CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 28, 2007
NBC, a corporate sibling of a hi-tech medical device manufacturer, gave maximum publicity to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that warned about the safety of CT scanner machines. Since 1980 the nationwide annual number of diagnostic CT scans has mushroomed from 3m to 62m. CTs, which bombard a body with 100 times the radiation of a standard X-ray, may now be overused so unnecessarily that two decades from now they may be the cause of one out of every 50 cancers. All three networks covered this Story of the Day, with NBC and ABC both choosing it as their lead. CBS opted for the continued deflation in the value of residential real estate instead.    
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video thumbnailNBCDiagnostic CT scan overuse may cause cancerNEJoM article warns of unnecessary radiationRobert BazellChicago
video thumbnailABCNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesDJIA up 331 to 13289 on hopes of Fed rate cutBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailCBSReal estate housing market prices continue to fallMany recent buyers have negative home equityAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailABC
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2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignHusband Bill muddles record on Iraq War backingKate SnowIowa
video thumbnailCBS2008 Rudolph Giuliani campaignExtra-marital affair travel was city-subsidizedByron PittsNew York
video thumbnailCBSIsrael nuclear weapons arsenal development recalledPresident Nixon tried to keep secrets in 1969Wyatt AndrewsWashington DC
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Pakistan politics: President Musharraf confirmedResigns commission as army chief of staffStephanie SyPakistan
video thumbnailNBCCyclone Sidr in Bay of Bengal blasts BangladeshUSMC helicopters' relief aid keeps low profileIan WilliamsBangladesh
video thumbnailNBCProphet Mohammed insulted by teddy bear nicknameEnglish teacher in Khartoum faces blasphemy rapNed ColtLondon
video thumbnailNBCArizona desert rescue of nine-year-old orphan boyMexican immigrant saves life, ends up deportedGeorge LewisLos Angeles
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
EXTRA SUPER X-RAYS NBC, a corporate sibling of a hi-tech medical device manufacturer, gave maximum publicity to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that warned about the safety of CT scanner machines. Since 1980 the nationwide annual number of diagnostic CT scans has mushroomed from 3m to 62m. CTs, which bombard a body with 100 times the radiation of a standard X-ray, may now be overused so unnecessarily that two decades from now they may be the cause of one out of every 50 cancers. All three networks covered this Story of the Day, with NBC and ABC both choosing it as their lead. CBS opted for the continued deflation in the value of residential real estate instead.

General Electric, which owns NBC, is a CT leading brand. Unfortunately, the only manufacturer whose logo was visible in NBC's report by Robert Bazell was Philips, the Dutch company. Proper journalistic ethics require Bazell to mention the benefit his ultimate employer derives from the possibly lethal overuse of its technology. Neither ABC's Dan Harris nor CBS' Jon LaPook mentioned any firm that makes these machines and none of the three attached any dollar amount to the cost of the excess scans. Harris quoted from the NEJoM that fully one third may not be medically necessary. "The authors say alternatives like MRIs or ultrasounds often work just as well," CBS' LaPook pointed out. ABC's in-house physician Timothy Johnson (at the tail of the Harris videostream) offered another warning: "I really worry about self-referrals, when doctors refer people for CT scan to facilities that they own. That is a conflict of interest. It should be eliminated by law. It is unethical."


BIPOLAR Yesterday, the turmoil in financial and real estate markets inspired NBC to lead its newscast with CNBC's Carl Quintanilla. Today the same mixture was CBS' lead. Anthony Mason cited a survey that found that more than 15% of recent homebuyers "are now underwater--meaning their houses are now worth less than their mortgage." CNBC's Erin Burnett looked at the real estate numbers and found "the worst price decline we have ever seen." ABC's Betsy Stark diagnosed Wall Street's mood as "bizarre euphoria" arising from "a few cryptic words" from Vice Chairman Donald Kohn of the Federal Reserve Board: "In my view these uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policy making." Stark translated this as "Fedspeak for more cuts in interest rates." As a consequence, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 331 points, following a 215 up day Tuesday and a 237 down day Monday. Mused CBS' Mason: "We keep seeing these triple digit moods swings."


TURNING BACK TIME On the campaign trail in Iowa, former President Bill Clinton found his words parsed oh-so-carefully by NBC's Mike Taibbi and ABC's Kate Snow (subscription required). At stake was the claim that he "opposed Iraq from the beginning." Snow produced a quote from Time magazine in 2004: "That is why I supported the Iraq thing." Taibbi also relied on Time without offering a date: "I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left in Iraq." Taibbi saw "raised eyebrows" and Snow heard a statement that "sounds to most trained ears like rewriting history." ABC's Snow quoted Jay Carson, a spinmeister from the Rodham Clinton campaign, as arguing that "a former President of the United States cannot be as vocal in their criticism of their successor because it is not in keeping with the office." Carson did not explain why the former President now felt liberated to voice his previously unspoken opposition. So Snow speculated on Carson's behalf: "Is he saying this now because he believes it will win votes here in Iowa?" NBC's Taibbi noted that by day's end Clinton "had made a subtle correction." It is now "oppose--present tense."

CBS' campaign coverage picked up on reporting by politico.com into how Rudolph Giuliani handled his extra-marital affair in 2000 with his now-wife Judith while he was Mayor of New York City. His trips for trysts to the Hamptons on Long Island involved a police security escort. "The question is not about the security detail," explained Byron Pitts, "it is about how the expenses were billed." The Giuliani campaign responded that it was a "non-issue" that the police costs were buried in unrelated budgets such as the City Loft Board. Such surreptitious booking makes the mayor's private life seem messy and Pitts mused that "messy is always unwelcome for a campaign that would rather stay on message."

By the way, NBC's report by Taibbi also contained a soundbite from George Bush's former political operative Karl Rove talking to PBS' Charlie Rose. Rove claimed that the United States was rushed into war with Iraq because of pressure from Congress: "It seemed to make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad."


ANNAPOLIS PLUS ONE Each of the networks offered its own follow-up to yesterday's brief Middle East peace conference (text link) in Annapolis. ABC's Martha Raddatz pointed out that the trio of leaders that met at the White House--George Bus, Mahmoud Abbas, Ehud Olmert--is each unpopular among his own people: "They want to make history so that may be some sign of progress." She was skeptical that Bush would travel to the region. She characterized Annapolis as his "putting a foot in the water…the water would have to be awfully warm--the negotiations going very well--for him to get his swim trunks wet."

On NBC, anchor Brian Williams obtained a q-&-a with Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, now a special envoy to the Middle East. Williams asked Blair about Hamas' lack of participation in the peace conference. "There will be a moment when we make an offer to the people of Gaza…The choice will then be for Hamas and the elements within Hamas. Do they want to pursue peaceful means to a two-state solution?" Then came an ambiguous formulation that Williams did not press Blair to clarify. "If they wish to do that, they can be part of it. If they do not want to say that, then it is very difficult to see how you can negotiate a two-state solution with people who are refusing to acknowledge the existence of one of those states." So Blair was either saying that Hamas would have a veto over a settlement--no deal unless it recognized Israel--or he was countenancing a State of Palestine that does not include Gaza--a deal without Hamas involvement. Time will tell.

CBS' mideast coverage offered one explanation as to why the region's Arab states "do not think America is on their side," as Wyatt Andrews put it. He went back to 1969 when President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger learned that Israel, under Prime Minister Golda Meir, had acquired nuclear weapons. According to newly released White House memos, their first priority was to keep Soviet nukes out of Arab hands and secondarily to try to persuade Israel to disarm. Nixon did suggest that the US "might not sell Israel 50 Phantom fighter bombers if Israel insisted on keeping the bomb--but Israeli leaders called that bluff, got the planes and kept the bomb," Andrews narrated. "It is a point in history that Arabs resent to this day."


EAST & WEST PAKISTAN Updates from the sub-continent were filed on ABC and NBC. NBC's Ian Williams continued his regular reporting on the relief efforts following Cyclone Sidr from Bangladesh. Nearly two weeks after the storm "the first significant US aid" has arrived, he told us from Galachipa, as USMC Chinook helicopters came ashore from the USS Kearsarge. They were "delayed by diplomatic wrangling and limited by Bangladesh government unease about US troops in this Moslem country." Only ABC assigned a reporter to the "passing of the bamboo baton," as Stephanie Sy (subscription required) called it. Pervez Musharraf finally ended his 46-year military career, resigning his commission as the constitution of Pakistan requires. "As a civilian president he is counting on the army for its continued loyalty," Sy stated. "That is not guaranteed." For more than half of Pakistan's 60 years in existence the state has been under military rule. Its power "penetrates nearly every aspect of society from public works to politics." Musharraf handed over to Gen Ashfaq Kayani, former head of Pakistani intelligence.


BLASPHEMOUS BEAR Neither NBC nor ABC had a reporter in Sudan to cover the plight of Gillian Gibbons, the teacher at an elite Khartoum grade school, who faces the possible punishment of a flogging with 40 lashes for a misunderstanding with a teddy bear. Both NBC's Ned Colt, who perceived a "measured" response from British diplomats, and ABC's Jim Sciutto (subscription required), who characterized the British response as "real anger," covered the story from London in Gibbons' native England, where the story fell into the category of mishaps in foreign lands rather than offering cultural insight into the Sudanese practice of Islam. Gibbons suggested that her class of seven-year-olds think of a name for the stuffed toy. They chose to name it after their classmate Mohammed. The teacher wrote a letter to her students' parents encouraging participation with teddy. They complained that the Prophet himself (peace be unto him) was being insulted. Gibbons is charged with showing contempt for Islam.

It is a good thing Gibbons' letter was not illustrated with Danish cartoons.


THE ORPHAN AND THE IMMIGRANT The story of nine-year-old Christopher Tomko was upsetting enough: two months after his father dies, he goes on a camping trip in Arizona with his mother; she crashes her car into a ravine, killing herself; he is left alone in the desert on Thanksgiving Day, orphaned and looking for help. NBC's George Lewis took up the story from the point of view of Jesus Manuel Cordova, a Mexican immigrant, crossing the border illegally near Nogales. Cordoba comes across the boy--"I did not understand him and he did not understand me"--and understands this, that he has to help. He builds a fire, staying there all night until the Border Patrol arrives. The orphan's life is saved and Cordova is deported back to Mexico.


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 trio of alleged smugglers has been arrested along the Slovakia-Hungary border accused of trying to transport enriched uranium…Ford Motors settles the last of its lawsuits for rollover accidents in Explorer SUVs…Mike Huckabee, the Republican Presidential candidate, received an endorsement from Liberty University, the evangelical Christian college founded by the late Jerry Falwell.