CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 06, 2007
The aftermath of yesterday afternoon's Christmas shopping shooting in Omaha was the Story of the Day. ABC treated the shooting as most neworthy, filing three separate reports. ABC and CBS both led from outside the fatal department store in the Westroads shopping mall. NBC chose the formal speech in which Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney explained his position on the role of religion in the body politic. The most important news of the day--that the CIA had destroyed videotape evidence of its waterboarding torture of suspects--was mentioned only in passing and only by NBC. And there was not a single story filed from overseas on any of the three newscasts. The closest any came to a foreign story was a study by a business school in London that found a high incidence of dyslexia among American corporate fatcats.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 06, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCOmaha department store shooting leaves nine deadKiller had been troubled teen, left suicide noteLee CowanNebraska
video thumbnailABCOmaha department store shooting leaves nine deadMemorial for slain, mostly store employeesEric HorngNebraska
video thumbnailABCOmaha department store shooting leaves nine deadShopping malls balance security against accessPierre ThomasVirginia
video thumbnailCBSOmaha department store shooting leaves nine deadMall security relies on CCTV, unarmed guardsByron PittsConnecticut
video thumbnailNBC2008 Mitt Romney campaignDelivers formal address on religious toleranceRon AllenTexas
video thumbnailCBS2008 Presidential General Election field overviewTop ten candidates quizzed on their fear of lossKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailCBSReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increasePresident Bush unveils plan to help homeownersJim AxelrodWhite House
video thumbnailNBCWater utilities and infrastructure innovationsSewage purification in Cal; desalination in FlaMichelle KosinskiTampa
video thumbnailABCMultiple births: ten babies born to three mothersTrips, quads, trips in single ward in 50 hoursDavid MuirNo Dateline
video thumbnailNBCDyslexia learning disabilities researchChildren compensate, can excel later in businessNancy SnydermanAtlanta
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
NO CIA TORTURE, NO FOREIGN NEWS The aftermath of yesterday afternoon's Christmas shopping shooting in Omaha was the Story of the Day. ABC treated the shooting as most neworthy, filing three separate reports. ABC and CBS both led from outside the fatal department store in the Westroads shopping mall. NBC chose the formal speech in which Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney explained his position on the role of religion in the body politic. The most important news of the day--that the CIA had destroyed videotape evidence of its waterboarding torture of suspects--was mentioned only in passing and only by NBC. And there was not a single story filed from overseas on any of the three newscasts. The closest any came to a foreign story was a study by a business school in London that found a high incidence of dyslexia among American corporate fatcats.

"Instead of red ribbons and green bows," ABC's Chris Bury (no link) found "yellow tape" surrounding the Omaha crime scene. ABC played the EMS 911 audiotape of a voiceless emergency, "the operator hearing nothing but gunshots," as anchor Charles Gibson put it. All three networks had their computer graphics departments animate the route that Robert Hawkins, the suicidal 19-year-old, took to the third floor of the Van Naur department store as he killed six employees at the gift wrapping counter, two shoppers and then himself. He used an AK-47 assault rifle that is believed to have belonged to his stepfather.

ABC's Bury retraced Hawkins' "short tumultuous life" from his parents' divorce through foster care, group homes and treatment centers: "Working at McDonald's was a step up." NBC's Lee Cowan evoked Hawkins' "emotional mindset" in the days leading up to his murderous suicide: "He lost his job. He lost his girlfriend. And he had a court date pending on charges of underage drinking." And CBS' Dean Reynolds repeated police reports of "warning signs in text messages, telephone calls and notes to friends." At the end he was living at the house of a friend, whose mother, Debora Meruca Kovac quoted a suicide note she found in his bedroom to CBS' Reynolds: "I have been a piece of shit all my life. Now I will be famous." "Infamy," mused NBC's Cowan "is never well remembered and tonight thoughts remain mostly with his victims and not with him." However ABC's Eric Horng attended Omaha's vigil for the dead and counted nine candles.

CBS' Byron Pitts surveyed general security measures in the nation's 1,200-or-so major enclosed shopping malls. Mostly they rely on CCTV surveillance "that can zoom in on a license plate in the parking lot, follow a suspected shoplifter through the mall or home into a suspicious person." Human security consists mostly of unarmed uniformed guards and off-duty police officers. ABC's Pierre Thomas generalized that security is mostly designed "to respond to an attack rather than to prevent one." Shopping mall operators know that if security becomes airport-terminal-tight they will scare off customers: "Will American shoppers tolerate more draconian security?" Thomas wondered.

ABC News announced that cameraman Ralph Binder was killed in a car crash on his way to covering the Omaha shootings


SAVIOR OF MANKIND All three networks sent a reporter to the George Bush Library in Texas' College Station to listen to Republican Romney's address on religion: "Surrounded by the full trappings of a Presidential library with a Presidential introduction Mitt Romney tried very much to look Presidential," was how ABC's John Berman saw it. NBC's Ron Allen isolated one phrase as fundamental: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind." Commented Allen: "Despite the soaring rhetoric and Presidential setting, Romney's speech was pure politics." His job was to persuade the "one in four GOP voters who say they will not vote for him because of his faith" to change their minds. "Romney used the word 'Mormon' only once and never once said 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' its official name."

CBS' Bill Whitaker called Romney's speech "heavy on America's history of religious tolerance but light on his Mormon beliefs." Whitaker likened it to John Kennedy's 1960 speech in which the Democratic Presidential nominee explained the role of his Roman Catholic faith to his non-coreligionists. NBC's analysis by Tim Russert, anchor of Meet the Press, took the opposite view: "What Kennedy did was deemphasize religion" whereas, for Russert, Romney's key soundbite was "freedom requires religion." Surely, Russert wondered, "people who are not part of an organized religion can also participate fully in American democracy?"


MORE QUESTIONS Anchors at both ABC and CBS ran their Campaign 2008 features as the days count down to the Iowa caucuses. Katie Couric's theme for the day in her Primary Questions series on CBS--to which we gave the thumbs up yesterday (text link)--went like this: "Besides your family, what are you most afraid of losing?" Check for yourselves who answered what. Suffice it to say, our favorite answer was: "I am not afraid of dying and I am not afraid of anything else." Otherwise, three feared losing their health; three losing their reputation for integrity; one his enthusiasm; and two losing their love for the United States.

By the way, Mitt Romney's religious faith in the resurrection seems crystal clear: "I am going to be sad being away from them," he said, referring to his family, "when the end of life comes."

On ABC, Charles Gibson (no link) anchored from New Hampshire, where he interviewed Hillary Rodham Clinton for his Who Is? series. Her back story includes a childhood in suburban Chicago--"it was Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It To Beaver all rolled into one"--her teenage crush on pop idol Fabian, her frustrated aspiration to be an astronaut and her cowboy hat while campaigning as an AuH2O Goldwater Girl. She was homesick at Wellesley College and lovestruck at Yale Law School: "He was a force of nature. He was the center of most of the attention. I had never known anyone like him." That would be Bill Clinton, naturally.


UNFAIR TO STRUGGLERS For the second straight day all three networks examined the plan to help foreclosurebound homeowners with subprime mortgages avoid eviction. Yesterday the outlines of the Teaser Freezer plan were mapped out; now President George Bush makes the official announcement of a scheme that seeks to save 1.2m homes. CBS assigned White House correspondent Jim Axelrod to cover the "pressure from Wall Street and Main Street" on the President. Axelrod reckoned the plan would have "limited impact" since a further 2.5m delinquent owners will be ineligible. ABC had its economics correspondent Betsy Stark (no link) look at the scheme. She cited criticism that it "unfairly favors those who have managed their finances poorly over those who have struggled to manage them well." On NBC, Carl Quintanilla of CNBC, the networks sibling financial news channel, acknowledged the same criticism, but asked us to "look at where housing is the absolute worst"--Mich, Fla, Cal, Nev, Ohio--for an explanation: "states with a lot of electoral votes in next year's election."


TOILET TRAINING Michelle Kosinski filed a fun feature for NBC's Our Planet series on the latest technology to provide plenty of potable municipal water. On the Pacific coast in California's Orange County, reverse osmosis treats waste water from "toilet to tap as it is unappetizingly called." Do not worry, Kosinski reassured us: "It is not actually straight to your sink." The water goes from sewers through membranes into chemicals through soil filters into underground aquifers before being pumped into the water supply. In Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico 200 miles of desalination filters turn the sea into tapwater in one hour. Kosinski drank a glass just to prove it. It is not so green however. The plant's "carbon footprint is big, $10m in coal-fired electricity per year."


GMA REDUX David Muir's story from New Orleans on ABC must have reminded anchor Charles Gibson of those saccharine Baby Oh! Baby specials he enjoyed as morning anchor on Good Morning America. In the space of 50 hours, the maternity ward at Ochsner Medical Center saw three births producing ten children: first triplets, then quadruplets, then triplets again. "That is 100 fingers and 100 toes in all," Muir gushed.


SPELL THIS And NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman filed that only story all day that had any hint of an overseas angle. A study by the Cass Business School in London claimed that as many as one in three American entrepreneurs had been identified with the dyslexia learning disability as a child. Snyderman illustrated dyslexic problems with an eight-year-old's typical writing error: Awen Most Grenk Hir Milk is a rendition of Ann Must Drink Her Milk. The business school's theory is that dyslexic people develop other skills to compensate--skills like oral communication, delegation of tasks, problem solving--that stand them in good stead later in life. Snyderman cited the Virgin conglomerate's tireless Richard Branson as her Exhibit A, even though he himself attributes his success "in small part" to his dyslexia.


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 Pentagon audit found that $1bn in materiel assigned for reconstruction in Iraq is unaccounted for…a technical glitch delayed the launch of NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis…the National Christmas Tree was official illuminated on the DC Mall…and, to reiterate, the CIA videotaped its spooks engaging in the waterboard torture and destroyed the evidence.