CONTAINING LINKS TO 48952 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 19, 2007
For the second time this week, CBS' ten-part series Primary Questions qualified as Story of the Day. This time anchor Katie Couric asked all ten candidates whether they could "understand or appreciate" the point of view of voters who do "not feel comfortable supporting a candidate who has not remained faithful to his, or her, spouse." Couric's eight-minute montage of ten answers by top Presidential contenders occupied more airtime than the story that both ABC and CBS picked for their lead--a plan to ease airline traffic delays by limiting the number of flights at New York City's Kennedy Airport. NBC chose an electrical fire at the Executive Office Building next to the White House.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 19, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBS2008 qualifications, attributes, litmus testsSome voters DQ unfaithful spouses from officeKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailCBS2008 South Carolina primary previewedBlack women for Obama, Christians for HuckabeeBill WhitakerSouth Carolina
video thumbnailNBCWhite House Executive Office Building fireVice President's ceremonial office smoke damageJohn YangWhite House
video thumbnailCBSAirline travel: disruptions, delays, cancelationsJFK Airport traffic to be cut to ease congestionBill PlanteVirginia
video thumbnailABCIraq: civilian contractors provide logistics supportHouse hearings on Green Zone rape case immunityBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailABCMilitary personnel face family, personal problemsColonel's wife gathers gifts for Iraqi childrenBob WoodruffNew York
video thumbnailNBCMonkeys infest streets, parks of DelhiDriven into city by depletion of forest habitatIan WilliamsNew Delhi
video thumbnailABCSierra Nevada storm traps family for three nightsSearching for Christmas tree, cut off by snowBrian RooneyCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSChristmas holiday seasonFamily cards often feature hard-to-take baby pixAnthony MasonNew Jersey
video thumbnailNBC2008 tactics: advertising themes and trendsCandidates avoid attack ads over ChristmasAndrea MitchellWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CAN ONLY THE LOYAL BE LEADERS? For the second time this week, CBS' ten-part series Primary Questions qualified as Story of the Day. This time anchor Katie Couric asked all ten candidates whether they could "understand or appreciate" the point of view of voters who do "not feel comfortable supporting a candidate who has not remained faithful to his, or her, spouse." Couric's eight-minute montage of ten answers by top Presidential contenders occupied more airtime than the story that both ABC and CBS picked for their lead--a plan to ease airline traffic delays by limiting the number of flights at New York City's Kennedy Airport. NBC chose an electrical fire at the Executive Office Building next to the White House.

You have got to admire Couric's gall in asking such a touchy question. As Joe Biden listened to it he rolled his eyes to the ceiling and his first answer was: "Look! This is really dicey territory." When Hillary Rodham Clinton answered her eyes popped so wide we could see white all around her irises.

CBS News conducted an opinion poll of voters to find out how common the sentiment that Couric was worried about turns out to be. It found that a large majority (64% v 32%) does not agree that a Presidential candidate's marital infidelity should be a disqualification for the office. It also turned out that almost the same percentage of the candidates she interviewed as in the population at large, four out of the ten--Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Mike Huckabee, John Edwards--held the minority position.

There were two who had no opinion on whether voters are right to see cheating as a bar to office--Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson both left it up to each individual to decide--and four who rejected the idea. John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama each pointed out that past Presidents have led the United States with integrity even though their marriages happened to be on shaky ground.

Rudolph Giuliani cited his religious views instead of history: "I have a more generous view of human beings and a more generous view of life. I think it comes from growing up as a Catholic. I mean we are all sinners. We are all struggling. We are all trying hard. We ask for forgiveness and then we try to improve ourselves again."


POLLSTERS In the campaign horse race all three networks published their latest polling data. ABC News surveyed Iowa--finding Huckabee and Obama in the lead--but did not assign a reporter to flesh out the details. CBS News was in South Carolina, a state where the same two were found in front. Bill Whitaker credited evangelical Christians, no surprise, with supplying Huckabee's lead and African-American women with Obama's. NBC News conducted a national poll and Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert offered two toplines: Giuliani's support is in a "dramatic over-the-cliff" decline and Obama is ahead of Rodham Clinton in match-ups for the General Election. The two are even among Democrats but he is more popular than her among independents.


FACT CHECK This NBC led with the fire next to the White House: "The ornate C19th Executive Office Building is one of the largest stone structures in the world and houses most White House offices," John Yang asserted in a claim that is crying out for a factcheck. The blaze centered on the ceremonial offices of the Vice President, an area that does not have a sprinkler system. Yang was told that "everything in it is covered by a thick layer of soot, including the desk, which has been used by six Presidents, including Dwight Eisenhower." ABC's Jonathan Karl called the office "one of Washington's treasures" and offered the tidbit that the desk's central drawer features "the hand-carved signatures" of Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.


HUBBUB AT THE HUB All three networks had a reporter cover the reduction in maximum airline flight volumes at Kennedy Airport. "Because 75% of all delayed flights originate in New York, if you ease the congestion there you make things better across the country," CBS' Bill Plante explained. Such ceilings are already in place at La Guardia Airport; Newark Liberty is expected to follow Kennedy. Airlines had wanted to schedule 108 hourly flights into and out of JFK during peak periods, NBC's Tom Costello reported. The new limit, starting in March, will be 83. "The new restrictions do not mean fewer flights per day," ABC's David Muir (no link) pointed out. "They are simply being spread out, before and after peak hours."


GANG RAPE AND GIFT PACKAGES There were two items--one feelgood, the other scandalous--arising from Iraq, although no report was filed with a Baghdad dateline. The scandal was exposed at hearings on Capitol Hill into Kellogg Brown Root, the Green Zone contractor. Time was that the networks newscasts were scrupulous at preserving the anonymity and obscuring the visual identity of any woman who had been raped. Times have changed. Both ABC's Brian Ross and NBC's Kelly O'Donnell gave full play to the open testimony of 23-year-old Jamie Leigh Jones.

Jones recounted working for Halliburton as a computer technician with its KBR subsidiary two years ago when she was drugged and gang-raped by colleagues. "Halliburton KBR held her under armed guard in a shipping container," said ABC's Ross, quoting Jones, "and told her she would be fired if she tried to make a big deal out of it." Now the Justice Department claims it has no jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed inside Iraq by Pentagon contractors' employees, NBC's O'Donnell pointed out. "Jones is trying to hold KBR responsible with a civil lawsuit claiming sexual harassment. The company says the case is without merit."

The feelgood Iraq story came from the village of Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad in the so-called Triangle of Death, where ABC's Bob Woodruff showed us Col Jack Pflaumer handing out "candy, clothing and school supplies" to local children. He gets the gifts--"over 10,000 lbs of clothing, toys, baby formula and more"--from the grand-sounding Pennsylvania-based Operation Build Iraqi Hope. It turns out that the operation is run by the colonel's wife Lisa, out of a home that has begun "to resemble a warehouse."


MONKEY SEE Back in March, Mike Lee's story about baboons invading homes in Cape Town was a favorite on ABC. Now Ian Williams for NBC counters with the monkeys of Delhi. They loll around the city's parks and clamber into its buildings. Recently they broke into the India's Department of Defense and scattered secret documents. The primate infestation had a macabre twist when the city's deputy mayor "plunged to his death while trying to fend off monkeys on his terrace." The monkeys cannot be killed "since Hindus worship the monkey god Hanuman a symbol of strength." So the solution is to pit monkey against monkey: "Rattled middle class neighborhoods have deployed lanky aggressive monkeys called langours to patrol…they are natural enemies of those causing the mayhem."


WILD TREES, KIDDIE KANDIDS, FLOATING CROSSES It would be unthinkable for each of the newscasts not to round out its content with seasonal fare. Both CBS and ABC covered the happy ending for the Dominguez family near Paradise in California's Sierra Nevada. Father Frederick, sons Christopher, 18, and Joshua, 12, and daughter Alexis, 15, set off in a pick-up truck into the mountains after church on Sunday to find a wild Christmas tree. "Lost and stuck in a blizzard the four took shelter in a drainage pipe under the road," narrated ABC's Brian Rooney, and waited to be rescued. A helicopter found the letters HELP spelled out with wood in the snow after "a harrowing three nights spent lost in a snowy, icy forest," as CBS' Sandra Hughes put it. They were six miles away from where their truck was parked.

CBS' closer sent Anthony Mason to a Kiddie Kandids booth in the New Jersey suburbs where child photographer Alex Brock takes those pictures of sweet ones that end up on a family's holiday cards. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas the firm takes 2.5m snaps nationwide. "It is a job that requires the patience of Job," Mason demonstrated. He asked Brock for a trick of the trade: "I cross my eyes a lot. That makes kids happy."

NBC's Christmas special consisted of Andrea Mitchell's survey of the Presidential candidates' ads. "Most of the campaigns have decided that attack ads do not work while people are wrapping presents and watching It's a Wonderful Life." Most campaigns, that is, except for Mitt Romney's, who blasts Mike Huckabee for extending forgiveness to too many felons. Mitchell showed us the cute nuclear family of Barack Obama; John Edwards hoping for miracles for the poor; Hillary Rodham Clinton's joking about campaign promises as wrapped presents--and she showed the strange floating white cross moving above Mike Huckabee's right shoulder, which turned out to be, not a religious symbol for his Christian supporters, but a bookcase.


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: federal energy legislation was signed into law by President George Bush…the Alternative Minimum Tax has been suspended for one year for middle class households…a loophole in the federal background check for the purchase of handguns has been closed to prevent sales to the mentally ill…a chemical plant exploded near Jacksonville in Florida, killing four…an English speedboat, Earth Race, plans a circumnavigation voyage powered by fuel made out of human fat removed from the crew by liposuction.