CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 17, 2007
A light day of news saw no international news warranting coverage by a foreign correspondent--not Fidel Castro's announced intention not to return to office in Cuba, not Iran's acquisition of nuclear power plant fuel from Russia. Neither was there consensus on the day's lead story. NBC chose news from its own network, where talkshow hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have decided to cross their own striking writers' picket line. ABC led with the countdowns to the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. CBS picked Christmas shopping. Amid all this aimlessness, CBS' campaign feature in its Primary Questions series attracted most airtime, qualifying losing one's temper as Story of the Day.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 17, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday seasonShopping slows, women's apparel sales lagBarbara PintoChicago
video thumbnailCBSSupermarket grocery food prices escalateInflation led by hikes in cereal grains, dairyCynthia BowersChicago
video thumbnailABC2008 Iowa caucuses previewedHectic campaigning before Christmas breakKate SnowIowa
video thumbnailNBC2008 Iowa caucuses previewedHectic campaigning before Christmas breakLee CowanIowa
video thumbnailNBC2008 Mike Huckabee campaignGranted clemency frequently as Arkansas governorLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBS2008 Presidential General Election field overviewTop ten candidates quizzed on their temperKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailCBSDeath Penalty controversiesNew Jersey ends executions, life prison insteadBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailABCDeath Penalty controversiesVirginia's executioner had no medical trainingJim AvilaNew York
video thumbnailNBCIllegal immigration increases, sparks backlashArizona will ban firms hiring undocumented laborPeter AlexanderPhoenix
video thumbnailNBCHollywood screenwriters' union declares strikeLate-night TV hosts to cross picket linesRon AllenNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
TEMPER TEMPER A light day of news saw no international news warranting coverage by a foreign correspondent--not Fidel Castro's announced intention not to return to office in Cuba, not Iran's acquisition of nuclear power plant fuel from Russia. Neither was there consensus on the day's lead story. NBC chose news from its own network, where talkshow hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have decided to cross their own striking writers' picket line. ABC led with the countdowns to the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. CBS picked Christmas shopping. Amid all this aimlessness, CBS' campaign feature in its Primary Questions series attracted most airtime, qualifying losing one's temper as Story of the Day.

Christmas is coming and retail sales are "now expected to be the slowest in years," warned CBS' Anthony Mason. He quoted President George Bush's warning on the economic outlook: "There are definitely some storm clouds and concerns." Both Mason and ABC's Barbara Pinto pointed to a fall in sales of women's clothing. Mason called it "an ominous sign." Staying with the President's meteorological analogy Pinto called apparel "an important barometer of this shopping season." This year's popular presents--UGG boots, Nintendo Wii, flat screen TVs--"are all reruns from Christmas past." Pinto pointed out that "there is worry about inflation"--food and especially gasoline. CBS' Cynthia Bowers picked up on food inflation. She called the price of milk "really hard to swallow" and blamed cereals. "The grains it takes to feed animals and make many foods--corn, soybeans, wheat, rice--have all recently hit record highs."

ABC closed with Bill Weir's (no link) tribute to the "staggering logistical feat" of the overnight parcel delivery business, an industry laboring right now through its busiest 24 hours of the year. FedEx, for example, delivered 11.3m packages overnight. Weir traced the progress of one gift box of holiday chocolates from a confectionery boutique in New York City to a lucky non-locavore recipient in Savannah Ga. To travel that 800 miles as the crow flies, FedEx took the chocolates on a non-carbon-neutral detour through "the busiest freight hub in the world" in Memphis, where a jet lands at its sorting center every 30 seconds.


NODS FOR MCC & HRC Endorsements were the theme of the day on the campaign trail. Terry Moran (no link), anchor of ABC's Nightline kicked off with Republican John McCain in New Hampshire, where he received the Boston Globe's nod and the backing of one-time Democrat, now independent Connecticut senator, Joseph Lieberman. "Do you think they bring votes?" Moran inquired. "I think they bring credibility. I do not know if they bring votes." Moran mused that the Republican race "is shaping up more and more as culture clash" with Mike Huckabee's opponents competing for the non-born-again vote: "fiscal conservatives, pro-war voters still up for grabs." New Hampshire is all or nothing for McCain. Moran called him "honest about it. He says if he does not do well here, very well, he will not be able to keep going and try to unite a party that is looking more and more deeply fractured."

In Iowa, the Des Moines Register sided with Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic race. ABC's Kate Snow called it "a little bit of good news" for the former First Lady while NBC's Lee Cowan saw the nod as reinvigorating, restoring "a swagger in her step." Warned Cowan: "The clock is ticking. With Christmas next week most campaigning will come to a temporary halt." With that in mind Republican Huckabee took out on Iowa TV ad in the holiday spirit: "What really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ." Facing attacks from Mitt Romney on his record on immigration, law enforcement and taxes, ABC's George Stephanopoulos called Huckabee's Xmas spot "just ingenious." Not only does it "remind evangelical Christians that Huckabee is one of them; it also suggests that anyone who is doing a normal attack ad is being Scroogelike at Christmastime. I think it is very effective."

Meanwhile Republican Ron Paul raised $6m in a single day's funds drive. No networks assigned a correspondent to that feat.


VERY CHRISTIAN NBC assigned investigative correspondent Lisa Myers to look into the 1,023 commutations and pardons granted by Republican Mike Huckabee when he was Governor of Arkansas--the quantity of mercy condemned by his rival Mitt Romney in a negative TV ad in Iowa. Myers agreed that Huckabee was indeed very forgiving, the number of convicted criminals granted clemency was "twice as many as his three predecessors combined." She reported prosecutors as generalizing that many of those released "claimed to have found religion in prison and were backed by ministers." At the time Huckabee himself "acknowledged that his belief in redemption factored into his decisions." Now he cites other non-faith-based factors--"the inmate's institutional record, a sense of true remorse and, most of all, that there had been many, many years passed."


WHAT PISSES ME OFF Anchor Katie Couric risked getting her candidates pissed off by the personal question she posed to all ten for the Tyndall Report's favorite (text link) newscast series Primary Questions. "When was the last time you lost your temper and what came of it?"

They could not even agree on what "losing one's temper" means…

…being in a bad mood at sports team--Rudolph Giuliani
…inconveniencing supporters--Fred Thompson
…a little bit of inner rage--Bill Richardson
…getting angry at George Bush--Barack Obama
…feeling humiliated--Mike Huckabee
…being irritated by her pet dog--Hillary Rodham Clinton
…feeling tired and disagreed with--John Edwards
…frustrated by staffers fudging facts--Joe Biden
…getting emotionally involved in issues--John McCain
…a fellow motorist flips him the bird--Mitt Romney

And for the record…

"Only occasionally do I lose my temper"--Giuliani
"It ends quickly"--Richardson
"I actually am pretty even keeled"--Obama
"I try not to lose my temper"--Rodham Clinton
"There is a lot more equanimity"--Biden
"I believe in reconciliation"--McCain
"The result of anger is being hurt yourself and not accomplishing anything"--Romney

So that leaves the three southerners in the race--Edwards, Thompson, Huckabee--willing to rant and rave.


EXECUTIONER’S SECRET BURDEN Last Thursday, NBC's Pete Williams covered New Jersey's decision to repeal the state's death penalty when the measure passed its legislature. Now Bob Orr covers the story for CBS upon its enactment into law. Orr called the law "highly symbolic" since it imposes life in prison on just eight Death Row residents. Even when the law was on the books, no one had been executed in the Garden State since 1963. Meanwhile on ABC, Jim Avila claimed an Exclusive for his profile of Jerry Gibbons, the executioner for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1982 through 1999. First by electrocution, then by lethal injection, Gibbons, a guard at the Greensville Correctional Center, killed inmates legally 62 times.

Avila explained that medical ethics prohibit physicians from administering the deadly cocktail of medicines that form a lethal injection. "Have you had any medical training?" he asked Gibbons. "No--well, first aid, yes." Did he know the names of the drugs? "I go by the number." Gibbons kept his executioner's role secret, even from his wife: "He did not want to burden her." Concluded Avila: "It is a job this man wishes on no one else--and regrets taking himself."


MASSIVE SUNBELT LAYOFFS LOOM Come the New Year, a new business licensing law goes into effect in Arizona covering all 150,000 firms in the state that will make one worker in ten unemployed. Peter Alexander explained for NBC's In Depth: "Any business found hiring or employing an illegal immigrant could lose its license altogether." The problem is that the state's economy is growing fast and unemployment there is very low, yet within two weeks businesses will have to lay off the estimated 10% of the statewide labor force that has no working papers. "Businesses are already firing Hispanic immigrants, reconsidering expansion plans and even moving operations out of state." Alexander repeated the new slogan at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce: Help Wanted.


NAVEL GAZING So little news attracted NBC's attention that it offered us four items about itself. Anchor Brian Williams (no link) showed us a clip of his colleague Ann Curry of Today bunjee jump off a bridge in England for charity: "We know Ann has guts. It turns out she also has great form"…He unveiled the new voice of his newscast, the announcer who welcomes us to "NBC News world headquarters" is "actor, producer, Academy Award winner" Michael Douglas--we prefer to think of him as Kirk's son…Robert Bazell used a cross promotion with the reality gameshow Project Runway on NBC's Bravo channel to update us on the nationwide spread of MRSA staph skin infections: the episode, taped five weeks ago, in which contestant Jack Mackenroth was forced to leave because of staph has just aired; in the meantime Mackenroth, hospitalized for five days, has been cured…and Ron Allen led off the newscast with the decision by two of NBC's biggest stars--Jay Leno of Tonight and Conan O'Brien of Late Night--to become scabs.

Well, Allen did not use that word scab per se. He did remind us that Leno "had walked the picket line." He said the two celebrities "broke ranks with the union." He noted that "many strikers feel betrayed." And he warned that many "big name stars may not want to cross the picket lines to make guest appearances." Meanwhile on CBS, Sandra Hughes speculated that David Letterman's Late Show may be next to return to work "with its writing staff, a move made possible because the show is produced by Letterman's independent production company not a network or major studio."


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: as indicated above, Fidel Castro may step down in Cuba and nuclear fuel has arrived in Iran…also…billionaire Warren Buffett suffered a $7bn stock market selloff after his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, was criticized by Barron's magazine…King Abdullah pardoned the woman who was raped and then imprisoned for not being with her husband…the annual decoration of the tombstones at Arlington Cemetery attracted 10,000 wreaths…singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg died, aged 56.