CONTAINING LINKS TO 49620 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 04, 2007
President George Bush ensured that Iran's nuclear ambitions would be Story of the Day for the second straight day when he called a press conference to respond to yesterday's National Intelligence Estimate. It found that Teheran's weapons development had been put on hold four years ago. "I have said Iran is dangerous and the NIE does not do anything to change my opinion," the President insisted. As much coverage as he attracted, however, none of the three newscasts placed him as its lead. All three kicked off with the floods in the Pacific Northwest that have cut off Interstate highway traffic from Seattle to Portland.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 04, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCIran nuclear weapons program investigatedPresident Bush sees danger despite cessationMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailNBCIran nuclear weapons program investigatedNIE reveals reversal of US spies' assumptionsAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIran nuclear weapons program investigatedUN sanctions try to halt uranium enrichmentElizabeth PalmerLondon
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingDefense Secy Gates finds guerrillas resurgentJim MiklaszewskiAfghanistan
video thumbnailABCStorms, heavy rains, high winds in Pacific NWFloods close Seattle-Portland I-5 highwayNeal KarlinskyWashington State
video thumbnailNBC2008 Mike Huckabee campaignConservative credentials come under scrutinyKelly O'DonnellIowa
video thumbnailCBS2008 Presidential General Election field overviewCharacter revealed by values-related questionsKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailNBC2008 Mitt Romney campaignWife Ann reflects on faith, living with diseaseMika BrzezinskiCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSBank credit, debit card rates, fees, chargesSenate hearings into unwarranted rate hikesChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCDinosaur paleontology makes new discoveriesNGTV docu Dino Autopsy on fossil with skin in NDNed PotterNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CHANGE CHANGES NOTHING President George Bush ensured that Iran's nuclear ambitions would be Story of the Day for the second straight day when he called a press conference to respond to yesterday's National Intelligence Estimate. It found that Teheran's weapons development had been put on hold four years ago. "I have said Iran is dangerous and the NIE does not do anything to change my opinion," the President insisted. As much coverage as he attracted, however, none of the three newscasts placed him as its lead. All three kicked off with the floods in the Pacific Northwest that have cut off Interstate highway traffic from Seattle to Portland.

All three networks assigned their White House correspondent to Bush's position on Iran. "Key findings have certainly changed," asserted ABC's Martha Raddatz about Iran when "time and time again today the President stood firm saying that nothing has changed." Raddatz saw Bush "instantly and consistently on the defensive." CBS' Jim Axelrod found him "unmoved by a stark reversal." Axelrod asked Bush whether he had received advice "from your intelligence team or your administration" not to escalate his anti-Iran rhetoric once it was suspected that its weapons program was inactive. "Nobody ever told me that." NBC's David Gregory made note of the President's denial that he was "hyping the threat and undermining his own credibility."

NBC's anchor Brian Williams introduced his network's Iran coverage by quoting a Washington Post headline: "Neck Snapping Spin from the President." He asked State Department correspondent Andrea Mitchell to get the background from her spook sources. She called their reversal "dramatic and unprecedented in recent history." Their first clues that they had been "wrong for years" about ongoing secret weapons development came in spring from "multiple sources" including human spies, spy satellites, electronic intelligence and intercepted communications. The spies warned the President in August that their evidence might be accurate; and decided last Wednesday that it was indeed solid.

Teheran continues to enrich uranium, a program that "remains very active as we speak," according to CBS' London-based Elizabeth Palmer, with European nations exerting "huge" pressure to persuade Iran to halt. "The first sanctions started to bite a year ago. Food prices are up. Gasoline is being rationed." She reported that leaders of the Islamic Republic "continue to be very worried" that the United States and the United Nations will try to impose even stricter measures. Yet "maintaining an international coalition to confront Iran will no doubt be trickier now," mused CBS' Axelrod. He quoted the UN Ambassador from the People's Republic of China, a member of the Security Council: "Things have changed because of this latest NIE."


FRIENDLY WARLORDS The day's second major foreign policy story involved Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Kabul. NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski went along as Afghanistan suffers "a deadly spike in violence." His unidentified intelligence sources delivered troop estimates for Taliban guerrillas: 3,500 in 2004; at least 17,000 in 2007. "The Pentagon is looking to revamp its entire Afghanistan strategy, relying on lessons learned in the war in Iraq--one idea, providing arms to local friendly militias," presumably the latest euphemism for warlords. ABC conducted a Where Things Stand national public opinion survey of 1,400 Afghan civilians along with fellow broadcasters ARD and BBC, of German and Britain respectively. Anchor Charles Gibson (no link) tracked the falling approval of the US military--68% in 2005; 57% in 2006; 42% in 2007--while US reconstruction efforts get a positive 63% rating for effectiveness.

ABC also had Terry McCarthy take A Closer Look at the poverty of Chinese peasants along the Yangtze River that we would like to link to but now ABC has discontinued (text link) its News Now individual subscription service, that videostream is unavailable.


WHY DID THE SALMON CROSS THE ROAD? The waterlogged coastal plain of Washington and Oregon led off all three newscasts. ABC's Neal Karlinsky and CBS' Bill Whitaker were in Centralia. "This is not a lake behind me. This is I-5 the main north-south artery along the west coast," Whitaker demonstrated. Karlinsky showed us the detour on the map because of the 20-mile closure: the 165-mile Seattle-Portland route is now 440 miles. Some 110,000 residents have lost their electricity supply in the two states and at least five may be dead. NBC had George Lewis in Seattle where "mudslides crashing into houses" are a "continuing problem." Check out Lewis' "lighter moment" when rainsoaked residents started rooting for a salmon swimming across a flooded road.


GIFTS & HORSES NBC filed a couple of features on Republican Presidential frontrunners. Mika Brzezinski, of Morning Joe on NBC's sibling cable news channel MSNBC, sat down with would-be First Lady Ann Romney. Almost ten years ago she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis that led to psychological depression and "severe and debilitating symptoms." She recovered by riding horses: "Equine therapy is actually very, very helpful for regaining core strength and for regaining balance. It is also my joy therapy." When John Edwards' wife Elizabeth announced the recurrence of her cancer, how did Ann Romney react? "I was applauding her." "You spoke that day?" "I did. I called her."

Kelly O'Donnell's package on Mike Huckabee was less touchy-feely. Conceding that the pro-life, pro-hetero Baptist preacher is "reliably conservative on social values" O'Donnell looked into his ethics and fiscal credentials. "Huckabee admits a mixed record on taxes…a cut in the state income tax but others went up, like sales and gasoline taxes." In one year when he was Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee accepted more than $100,000 worth of gifts and was examined 16 times by his state's Ethics Commission. He reassured O'Donnell that none of the gifts was "illegal or improper" although he did admit "filing late paperwork."


AM I ALLOWED TO THINK ABOUT THIS? CBS anchor Katie Couric announced that she has returned from the campaign trail and will launch her series Primary Questions tomorrow. The format consists of asking the same ten questions to each of ten top Presidential candidates--among those excluded were Christopher Dodd, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter--and then editing together a montage of answers. Couric's stated goal is to reveal more about the candidates' "core values" less about their "policy positions." Couric sampled some of the posers she came up with: "What one book other than the Bible would you bring with you to the White House?" "Besides your family what are you most afraid of losing?" "Who is the single most impressive person you have ever met?"

She quoted sample answers, including this from Barack Obama: "I am going to have to think about this one. Am I allowed to think about this for a second?"


EMBARRASS A BANK All three newscasts sent correspondents to Capitol Hill where a Senate committee put Bank of America and Discover credit cards on the hot seat. At issue was a technique called "risk repricing," NBC's Lisa Myers told us, a legal way of hiking customers' monthly payments without warning. It applies even to good customers who always make timely payments, ABC's Lisa Stark (no link) warned, as higher interest rates kick in "if that customer's overall credit rating drops for some reason." CBS' Chip Reid noted that "some credit card companies have dropped the controversial practice" so one motive for the hearings was "to try to embarrass the companies into voluntarily changing their policies." Presumably orchestrating negative coverage on all three nightly newscasts contributed to that effort.


DUCK-BILLED RUNNER ABC closed with the hydrosaur, a 65m-year-old duck-billed plant eater whose fossil has been found in North Dakota. Unlike most dinosaurs it was "remarkably preserved," Ned Potter told us "with fossilized skin, ligaments and tendons. You can see the scales on its side." Potter explained the significance: just as one cannot tell an elephant has a trunk from its skeleton, so most bone-based dinosaur fossils "do not tell very much about what an animal really looked like." Potter's piece was a promo for Sunday's TV documentary Dino Autopsy on the National Geographic Channel. Hydrosaur's "surprisingly large hind quarters" mean it could probably go fast enough "to outrun Tyrannosaurus Rex."


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: President George Bush will visit Israel for the first time since he took office in 2001…Congress has still not approved extra Pentagon funding to pay for cost overruns in Iraq and Afghanistan…a global test of science knowledge finds American teenagers ranking 21st out of 30 industrialized nations, 25th out of 30 in mathematics…RJ Reynolds is in trouble for placing Camel ads next to cartoon spreads in a special section of Rolling Stone magazine.