CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 18, 2007
Bits and pieces of the federal government made a push to make major news but none quite pulled it off. The Pentagon issued its quarterly report on progress in Iraq--but only NBC had a reporter mention it. The Federal Reserve Board unveiled banking regulations to prevent a repeat of the subprime mortgage fiasco--but none of the networks led with it. Congress finally passed energy legislation--but CBS did not cover it. ABC led with a follow-up on last week's icestorm in Oklahoma. CBS concentrated on the Presidential campaign. Only NBC followed a federal lead, kicking off with the energy bill, which qualified as a lackluster Story of the Day, lackluster because of CBS' disdain.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 18, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCEnergy policy: federal legislation compromiseEfficiency for autos, ethanol, home appliancesLisa StarkWashington DC
video thumbnailABCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseLoans transferred, owners unable to renegotiateBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailNBCTurkey-Kurdistan frictions along Iraq borderAnti-guerrilla raids given US surveillance aidJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailNBCIraq: post-war reconstruction effortsKirkuk oil industry antiquated, pipeline revivesStephanie GoskIraq
video thumbnailCBS2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignSeeks to showcase softer side on stumpJim AxelrodIowa
video thumbnailNBC2008 John McCain campaignWins endorsements, rebounds in New HampshireKelly O'DonnellCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBS2008 Mike Huckabee campaignTries to parlay poll surge into fundraisingNancy CordesDallas
video thumbnailABC2008 Rudolph Giuliani campaignSkips early states, relies on Super Tuesday winsJake TapperIowa
video thumbnailNBCPentecostal Christians build urban megachurchesChurch of God in Christ fundraises for AfricaJohn LarsonLos Angeles
video thumbnailCBSPerformance artist leads Church of Stop ShoppingMovie docu profiles anti-consumerist Rev BillyAnthony MasonNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
NOT VERY ENERGETIC Bits and pieces of the federal government made a push to make major news but none quite pulled it off. The Pentagon issued its quarterly report on progress in Iraq--but only NBC had a reporter mention it. The Federal Reserve Board unveiled banking regulations to prevent a repeat of the subprime mortgage fiasco--but none of the networks led with it. Congress finally passed energy legislation--but CBS did not cover it. ABC led with a follow-up on last week's icestorm in Oklahoma. CBS concentrated on the Presidential campaign. Only NBC followed a federal lead, kicking off with the energy bill, which qualified as a lackluster Story of the Day, lackluster because of CBS' disdain.

Both ABC's Lisa Stark and NBC's Anne Thompson zeroed in on the automobile fuel efficiency provision of the omnibus energy bill as its key provision. Both reported that average fuel efficiency of cars and trucks will have to increase to 35 mpg by 2020. Thompson called that a 40% increase; Stark calculated a cut in gasoline consumption of 10%. But then Stark claimed that this 10% reduction "will save consumers as much as $1,000 a year at the pump," implying that the average motorist spends $10,000 annually on gasoline today.

These numbers make no sense.

NBC's Thompson reeled off some of the bill's other provisions: a required increase in ethanol production--"from switch grass and wood chips, non-food sources"--and increased efficiency in household appliances such as lightbulbs, dishwashers, refrigerators and clothes washers. Under a threat of veto by President George Bush, utilities will not be required to produce 15% of their electricity "from renewable sources such as wind and solar" and Big Oil will not lose $13bn in federal subsidies in the form of corporate tax breaks.

By the way, ABC's lead was from Barbara Pinto (no link) in Oklahoma City, where energy conservation is breaking all records. It is now nine days since that icestorm brought down electricity powerlines yet 50,000 homes and businesses "are still in the dark."


NOT READY FOR PRIME The Federal Reserve Board's revised banking regulations will forbid lenders from offering mortgages to would-be homebuyers who have no proof of income or who cannot afford to pay insurance and real estate taxes. Banks will be obliged to offer early payment plans. CNBC's economist Steve Liesman told NBC anchor Brian Williams that "$1.5tr worth of subprime mortgages later" regulators "are finally getting around to really clamping down on the abuses in predatory lending." The new rules also bring an end to junk fax offering discount loans.

Betsy Stark took A Closer Look for ABC at lenders who have already taken out a subprime mortgage and are looking to refinance it to avoid eviction from a foreclosed property. She followed Denise Carruth, a Sacramento homeowner, who took out of loan from BNC, which sold the paper to Aurora Loan Services. Aurora could not renegotiate because it was "unable to locate an account number under the name and address provided." It turned out Aurora had sold the loan on to Sale 2005-11, a Wall Street investment trust. "It does not take calls from homeowners."

The final week of November saw the schoolteachers of Jefferson County Fla facing financial crisis. The school district was suddenly unable to make payroll because the county's funds were invested in a pool run by the state, CBS' Kelly Cobiella explained. "Florida is one of 45 states that offer investment pools to local governments as a safe way to earn interest on their cash"--except safe it was not. November 29th, Black Thursday, saw a crash in the value of its real-estate-backed assets, which were tied to subprime mortgages. Now the school district's advisors have called the investments worthless--it "may have to swallow the loss."


REGIME CHANGE NBC filed a couple of stories on Iraq. From the Pentagon, Jim Miklaszewski wrapped up Turkey's cross-border military incursion into Kurdistan--"technically the United States did not give the green light" but it did supply "real time surveillance" using drones and a U-2 spy plane. He took note that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had emphasized the "improved security" found in the Pentagon's quarterly report. And he found that unnamed "administration officials" have regime change on their minds for Iraq. Since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "may never reach political reconciliation" with his Sunni opposition "they would like to see al-Maliki actually removed from office."

Stephanie Gosk filed from northern Iraq, where the USArmy's Corps of Engineers has built a 50-mile-long security zone along an oil pipeline that begins in Kirkuk. Gosk showed us razor wire on a fence in front of a sand berm on top of a ditch. It is helping oil flow more freely--of the 32m barrels the pipeline has pumped so far this year, the last two months have accounted for 20m. The plant in Kirkuk at the head of the pipeline is another matter. Its manager gave Gosk a guided tour showing equipment that was installed in 1975…1962…1954. "Big international oil companies are eager to invest," Gosk claimed, "but are waiting because Iraq's parliament cannot agree on how to divide oil revenues."


HARD SELL FOR SOFT SIDE CBS devoted half of its newscast to a round-up from the campaign trail. It led off from Iowa with Democrats, Jim Axelrod with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dean Reynolds (at the tail of the Axelrod videostream) with Barack Obama. Reynolds saw Obama scale back on his intensity, confident in his "belief that he has won a major argument of this campaign, that voters want a candidate who can lead the country in a new direction over one with more experience." Axelrod reported that Rodham Clinton's strategy is to appeal as much to voters' "hearts as to the heads" by emphasizing "her softer side." An unnamed "senior" advisor told Axelrod: "It was a hard sell to get her to open up personally on the stump." From Washington, Bob Schieffer advised CBS anchor Katie Couric not to be misled by all the Iowa publicity lavished on those two: "John Edwards has been campaigning out there longer than he was in the United States Senate."


MUDDLED & FLUID The Republican race was treated as more newsworthy: CBS and NBC filed a report on John McCain's rebound in New Hampshire to match ABC's lead by Terry Moran (no link) yesterday; CBS looked at Mike Huckabee; and ABC picked Rudolph Giuliani. CBS' Bob Schieffer even took a moment to speculate about Ron Paul and his $24m warchest: "He is going to take votes away from somebody…but at this point you cannot find anybody who can tell you who he is going to hurt."

Why is McCain on the advance once more after his "political near death experience," as NBC Kelly O'Donnell put it? She cited "a bundle of unexpected endorsements" and "his biggest advantage now--the muddled Republican field. No clear leader means McCain gets another shot to revive his chances." On CBS, Jeff Greenfield agreed about the endorsements--"the conservative Manchester Union Leader and the liberal Boston Globe, a first-time feat"--and also mentioned his debating style. McCain himself gave credit to Gen David Petraeus, whose tactics in Iraq McCain had championed: "I do not think my candidacy could have been revived if the Petraeus strategy failed."

CBS' Nancy Cordes followed Huckabee as he went "crisscrossing Texas, campaigning not for votes but for money." The size of Huckabee's campaign staff has "suddenly doubled" and he needs funds to "buy the ads that will help him raise awareness." The latest GOP fundraising statistics had Mitt Romney at $63m, Rudolph Giuliani at $47m and Huckabee at $2m. As for Giuliani, ABC's Jake Tapper found him "trying to rewrite the rules of nomination politics" by skipping the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina to concentrate on the 20 states holding primaries on February 5th. Tapper called Giuliani "noticeably absent" having "marginalized himself from the conversation." Tapper's conclusion was that "Giuliani is counting on no single opponent getting any momentum from early victories. With a Republican race this fluid that is a possibility--but it has never happened before."


CRENSHAW TO CAMEROON NBC had John Larson visit the cathedral that is the home of "one of the fastest growing religious movements in the world." Bishop Charles Blake's congregation of 24,000 souls at the megachurch on Crenshaw Boulevard in central Los Angeles is part of the 6m-strong Church of God in Christ. Larson offered a brief background on Pentecostal Christianity, founded in a revival in 1906, known for speaking in tongues and "high energy celebration." Now this mostly African-American church "is going global" launching a $6m mission called Save Africa's Children to 23 countries--"from Crenshaw all the way to Cameroon."


SHOPOCALYPSE NOW In the Christmas spirit, all three newscast ran a feature--no, not on the baby Jesus--but on shopping. ABC had Dan Harris look at retailers' offers to contribute a portion of the revenue for each sale to charity. Harris concluded--unlike NBC, whose anchor Brian Williams is an enthusiastic fan of rock star Bono's Campaign Red--that this is mostly a marketing gimmick: "If you really want to help your favorite charity during the holidays you may be better off just cutting them a check." NBC's Kevin Tibbles survey suddenly popular retail gift cards: "The stigma that they are bland and thoughtless has apparently vanished." On CBS, the nod went to Rev Billy, the New York City performance artist who runs the Church of Stop Shopping. Anthony Mason introduced us to Billy Talen, the down-with-consumerism satirist who is the hero of a new movie What Would Jesus Buy?. The documentary shows the Rev Billy's antics "get him escorted out of the Mall of America and arrested at Disneyland."

His parting slogan: Save Christmas from the Shopocalypse!


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 Federal Communications Commission lifted its ban on mergers between newspapers and local television stations in the nation's major cities…General Motors announced a price increase next year of $1,500 per car…a Russian freighter foundered in Arctic Ocean waters north of Murmansk, its crew rescued by a Norwegian helicopter…the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is under way for the world's Moslems…a 700-year-old manuscript of Magna Carta is being sold at auction to raise funds for a charity run by Ross Perot.