CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 20, 2007
A pair of major developments were covered by correspondents on all three newscasts. The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments over the meaning of the Second Amendment--whose right to bear arms does it protect? And biotech scientists in Wisconsin and Kyoto announced an advance in the genetic engineering, introducing genetic code into cells from adult skin to make them act as if they were embryonic. Embryonic cells, in turn, may be programed to grow into the various specialized cells of the body. The stem cells were the Story of the Day, leading both CBS and NBC. ABC chose its own interview instead, sending anchor Charles Gibson to Camp David in the Maryland mountains to sit down with George and Laura Bush.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR NOVEMBER 20, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSHuman embryo stem cell biotechnology researchGenetic engineers turn skin into stem cellsJon LaPookNew York
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Guns: firearms control regulations debateSupreme Court to hear challenge to DC's gun banJan Crawford GreenburgSupreme Court
video thumbnailNBC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignEmphasizes foreign policy; loses women's supportAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence diminishesBaghdad's Dora neighborhood is slow to reboundDamien CaveBaghdad
video thumbnailABCPresidential retreat at Camp David in MarylandFirst Couple enjoys relaxing in secluded woodsCharles GibsonMaryland
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Thanksgiving Day holidayChicago's O'Hare Airport expects extra trafficBarbara PintoChicago
video thumbnailCBSDrought afflicts southeastern statesApalachicola Bay ecosystem harmed, more salineKelly CobiellaFlorida
video thumbnailCBSTeenage rebellious behavior discussed onlineAutomated controls are no substitute for parentsDaniel SiebergMaryland
video thumbnailNBCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseCountrywide hotline helps borrowers reset loansDiana OlickBoston
video thumbnailNBCDisabled boy, aged nine, agrees to leg amputationBorn with skin web behind knee, needs prosthesisJoe FryerMinneapolis
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
STEM CELLS BEAT OUT SECOND AMENDMENT A pair of major developments were covered by correspondents on all three newscasts. The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments over the meaning of the Second Amendment--whose right to bear arms does it protect? And biotech scientists in Wisconsin and Kyoto announced an advance in the genetic engineering, introducing genetic code into cells from adult skin to make them act as if they were embryonic. Embryonic cells, in turn, may be programed to grow into the various specialized cells of the body. The stem cells were the Story of the Day, leading both CBS and NBC. ABC chose its own interview instead, sending anchor Charles Gibson to Camp David in the Maryland mountains to sit down with George and Laura Bush.

"An outstanding achievement!" exclaimed NBC's Robert Bazell. "A jawdropping breakthrough!" marveled CBS' Jon LaPook. On ABC, David Muir (subscription required) pointed out that stem cell research activists, such as the Michael J Fox Foundation, still insist that "at this time embryonic stem cells remain the gold standard for understanding how a cell develops." So the import of the genetic engineering is as much political, removing the opposition of pro-lifers, as medical. If this approach were technically feasible, "there would be no more ethical issues about stem cell research," NBC's Bazell predicted. LaPook, CBS' in-house physician, suggested a practical use for the technique: "Doctors can take the skin cells from someone with Alzheimer's; turn them into nerve cells; and try different drugs in the Petri dish--without experimenting on the patient."


BEAR ARMS The Supreme Court hearings into the challenge to Washington DC's ban on household ownership of handguns, working rifles and shotguns will be historic: "the most important decision ever on gun rights"--NBC's Pete Williams; "the most important gun case ever"--CBS' Wyatt Andrews; "one of the greatest Constitutional questions"--ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg (subscription required). Do the 27 words of the Second Amendment only protect the right of a militia to arm itself? Or do they protect an individual's right too? It is an article of the Bill of Rights that "never before in US history has the Supreme Court explicitly defined," stated NBC's Williams. If the Justices find for individuals, ABC's Crawford Greenburg envisioned a "far reaching" impact: "In DC, officials estimate thousands of people would go out and buy handguns and cities and states across the country would have to rewrite their gun laws."


DID NOT PROMISE A ROSE GARDEN The President and First Lady sent ABC's Charles Gibson mixed messages about their tenure in the White House as they lapse into lame duck status. Bush detailed its burdens: "Until you actually get in there and understand the responsibilities that come with the office you cannot possibly--cannot possibly--comprehend it." As they celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary he speculated that "a weak marriage would be torn apart by the pressures, I would suspect; a strong marriage gets stronger." And then, as they strolled through the woods at Camp David, life did not seem so hard. Laura Bush called the grounds "beautiful…so pretty." George agreed: "Life is pretty comfortable and this is part of the, you know, luxury of being the President, coming up here to Camp David." "What is the hardest thing to give up: this, the White House or the plane?" "Or the helicopter…Yes! What traffic jam? I guess the whole experience has been magnificent."

Gibson (no link) tried to cajole soundbites from the First Couple on Campaign 2008. Apart from the President's certainty that the Republican nominee would beat Hillary Rodham Clinton, the closest he got to breaking down their stone wall was Laura Bush's implicit endorsement of dynastic succession: "If a person has an opportunity in the role of the First Lady to observe the President and what he goes through for eight years, does that experience prepare the person to be President?" "I think you certainly know what it is like," she responded. "It was very helpful for us to have been around the White House as much as we were when his parents served there." Meanwhile on NBC, Andrea Mitchell monitored Rodham Clinton's latest maneuvers in Iowa. The former First Lady's attack on Barack Obama--"with all due respect I do not think living in a foreign country between the ages of six and ten is foreign policy experience"--was "almost identical" to a talking point issued by the Republican National Committee, Mitchell observed. She interpreted an ad from yougogirl.com to "shore up her support among Iowa women" as evidence that Rodham Clinton's rhetoric about her gender "could be hurting her--not winning over undecided women and costing support among men." The public does not know "how difficult it is to run for President," Laura Bush empathized to ABC's Gibson, "how much emotional and physical stamina you need."

Gibson also quizzed the President on foreign policy. Bush praised Pervez Musharraf for having "advanced democracy in Pakistan." He insisted that his policy towards Iran was "to pursue our objectives diplomatically" even though later in the interview he decried Obama's willingness to hold unconditional talks with leaders of hostile nations as "an odd foreign policy." On Iraq, Gibson all but declared that the Commander in Chief's military strategy had succeeded: "I will give you a chance to crow. Do you want to say I told you so?" The President asserted that "grassroots reconciliation is beginning to translate into national changes." NBC aired a report from the grassroots--the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad--by Damien Cave of The New York Times. He introduced us to a couple of librarian friends, Suhaila al-Aasan, who is Shiite, and Afifa Tabbit, who is Sunni. Both had been driven from their homes: al-Aasan can now return; Tabbit, whose son was murdered in the street, has to live in an upstairs room at the library. "There is a lot more hope than there was just a few months ago," Cave found, "yet the more we talk the more I learn that these women are struggling to recover."


INFREQUENT As the Thanksgiving holiday travel rush gets under way, CBS sent Jeff Glor to Reagan National Airport while ABC assigned Barbara Pinto (subscription required) to American Airlines' hub at Chicago's O'Hare. Pinto saw "every detail" of AA's 1,000 daily flights monitored "from baggage to fuel to maintenance" with "infrequent travelers guaranteed to slow down the security lines and tax the baggage system." Foggy conditions in the midwest and northeast have slowed traffic somewhat, Glor reported, since "low ceilings mean pilots have to land with their instruments not their eyes."


VIEW FROM DOWNSTREAM For a second day, CBS had Katie Couric anchor her newscast from Miami. Her Florida perspective allowed correspondent Kelly Cobiella to balance the Atlanta angle that has so far dominated coverage of the southeastern drought. All three networks covered the regional dispute over water from Lake Lanier from the Georgia point of view: ABC's Steve Osunsami (subscription required), CBS' Mark Strassmann and NBC's Martin Savidge all relayed complaints from metropolitan Atlanta of looming water rationing because the Army Corps of Engineers sends fresh water from the reservoir downstream to Alabama and Florida. Now Cobiella shows us the threat to an entire ecosystem if Atlanta consumes that water. Already increased salinity is depleting the Florida Panhandle's commercial oyster harvest. As salt water spreads upriver it is "killing the marshes that serve as nurseries for 90% of Apalachicola Bay's marine life."


LIVING SPACE & MYSPACE Both NBC and CBS continued their feature series, one on real estate, the other on teenage Internet habits. After yesterday's report by Mark Potter for NBC's The Housing Bust on the adverse ripple effect of the collapse of home sales on the central Florida construction industry, CNBC's Diana Olick offered generous free publicity to Countrywide Financial for a tiny piece of outreach. She profiled the mortgage lender's collaboration with the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America to renegotiate loans for homeowners facing foreclosure because adjustable rates kicked in and hiked monthly housing costs, "a move Countrywide would not even have considered just months ago." Yet the outreach has benefited only 200 homeowners "just a small piece of the pie in what is fast becoming a foreclosure epidemic."

On CBS' The Secret Lives of Teens, Daniel Sieberg confusingly followed up on his approving report of yesterday about parents spying on a teenage girl's every online act with a debunking of such supervision. "Teens know how to get around these controls," Sieberg asserted. "Just Googling the words parental controls yields hundreds of Websites with instructions." He introduced us to Megan Kirszenbaum in the Baltimore suburbs, whose mother's complaints about her sexually provocative and drug using MySpace friendships alienated the then 15-year-old. "Megan disappeared for two days," Siebert stated. "I did not run away. I just needed some space," Megan punned in her own defense. The struggle by mother Malissa to restrict daughter Megan's social networking "became a cat and mouse game" as Megan kept changing her password. In the end Malissa gave up her parental controls and Megan cut back on her time online: "The Kirszenbaum women are making peace with each other through something very low-tech, sitting together and talking."


MISS MY LEG NBC closed with a preview of a Today appearance for the Thanksgiving holiday by Nick Nelson, a nine-year-old from Minneapolis. The boy grabbed the attention of network bookers after a human interest profile on his local station KARE-TV. So reporter Joe Fryer got to rerun his piece for a national audience. Young Nick was born with weblike growth of skin behind his right knee--a syndrome called popliteal pterygium--that prevents him for straightening his leg. For most of his childhood he has used a wheelchair but "his condition will just continue to get worse" jamming his calf and and foot under his thigh. So he opted for amputation. "Wise beyond his years," Fryer called him. The boy reflected on his prosthetic future: "I am going to kind of miss my leg."


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 United Nations admitted it had overestimated the global HIV-positive population, lowering estimates to 33m…the cost of a barrel of crude oil reached $98, a record high…the State Department announced its schedule for next week's Middle East peace conference in Annapolis…international relief aid is slow to arrive in cyclone-torn Bangladesh…the cigarette quitting medicine Chantix may have the side effect of triggering suicidal thoughts…Sweet Caroline, the hit pop song by Neil Diamond, was written as a tribute to then First Daughter Caroline Kennedy.