After yesterday's alarm bells, the reassuring fact that nothing much happened on Wall Street qualified as headline news. Stable trading on the stock exchanges--the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained less than one half of one percent--was the Story of the Day. CBS made stocks its lead and gave them the full treatment. NBC filed a brief stand-up to lead off before turning to the wider economy. ABC chose the war in Afghanistan as its lead instead.    
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video thumbnailCBSNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesStocks stabilize after single day's downturnAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailNBCNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesStocks stabilize after single day's downturnMaria BartiromoNew York
video thumbnailABCNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesPsychology explains routine investors' errorsRobert KrulwichNew York
video thumbnailCBSHomelessness: shelters offer temporary reliefMany evicted families with children need helpCynthia BowersChicago
video thumbnailNBCHealthcare reform: universal and managed careLack of dental coverage leads to Md boy's deathJohn YangMaryland
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingPropaganda video shows teenage suicide bomberBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailABCHighway safety: teenage drivers dangersInsurance fits drivecam monitors, reduces risksLisa StarkWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSICE border controls along Mexico lineRio Grande detention stops clandestine entriesKelly CobiellaTexas
video thumbnailNBCMedical treatments for children in warzonesMaimed Iraqi girl treated by military medicsRobert BazellBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCOlympic skier Toby Dawson finds birth fatherAdoptee makes DNA match in native South KoreaJohn LarsonLos Angeles
STOCKS STABILIZE After yesterday's alarm bells, the reassuring fact that nothing much happened on Wall Street qualified as headline news. Stable trading on the stock exchanges--the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained less than one half of one percent--was the Story of the Day. CBS made stocks its lead and gave them the full treatment. NBC filed a brief stand-up to lead off before turning to the wider economy. ABC chose the war in Afghanistan as its lead instead.

CBS' Anthony Mason heard a "deep sigh of relief" on Wall Street, "hardly a blistering rebound but it stopped the bleeding--at least for now…Bottom line, the market may not be out of the woods yet. Corrections usually take weeks or months, not days or hours." For perspective, ABC's Betsy Stark (subscription required) offered some definitions: a 20% decline in prices is a "crash"; 10% is a "correction"; yesterday's was 3%.. CNBC's Maria Bartiromo offered a brief summary from near the floor of the NYSE, crediting the "comforting words" of Chairman Benjamin Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Board for the return of stability.

Both ABC and CBS followed up with features on the retail investor. CBS' Byron Pitts took a traditional route, sampling the vox pop in Summit NJ. A dentist told him that he was not nervous about the stock market: he is "much more worried about the planet and the human race." ABC's Robert Krulwich (subscription required) offered his usual offbeat style, complete with funny voices and cartoon drawings, to explain the psychological reason why most human beings fail to cut their losses in the stock market: "Emotionally it is hard to sell a losing stock" so we end up with "a portfolio lopsided with losers."

THE LACK OF WEALTH EFFECT Away from the heady turmoil of the financial markets, CNBC's Carl Quintanilla (at the tail of the Bartiromo videostream) examined whether the underlying economy is in trouble. When the Commerce Department revised its estimate of the growth of the Gross Domestic Product downwards, Quintanilla called real estate the "main culprit." He outlined the "nightmare scenario--home values plummet; more Americans default on their mortgages; and stop spending."

Both NBC and CBS balanced their coverage of wealth with those at the very bottom of the income scale. The federal Housing Department published an estimate that 754,000 people are homeless nationwide. CBS Cynthia Bowers visited a shelter in Chicago to flesh out the plight of homeless children. NBC's John Yang dramatized gaps in the Medicaid system with the gruesome tale of a twelve-year-old Maryland boy who did not have a dentist. A toothache turned to abscesses that turned to a brain infection that killed him. Yang noted that even more employers fail to offer workers dental coverage than fail to offer regular healthcare. "This tragedy might have been prevented if a dentist had pulled his bad teeth."

TEENAGER IN A TOYOTA Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan are using more and more suicide bombs, noted NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, with a fivefold incidence in a single year. His unidentified sources in the military brass warned: "The upcoming spring offensive by the Taliban will be a critical battle for the future of Afghanistan and produce the bloodiest fighting since the US invasion."

Both Miklaszewski and ABC's Brian Ross replayed the same propaganda video from last October. It followed a teenage Taliban warrior building his plastique bomb, driving off to his death in his beat-up white Toyota sub-compact and then exploding in a fireball in the middle of a US military convoy.

It was without irony that ABC, later in the newscast, had Lisa Stark file a report on how dangerous the insurance industry finds teenage drivers to be--so dangerous that she gave American Family Insurance free publicity for its program to install drivecam monitors on the rear view mirrors of rookie motorists.

SUMMIT SCHEDULING Considering what a transformation next month's Neighbors Summit in Baghdad potentially represents for the conflict in Iraq, its diplomatic planning is receiving cursory coverage. ABC did not mention it. CBS' Jim Axelrod briefly outlined the schedule from the White House. NBC offered a videophone stand-up from Teheran. Ian Williams said Iran has accepted Iraq's invitation "very cautiously…they want to avoid this summit turning into a session of fingerpointing" about Iran's alleged arming of Shiite militias. Axelrod wondered how much Iraqi appetite there is anyway to "take on the tough stuff--like Iranian explosives targeting US troops."

EAGLE PASS Since CBS is the network that airs David Letterman's Late Show, it was the only newscast to mention in passing the John McCain had confirmed to Letterman that, yes, he certainly is running for President. Anchor Katie Couric noted that McCain is working on a Senate bill to change immigration laws before introducing Kelly Cobiella's report on some changes along the Mexican border, even without new legislation.

The Border Patrol in Eagle Pass has access to ample jail capacity. Thus, unlike other border zones, immigrants entering Texas clandestinely along this stretch are detained rather than released. Even a six-month jail term makes visaless Mexicans feel "treated like a criminal" so they no longer cross there. As a result, the Border Patrol now expends more resources on narcotics violations than on immigration violations. A border rancher took the long view as he gazed over the Rio Grande. While he is delighted his land is no longer used for transit, "we are sitting next to a country that is overpopulated, underemployed, with a corrupt government. You cannot blame a one of them for leaving that situation."

HEROIC MEDICINE All three networks continued their medical features series. CBS' Matters of the Heart is not war related. The network assigned Sanjay Gupta, visiting from CNN, to examine a heart valve problem that is a common birth defect. Microsurgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston can now repair the grape-sized fetal heart while it is still in the womb. Such surgery does not even leave a scar.

ABC and NBC continued to focus on wartime medicine. In his first World News feature since his brains were almost blown out, ABC's Bob Woodruff took A Closer Look at the convalescence of Jeff Landay, a Marine corporal, who shared his wounds--but not his rehab treatment. "Medical complications and disputes with the VA have left Jeff without any therapy in the last six months."

In Baghdad, NBC's Wounds of War series turned to civilian casualties. Robert Bazell told us that very few are lucky enough to be treated by Americans. He showed us the exception, a legless five-year-old girl, maimed by a random mortar shell and cared for by military medics. A Pentagon contractor who made a fortune building US bases in Iraq paid to fly the girl to a Sacramento hospital for rehabilitation. Her mother must remain anonymous because she would be assassinated if it were known she sought help from the United States. The girl would have ended up a cripple if she had attended an Iraqi hospital.

CLOSURE The feelgood story of the day concerned Toby Dawson, Olympic freestyle skiing bronze medalist, who had been separated from his parents in South Korea as a toddler and adopted in California. When he won his medal his traumatic childhood was publicized: "His mother lost him in a market when he was three years old," recounted NBC's John Larson. Finally DNA tests have identified his biological father and the pair was reunited in Seoul. NBC, appropriately, chose the closing slot of the newscast for Larson's human interest tale. ABC, oddly, decided that David Muir's (subscription required) take on the story belonged in the hard-news portion of the newscast at number three in its rundown. Muir quoted Dawson recognizing his own facial features in his father: "I can see where these sideburns have come from!"

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 mentioned, John McCain is definitely running for President…yet another market in Baghdad has been carbombed…new AIDS medication has been developed to supplement protease inhibitors.