Blizzard conditions stretching from Chicago to Cleveland were the Story of the Day. Both CBS and NBC led their newscasts from a windswept Illinois. ABC anchored its newscast from Illinois too, with Charles Gibson taking us behind the scenes at Chicago O'Hare Airport, but ABC did not lead with winter weather. It chose the latest twist in Iraqi politics instead.    
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video thumbnailCBSWinter weatherHigh winds cause blizzard conditions in midwestCynthia BowersChicago
video thumbnailNBCIran military expansion feared in Persian GulfJCS Chairman Pace skeptical about Iraq chargesAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCNorth Korea develops nuclear weapons programUS offers to end sanctions to secure freezeMark MullenBeijing
video thumbnailCBSNorth Korea develops nuclear weapons programUS offers to end sanctions to secure freezeBarry PetersenTokyo
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesHouse debate over opposition to troop build-upJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABC
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2008 Mitt Romney announces candidacyFormer governor, Olympic organizer, MormonKate SnowMichigan
video thumbnailNBC2008 Mitt Romney announces candidacyFormer governor, Olympic organizer, MormonCampbell BrownNew York
video thumbnailCBS2008 Mitt Romney announces candidacyFormer governor, Olympic organizer, MormonGloria BorgerWashington DC
video thumbnailABCSalt Lake City shopping mall shooting leaves six deadBosnian refugee gunman killed by off-duty copBrian RooneySalt Lake City
video thumbnailNBCElderly living alone need to preserve independenceDepend on kindness of kin, neighbors, friendsTim RussertNew York State
SNOW-&-WINDY CITY Blizzard conditions stretching from Chicago to Cleveland were the Story of the Day. Both CBS and NBC led their newscasts from a windswept Illinois. ABC anchored its newscast from Illinois too, with Charles Gibson taking us behind the scenes at Chicago O'Hare Airport, but ABC did not lead with winter weather. It chose the latest twist in Iraqi politics instead.

"This powerful slippery mix has enveloped much of the country in a blanket of misery," complained ABC's Barbara Pinto from Chicago amid 40 mph wind gusts. CBS' Cynthia Bowers was there too: "Old Man Winter socked us sideways knocking pedestrians in Chicago's Loop for a loop." NBC's Janet Shamlian was in Bloomington Ill, where all commerce stopped except for the local florist, who had to make 100 more deliveries before St Valentine's Day.

The storm did not shut down O'Hare, so Gibson's (subscription required) feature concentrated on the hub's smooth operation and the ground crews who make that happen--one million flights each year carrying 75m passengers in all. "There is so much going on at the depot that one might be excused if he, or she, thought this is the city."

TEHERAN CONFIDENTIAL ABC's lead concerned Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric. Martha Raddatz reported that al-Sadr has fled Baghdad for Iran, according to her unidentified military sources. She offered two likely explanations: either he expected he would "get a JDAM dropped on his house" because of his anti-US militancy; or he faced a rift inside his Mahdi Army militia for refusing to be militant enough. Neither of the other two networks assigned a reporter to the al-Sadr story, although NBC's Andrea Mitchell followed up on her coverage yesterday of skepticism about the Pentagon's accusations against Iran for interference in Iraq. Even Chairman Peter Pace of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has "serious doubts" about Teheran's official role. Mitchell called his comments "surprising." Pace speculated that the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard might be operating in Iraq independently.

NOT NO NUKES YET Yesterday ABC led with North Korean nuclear diplomacy, with Raddatz offering a fuller report than the other two networks. Now CBS and NBC caught up. NBC assigned the story to Mark Mullen in Beijing, where the six-nation talks were held. He contrasted the agreement--offering oil, electricity, aid, an end to economic sanctions and possible formal diplomatic relations with the US--with the President's Axis of Evil speech. The euphemism he used for the State Department's "entirely new approach" was a shift to "compassion instead of contempt."

Mused Mullen: "Did America give away the store?" From Tokyo, CBS' Barry Petersen seemed to answer in the affirmative. He listed the loopholes in the agreement: no halt to North Korea's uranium enrichment program; no search for hidden weapons sites; no dismantlement of already-produced nuclear weapons; no discovery of its current "stash of plutonium." The agreement called for no more than a shutdown and inspection of its operating plutonium reactor.

CBS' Jim Axelrod commented: "No one is popping any champagne corks" at the White House. ABC mentioned the terms of the deal only in passing.

NON-BINDING The Iraq story inside-the-Beltway was the start of the debate in the House of Representatives over a 97-word resolution to disapprove of President George Bush's ongoing build-up of troops in Baghdad. All three networks assigned a correspondent to Capitol Hill to string together members' soundbites. ABC's Jake Tapper called the debate "passionate." He saw Democrats "trying to seem strong on military issues" by front-loading their speakers with veterans of wars in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. With overwhelming Democratic support, passage is assured and so CBS' Sharyl Attkisson noted that "the only real question is how many Republicans will vote for it." NBC's Chip Reid's best answer was a headcount of "perhaps dozens."

LATTER DAY The other big political story concerned Mitt Romney, Salt Lake City Olympics organizer and former Governor of Massachusetts. Romney was in Michigan, where his father was once governor, to announce his candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination. Only ABC sent a correspondent to attend his announcement speech, made in Dearborn "to emphasize his traditional midwestern values," as Kate Snow (subscription required) put it. She heard a "subtle dig" at each of his main rivals--John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama--as "someone who has never run a corner store."

NBC's Campbell Brown filed an In Depth report from New York, noting the self-styled true social conservative's "chiseled good looks." She played clips from his losing 1994 Senate campaign in Massachusetts supporting abortion rights and opposing anti-homosexual discrimination. Brown then played this soundbite from Romney's campaign Website: "I was wrong on some issues back then. I am not embarrassed to admit that."

CBS' Gloria Borger summarized Romney's "impressive" political resume from Washington DC before speculating that "there is a personal matter that could dog his campaign--his membership in the Mormon Church." She called the its image "shrouded in secrecy and stereotype" citing the legacy of polygamy, a sentiment that perhaps reported on that stereotype, or perhaps perpetuated it.

MALL MARAUDER There was one other story that warranted attention from reporters at all three networks--the shooting spree at the Trolley Square shopping mall in downtown Salt Lake City. The murders were an aberration, noted NBC's Michael Okwu, since crime in the Utah city is at a 14-year low. An off-duty police officer confronted and killed the shotgun-pumping shooter, an 18-year-old Bosnian refugee, but only after five other people had already been killed in the six-minute rampage. CBS did not send a reporter to the scene so Sandra Hughes narrated footage of the carnage from Los Angeles, adding the colorful detail that the shooter was "dressed Columbine-style in a trenchcoat."

ABC's Brian Rooney tried to generalize from the incident by examining shopping mall security nationwide. He described the "vulnerability" of malls as "wide open to a rampaging gunman or to a planned terrorist attack." Improving security with metal detectors, armed guards, bag searches and dog patrols, as suggested by a recent RAND study, would be "very expensive and probably aggravating to customers."

LONELY VOICE Yesterday, when Brian Williams profiled his eightysomething father for NBC's Trading Places series, we objected to the entanglement of human interest, marketing and journalism. To hear Williams' follow-up, the Tyndall Report's complaints represented a lonely voice. "We seemed to have found a topic that touched a nerve," was how Williams described viewers' enthusiastic response to the up-close-and-personal look at their anchor. The next Trading Places was by NBC's DC bureau chief Tim Russert. Since he had already made a book business out of making his father a public figure, Russert's video follow-up about the widower independently living alone seemed like less of an intrusion. We saw Big Russ visited by his daughter, fed by his neighbor--"you have to feed the soul and brain"--and drinking with his friends at south Buffalo's Blackthorn Club. Guinness is apparently good for one's constitution.

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 tornado in New Orleans set back post-Katrina rebuilding efforts…Rep Charles Norwood (R-GA) dies, aged 65…the former third-ranked official in the CIA was indicted for graft…Neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor Lewis Libby himself will testify at the latter's perjury trial.