to prison early…actor Dick Wilson died, aged 91, famous for playing the Mr Whipple character in TV's Charmin ads.