CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 10, 2007
Campaign 2008 is intensifying. CBS News published a nationwide opinion poll showing Mike Huckabee closing in on Rudolph Giuliani's lead in the Republican horse race standings and Barack Obama making inroads on Hillary Rodham Clinton among Democrats. Obama's weekend barnstorming with TV talkshow host Oprah Winfrey was CBS' lead and Story of the Day. In all, campaign coverage occupied 18 minutes on the three newscasts combined, 32% of their total newshole. NBC led with winter weather as an icestorm paralyzed the southern plains. ABC followed up on Friday's Story of the Day with an Exclusive on waterboarding torture by the CIA.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 10, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignBarnstorms with Oprah Winfrey in Iowa, NH, SCDean ReynoldsSouth Carolina
video thumbnailNBC2008 Mike Huckabee campaignTries to extend support beyond religious rootsTim RussertWashington DC
video thumbnailABCCIA accused of rendition, torture of suspectsFormer agent describes waterboarding in 2002Brian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSCIA accused of rendition, torture of suspectsClandestine head had torture video destroyedDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSNuclear power plant waste secured in RussiaFormer Soviet utilities produce spent fuel rodsBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCDiagnostic nuclear scans face isotope shortageOntario facility closed, patients put on holdRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailCBSWar on Drugs: crack cocaine prison terms protestedSupreme Court allows lower courts' leniencyWyatt AndrewsSupreme Court
video thumbnailNBCMedicare program problems, reforms, abusesFraud crackdown on Florida medical supply firmsMark PotterMiami
video thumbnailABCColo seminary, megachurch shootings: five deadFormer missionary student kills four, is killedMiguel MarquezColorado
video thumbnailNBCWinter weatherIcestorm across central states blacks out powerDon TeagueOklahoma
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
TALE OF TORTURE FROM FAISALABAD Campaign 2008 is intensifying. CBS News published a nationwide opinion poll showing Mike Huckabee closing in on Rudolph Giuliani's lead in the Republican horse race standings and Barack Obama making inroads on Hillary Rodham Clinton among Democrats. Obama's weekend barnstorming with TV talkshow host Oprah Winfrey was CBS' lead and Story of the Day. In all, campaign coverage occupied 18 minutes on the three newscasts combined, 32% of their total newshole. NBC led with winter weather as an icestorm paralyzed the southern plains. ABC followed up on Friday's Story of the Day with an Exclusive on waterboarding torture by the CIA.

ABC's Brian Ross introduced us to John Kiriakou, the former spy who was "a team leader for the CIA-FBI squad" that captured and interrogated suspected al-Qaeda network leader abu-Zubaydah in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad in the spring of 2002. Kiriakou described obtaining approval from his CIA superiors in Washington to go ahead with the waterboarding of their prisoner. "Would you call it torture?" "At the time, no. I think I have changed my mind."

Kiriakou recalled that abu-Zubaydah "was able to withstand the waterboarding for quite some time--and by that I mean probably 30, 35 seconds." Within a few days the prisoner agreed to cooperate and confessed to plots for "a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks." Ross asked: "So in your view, the waterboarding broke him?" "I think it did, yes." "Did it compromise American principles or did it save American lives?" "I think both."

NBC failed to file any follow-up on the CIA story. On CBS, Pentagon correspondent David Martin named the second prisoner whose waterboarding was videotaped by the CIA and whose videotape was later destroyed. Friday, Martin hinted that he was Ramsi bin al-Shibh. Now he identifies him as abdal-Rashim al-Nashiri. Martin also identified Jose Rodriguez, the head of the CIA's clandestine service, as the official who ordered the videotape destroyed. He did so "without telling then CIA Director Porter Goss and against the advice of the CIA's own general counsel, the White House deputy counsel and the ranking Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee."

As for Kiriakou, Martin reported that the former spy told him that he "refused to use the harsh interrogation techniques. That job, he said, was turned over to retired commandos under contract to the CIA."


NO MORE NUKES CBS and NBC both ran nuclear stories--NBC benign ones and CBS scary. CBS' feature by Bob Orr was an Exclusive on the Department of Energy's "nuclear SWAT teams" that gather up spent fuel rods from Soviet-era nuclear power plants. That work has special urgency, Orr reminded us, since just 12 days ago border guards in Slovakia intercepted smugglers trying to sell enriched uranium. The rods are transferred in "shielded blue transfer tanks" and kept at a "secure secret storage facility in Russia." Orr showed us the map: the plants are in the former Soviet Union--Latvia, Uzbekhistan; the Third World--Libya, Vietnam; the former Yugoslavia--Serbia; and former Warsaw Pact nations--Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria.

NBC's Robert Bazell told us about the Chalk River nuclear processing plant in Ontario that is the source of most of the radioactive isotopes used in nuclear diagnostic screening in hospitals throughout the United States--some 15m scans each year. The plant was closed in November and will not produce the isotope for another three months so already tests are being skipped and labs have started triage.


SURGE FROM OBAMA & HUCKABEE Oprah Winfrey's appearances over the weekend in support of Democrat Barack Obama were quite the thing. NBC anchor Brian Williams totaled up the crowds in Iowa. New Hampshire and South Carolina and offered a 60,000 estimate; ABC's David Wright (no link) found 65,000; CBS' Dean Reynolds heard "the cheers of some 70,000 rapturous fans." He went so far as to call Winfrey "the world's most famous woman"--which must come as a surprise to the Queen Elizabeth II of England. NBC's Lee Cowan called New Hampshire's event the "largest pre-primary crowd any candidate has ever had." Call it "Oprahbama…the OO…Oprahpalooza" the event was "a picture of momentum." ABC's Wright was skeptical, noting that Bruce Springsteen's 2004 endorsement for John Kerry before an 80,000 crowd "did not count for much." The Obama camp countered that they had a name, telephone number and e-mail address for everyone who attended--and in South Carolina two-thirds of the crowd had never communicated with the campaign before.

Both NBC and CBS had their Sunday morning anchors chime in on Mike Huckabee's success in Republican standings. Bob Schieffer of CBS' Face the Nation noted that Huckabee "sort of slipped in there" while Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney were "sparring and fighting." Huckabee "makes a good interview; he makes a good appearance on the campaign trail; he seems very real, very authentic; it is very hard not to like him." His problem? "He has to begin to raise some money." Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press felt Huckabee becoming "more than just an Iowa sensation--he is beginning to become a serious threat for the nomination." A slogan in his TV advertising has switched from Christian Leader to Proven Leader. Huckabee's rival Romney sat down with CBS anchor Katie Couric and repeated the Constitutional maxim: "No religious test should ever be required for qualification for office." He found it "unusual" that Huckabee was using the Christian slogan but was content that the former Governor of Arkansas would lose on his record: "Soft on criminals, soft on illegal aliens, but hard on taxpayers," as Romney dubbed him.


HEALTHCARE COSTS ABC launched a series Critical Condition on how the issue of healthcare would play out in Campaign 2008. Anchor Charles Gibson interviewed a trio of experts to draw out the battle lines: Gail Wilensky of Project HOPE, Drew Altman of the Kaiser Family Foundation, Karen Davis of the Commonwealth Fund. All agreed that healthcare was not so much an issue for the primary campaign--since most Republicans share one platform and most Democrats another--but for the General Election. Altman called them "fundamental fork-in-the-road differences" between Democrats, who want to improve the current system, and Republicans, who have no commitment to universal coverage and focus on "insurance purchased by individuals with a tax break." Gibson summarized with a rule of thumb: all candidates who pledge to make healthcare universal will hike taxes; all candidates who pledge "no new taxes" implicitly eliminate universal healthcare from their platform.

As for current government healthcare, NBC's Mark Potter took an In Depth look at the FBI's crackdown on Medicare fraud in Florida. The most lucrative ripoff involves bills for "durable medical equipment" such as oxygen generators, breathing machines and orthopedic gear. A single $5,000 electric wheelchair had been billed for sale to phantom patients so many times that Medicare had cut $5m in checks for it. Many equipment firms "are simply fronts for illegal billing with virtually nothing inside." Potter's cameras showed FBI agents visit one so-called medical supply company: "In the middle of the day the door is locked; the phone unanswered; no sign of legitimate business."


BREAKING ROCKS All three networks covered the Supreme Court ruling on prison sentences for crack cocaine. ABC mentioned it only in passing; NBC had Pete Williams file a live stand-up; CBS assigned Wyatt Andrews to a full story. Andrews noted that the 100-to-1 disparity in punishments--50g of cocaine in rock form is treated as severely to 5kg of powder--"has long had racial overtones." The federal Sentencing Commission has concluded that the draconian law "was mostly putting away low-level street dealers and undermining African-American confidence in the courts." The Supreme Court now allows judges discretion in 30% of cases concerning extra penalties but not in the underlying mandatory minimums: "The 100-to-1 disparity still exists and only Congress can change that."


YOUTH WITH A MISSION Another local crime story made it onto the networks' news agenda. Last week saw nine dead in an Omaha department store grab headlines; now five fatalities in Colorado are deemed worthy of attention: two at the Youth With a Mission seminary in Arvada Colo; three, including the accused killer himself, at a megachurch in Colorado Springs. NBC's Leanne Gregg reported that the gunman, 24-year-old Matthew Murray, had been "thrown out of the missionary group in Arvada three years ago." ABC's Miguel Marquez related how Murray advanced on the new Life Church, which has ties to the missionary training camp, during Sunday services with "an assault rifle, two handguns, smoke grenades and 1,000 rounds of ammo." He was confronted by a congregant "with a background in law enforcement" who had volunteered to serve as a security guard at the church entrance. "She is a real hero," praised New Life pastor Brady Boyd.


LINCOLN ON ICE All three networks showed us the wintry scenes across the southern plains as ice, as much as half an inch thick, made roads impassable and tree limbs so heavy that they snapped off. Power lines were broken and some 600,000 suffered electricity blackouts, including Tulsa Airport. Traffic accidents killed at least twelve. NBC led its newscast with the icestorm from Oklahoma: Don Teague called the scene "at once beautiful and dangerous." ABC had Steve Osunsami (no link) in St Louis where, he warned, daylong rain would be turned into yet more ice overnight. CBS's New-York-based Byron Pitts narrated footage from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. He showed us Honest Abe with icicles for eyebrows: "Statues were literally frozen in time in Springfield."


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 Nobel Peace Prize was formally presented to Al Gore for his activism against global warming…Argentina's First Lady Cristina Fernandez was sworn in as her husband's successor, president in her own right…the average cost of a gallon of gasoline has fallen back to $3…former NFL star Michael Vick was formally sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for running dogfights…Led Zeppelin played at a reunion rock concert in London, together for the first time in 27 years.