CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 03, 2007
News about Iran's nuclear program headed a busy day. A severe storm struck the Pacific Northwest. President Hugo Chavez accepted defeat in a constitutional referendum in Venezuela. Campaigning intensified in the run-up to the Presidential nominating caucuses in Iowa. Don Imus returned to the radio airwaves. The Story of the Day was the official conclusion by US spies that Iran has not worked on building a nuclear weapon for four years now. The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities was the lead on both CBS and NBC. ABC led with the high winds and heavy rains around Seattle.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 03, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCIran nuclear weapons program investigatedIntelligence Estimate finds cessation in 2003David GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailCBSVenezuela politics: President Chavez wields powerReferendum defeats his constitutional revisionsKelly CobiellaVenezuela
video thumbnailNBCRussia politics: President Putin wields powerParty controls parliament after flawed electionJim MacedaMoscow
video thumbnailCBS2008 Iowa caucuses previewedDems' contest is close; GOPer Huckabee surgesHarry SmithIowa
video thumbnailABC2008 Mitt Romney campaignSchedules speech on role of his Mormon faithJohn BermanNew York
video thumbnailCBS2008 voting blocs: twentysomethingsCandidates target young despite low turnoutKatie CouricNo Dateline
video thumbnailNBCStorms, heavy rains, high winds in Pacific NWCoastal storm downs trees, causes mudslidesGeorge LewisSeattle
video thumbnailABCFDA bureaucracy suffers funding shortfallLack of staff to ensure food, medicine safetyJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailCBSRadio morning show host Don Imus returns to airHired by ABC after being fired by CBSNancy CordesNew York
video thumbnailABCChimpanzees pass memory test in Japanese laboratoryApes speed-remember numbers better than humansBill BlakemoreNo Dateline
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
NO MANHATTAN PROJECT IN TEHERAN News about Iran's nuclear program headed a busy day. A severe storm struck the Pacific Northwest. President Hugo Chavez accepted defeat in a constitutional referendum in Venezuela. Campaigning intensified in the run-up to the Presidential nominating caucuses in Iowa. Don Imus returned to the radio airwaves. The Story of the Day was the official conclusion by US spies that Iran has not worked on building a nuclear weapon for four years now. The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities was the lead on both CBS and NBC. ABC led with the high winds and heavy rains around Seattle.

ABC and CBS had their Pentagon correspondents cover Iran; NBC gave the story to its man at the White House David Gregory. He called the NIE's finding "an abrupt and sudden about face." George Bush's national security team had assumed that Teheran's work on missiles and uranium enrichment was part of a weapons program. Not so. "White House officials admit this new intelligence on Iran surfaced months ago" yet the President persisted in his dire warnings even as his spies vetted its veracity. Gregory quoted Bush this October: "If you are interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

Gregory failed to make note of the crucial turn of phrase in Bush's formulation. He was no longer warning about Teheran's development or possession of a nuclear arsenal. Merely the "knowledge necessary" was dangerous enough. The President may have already been hinting back then that he was aware that Iran's weapons building was on hold.

As for the view from the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin observed that NSC Advisor Stephen Hadley "significantly downgraded the chances of military action" against Iran. ABC's Jonathan Karl concurred, calling the report "a remarkable turnaround" and finding it "virtually impossible that the United States would engage in military action against Iran."


PUTIN UP, CHAVEZ DOWN All three networks filed from Caracas on the Venezuelan referendum. Only NBC had a reporter in Moscow for the parliamentary elections, where President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party prevailed. Jim Maceda reported that Putin's victory was enabled by "new election rules that made it impossible for opposition candidates to compete" and "accusations of vote buying and voter intimidation" that the Kremlin refuted.

The vote in Venezuela, by a 51%-49% margin, upheld term limits for the presidency, meaning that Hugo Chavez will have to leave office in five years instead of being able to run again and again in a bid to become President for Life. NBC's Kerry Sanders summed up the cons and pros: the victorious opponents of the amendment feared creating a dictatorship; the defeated supporters "mostly the poor, believed a victory would guarantee they would share indefinitely in the oil wealth of this nation." CBS' Kelly Cobiella was yet more expansive, depicting a Chavist vision to "remake this oil-rich country into a carbon copy of socialist Cuba." Chavez "surprised his critics by accepting defeat," added ABC's Jeffrey Kofman (no link). "Do not count him out yet. Even without those constitutional changes Chavez still has unprecedented power in this country."


EYES ON IOWA On the campaign trail in Iowa, the Democratic race "is a toss up," CBS' Harry Smith told us, as polls show that female support for Hillary Rodham Clinton may be "faltering." NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted that Rodham Clinton is still not an underdog in polls of would-be caucusgoers since Barack Obama's lead is "still within the margin of error." The lines are clearly drawn: by "wide margins" she is seen as experienced and Presidential, he as "more likable and more likely to bring about change." Smith cautioned that Iowa voters are "notorious late deciders and they are fickle too. With 31 days to go and half undecided, the fun has just begun."

On the Republican side ABC's John Donvan (no link) marveled at the transformation of Mike Huckabee's status from spoiler to frontrunner--his scrum of a press corps, his packed meetings, his hour-long timeslots on talkradio--"something really seems to have clicked here for Huckabee." And Donvan called "the ultimate compliment…the big league attacks his ideas are now drawing, finally." Huckabee's major GOP rival in Iowa is Mitt Romney. He "has tried hard to win over conservative Christians," the ones now rallying to Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher, noted NBC's Ron Allen. Allen played a soundbite from a Huckabee ad: "I do not have to wake up every morning wondering what do I need to believe." CBS' Smith played Romney's countersoundbite: "I am not running for pastor in chief. I am running for Commander in Chief."

NBC's Allen speculated that Romney's Mormon faith may be prompting Christian defections. "Many evangelicals claim members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are not true Christians" because Mormons believe the Old and New Testaments are an incomplete Bible that needed to be supplemented by the Book of Mormon, which was revealed in the 1830s to Joseph Smith. Allen noted that Mormons number 5.5m in the United States, making it the nation's "fourth largest religious group." For Romney "his Mormon faith has long been the theological elephant in the room," ABC's John Berman commented, when the candidate scheduled a major address for Thursday on the role of religion in civil society and the body politic. "It could be a double-edged sword," mused Berman, attracting scrutiny to his minority faith rather than clearing the air.

CBS anchor Katie Couric filed a feature on campaign outreach to young voters, showing Websites, text message efforts and forums held by MySpace.com with MTV. Ostensibly she was making general points about a generation--quoting statistics about the 18-24 age group, 18-29s and 18-35s--but her examples skewed towards efforts on the Democratic side. She illustrated it with clips from the stump by Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards and Barack Obama and an MTV clip from Edwards. The only Republicans to get a soundbite were Richard Nixon in 1972--when the voting age was lowered to 18--and John McCain on Comedy Central's now strikebound The Daily Show. Couric implicitly admitted her image of the Grand Old Party as the Old Fogey Party when she found it newsworthy that "Republicans are making sure they are in the game. Tonight John McCain becomes the first GOP candidate to take part in an MTV/MySpace forum."


STORMY IN SEATTLE All three networks showed us the battered Pacific Northwest--even though Bianca Solorzano found herself narrating CBS' video from snowbound New Hampshire instead. The 100mph coastal winds and heavy rains prevented NBC's Brian Williams from traveling to Seattle, where he had planned to anchor the newscast. George Lewis was on the scene for flooded roads, closed bridges and sodden hills at risk of mudslides. In Oregon, ABC's Neal Karlinsky (no link) showed us, "the world's tallest Sitka Spruce, a tree that has survived 700 years of storms…finally met its match."


HANDWRITING EXAMINATION ABC assigned John McKenzie to take A Closer Look at an internal report by advisors at the Food & Drug Administration entitled FDA Science and Mission at Risk. It told tales of understaffing and underfunding that prevents safety monitoring of food and medicine. In the last four years, the FDA's staff of inspectors has shrunk by 600. The e-mail system is antiquated and "many front line employees do not even have a computer. Inspectors are often left to write urgent reports by hand."


MOST FASCINATING Imus in the Morning was canceled by the CBS radio network in April because of "derogatory comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team," CBS' Nancy Cordes reminded us. Don Imus now returns on the ABC Radio network. "Not much has changed," Imus announced. "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal. Hillary Clinton is still Satan. And I am back on the radio." His months of disgrace have not alienated all his regular guests. Republican Presidential candidate John McCain is "back in the fold." Imus himself is of two minds about what happened. ABC played a portion of his sitdown with Barbara Walters (no link) for her annual Ten Most Fascinating People show: "Do you think you should have been fired?" "Probably not--but once it caught fire, which was quickly, then I didn't see any other logical conclusion. I think what happened should have happened."


A CHIMP CAN DO IT Better than Imus was the Current Biology Video from Kyoto University narrated by ABC's Bill Blakemore. "Flash nine numbers for a moment then cover them up. Can a chimpanzee remember where each numeral was and still get the order they were in right? Yes!" Now, "can another primate species, the adult homo sapiens do the same?" Just watch.


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 grade school teacher who was convicted of using a teddy bear to commit blasphemy was pardoned in Sudan…the funeral was held in Miami for murdered NFL player Sean Taylor…felony kidnapping charges were filed against Leeland Eisenburg for Friday afternoon's hostage siege in New Hampshire.