CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 05, 2007
A very slow news day saw no unanimity among the networks as to what should make headlines. So CBS and NBC both opted for unshared military-minded Exclusive scoops: NBC on the Pentagon's plans to put 12,000 National Guardsmen on alert for call-up to active duty; CBS on NATO's spring offensive against Taliban guerrillas in central Afghanistan. There was only one story that warranted coverage by a reporter on all three newscasts. Federal regulators gave a publicity boost to the New York International Automobile Show by picking it as the site to announce new car safety rules. The mandate for Electronic Stability Controls was ABC's lead and the Story of the Day.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR APRIL 05, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABC
sub req
Auto safety: rollover accident preventionNHTSA orders stability controls in new carsDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailABCAutomobile research into smart-car technologyActive safety measures deploy sensors, alarmsLisa StarkVirginia
video thumbnailNBCAutomobile industry in financial troubleBillionaire Kirk Kerkorian seeks to buy ChryslerPhilip LeBeauNew York
video thumbnailABCCorporate CEOs receive lavish remunerationFord Motors paid $28m package despite lossesBarbara PintoChicago
video thumbnailNBCIran military expansion feared in Persian GulfBritish sailors return home, behavior examinedJim MacedaLondon
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingNATO offensive in central Sangin ValleyLara LoganAfghanistan
video thumbnailNBCMilitary reserves, National Guard call-up extendedPentagon puts 12,000 citizen soldiers on alertJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUSArmy rural patrol targeted by IED ambushMike TaibbiIraq
video thumbnailCBSPrisons: Florida emancipates released former felonsEx-cons may vote, earn professional licensesKelly CobiellaMiami
video thumbnailCBSGolf equipment improved by high-technologyRocket science used to test gear in ScotlandMark PhillipsScotland
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
ROLLOVERS, SKIDS & CRASHES A very slow news day saw no unanimity among the networks as to what should make headlines. So CBS and NBC both opted for unshared military-minded Exclusive scoops: NBC on the Pentagon's plans to put 12,000 National Guardsmen on alert for call-up to active duty; CBS on NATO's spring offensive against Taliban guerrillas in central Afghanistan. There was only one story that warranted coverage by a reporter on all three newscasts. Federal regulators gave a publicity boost to the New York International Automobile Show by picking it as the site to announce new car safety rules. The mandate for Electronic Stability Controls was ABC's lead and the Story of the Day.

The ECS system is a "step-up" from anti-lock brake technology, as CBS' Nancy Cordes put it, applying stopping power to each wheel individually. This prevents rollover crashes and out-of-control skids, which kill between 5,000 and 10,000 people nationwide each year. But as a news development, the ESC regulations were quite trivial. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require ESC to be installed in all new cars five years from now, in 2012. This is no big deal since automakers voluntarily install ESC in almost all Sports Utility Vehicles already and the system adds only an extra $115 or so to the cost of manufacturing a vehicle. "American and Korean manufacturers have lagged behind the Germans and the Japanese," CBS' Cordes added.

So why make it headline news? The only plausible explanation is that it provided the opportunity to edit clips of crash footage into soundbites from the regulators. NBC's Bob Faw showed an SUV plummet down a snow-covered embankment. ABC's David Muir (subscription required) showed an SUV somersault across a highway. All three networks showed out-of-control skids knock over traffic cones on test tracks.


SMART CARS The subject of automobiles inspired follow-ups at both ABC and NBC. ABC's Lisa Stark stuck to the theme of accident prevention for A Closer Look. She introduced us to the concept of "active safety"--using sensor and alarm technology to avoid situations where accidents are likely to happen. Researchers are developing gadgets to be embedded in roads, to measure oncoming traffic during left turns, to monitor drifting out of lanes, to check blind spots, and to have the vehicle in front warn when it is about to brake to forestall rear-enders.

NBC had Philip LeBeau from its sibling business channel CNBC investigate the fate of Chrysler Motors, now Daimler wants to spin the division off. Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian has made the offer to take it off the Germans' hands for $4.5bn, as long as union workers become his partners. Kerkorian had unsuccessfully sued to block Daimler's takeover in the first place in the late '90s. On ABC, Barbara Pinto looked at the announcement by Ford Motors, a company that posted $13bn in losses in 2006, that it paid out $28m to hire its new boss, Alan Mulally, away from Boeing. Ford management called the deal "consistent with that of other large companies." Meanwhile, Pinto pointed out, "most rank-and-file employees got $500 bonuses."


GUNSHIP DIPLOMACY From London, both NBC and ABC followed up on the return home of the British sailors who had been taken captive by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. NBC's Jim Maceda played a soundbite from a Royal Navy captain to Sky News before the search party was arrested admitting that the ships were in the Persian Gulf to gain intelligence on "Iranian activity in the area." Now that they are safely home, ABC's Jim Sciutto heard the British government trade "its soft tone for harsh rhetoric." Prime Minister Tony Blair accused "elements" of the Teheran regime of "backing, financing, arming, supporting terrorism in Iraq."


POPPY FIELDS CBS' lead story was from the Helmand province of Afghanistan. Lara Logan filed from the opium poppy fields of the Sangin Valley where British troops are leading a NATO offensive against Taliban guerrillas, "a resilient enemy…where the terrain is rugged and difficult." An English major described the fighting as "chasing ghosts." Afghanistan is in danger of becoming "a failed state, much like it was when Osama bin Laden used it as his base of operations," CBS' David Martin was warned by Harlan Ullman, an inside-the-Beltway advisor to NATO. Ullman predicted that fighting there will drag on for another ten years, not just against the Taliban, but with opium traders and corrupt members of the government. "A war with no end in sight," Martin called it.


SITTING DUCKS NBC's lead was from the Pentagon as Jim Miklaszewski predicted that four National Guard brigades would be mobilized involuntarily for a yearlong deployment to Iraq in early 2008: "The war has stretched the regular army to the breaking point." NBC's in-house retired general Barry McCaffrey was not surprised by the looming call-up. It could have been announced last year but was "concealed" until after the midterm elections. McCaffrey expects five more brigades to be called up after the first four are deployed.

From Iraq itself, NBC's Mike Taibbi filed an update in his On The Line series, which has him embedded with a unit of the USArmy's Third Infantry Division. Taibbi told the story of a raid on a farmhouse south of Baghdad where three locals were arrested on suspicion of making roadside bombs. Taibbi showed us a vivid close-up of the "uncontrolable anguish" of the mother of one of the suspects, wailing and weeping and pleading, while her son was blindfolded, handcuffed and driven away. The arrest took long enough that guerrillas were able to plant mines along the farm's dirt track so that when the troops drove back they were ambushed. A 37-ton Bradley fighting vehicle was incapacitated and the unit was trapped in the open--"we are expletive sitting ducks," one soldier cursed--until help arrived. Taibbi found it unnerving: "We had to spend a long tense night in al-Qaeda country, easy targets for mortars and long-range snipers." He summed up the episode as "a near-disaster, netting a few marginal suspects, and little else…infused by sadness and deep frustrations."


LAST VESTIGE A decision by Gov Charlie Crist, a Republican, may make the difference in turning his swing state Democratic in the next Presidential election, CBS' Kelly Cobiella speculated. Crist repealed Clemency Board rules, a vestige of racist Jim Crow voting laws, that disenfranchised almost one million Floridians. The 139-year-old ban permanently deprived former inmates of the state prison system of the right to vote, even if they had served their time in full, even if they had paid restitution. Now most former felons can cast a ballot and apply for professional licenses for careers such as medicine or law. "It is a matter of fundamental fairness and doing what is right," declared Crist. Cobiella consulted a Florida State University political scientist who told her that ex-cons represent an 80,000 net gain in Democratic turnout.


AMEN CORNER As the Masters Tournament opened in Augusta, both CBS and ABC closed their newscast with a golf feature. ABC's Steve Osunsami (no link) reminded us that it is now ten years since Tiger Woods' first breakthrough win--which turns out to have been not so much of breakthrough after all for other golfers of color. The complexion of the professional circuit is now even whiter than it was when Woods first arrived. Why had he not been an inspiration for African-Americans? Osunsami suggested it was because Woods himself does not think of himself as black. "Caublanasian," was how he described his race on TV's Oprah.

CBS' Mark Phillips visited St Andrew's, the home of golf, where rocket scientist Steve Otto has a headless robot test flight patterns for new brands of balls and new designs of clubs. Actor Bill Murray happened to be playing in Scotland. Phillips called Murray a "golfing rebel," using a clip from Caddyshack of Murray blasting the blooms off flowers. What did he think of the new hi-tech gear? "We need psychological help more than technological help," Murray sneered. "I can hit the ball a mile. I am an athlete, gifted. I hit it a long ways but it does not mean I score. You have got to be able to hit the putt!"


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 late winter snowstorm caused a state of emergency in Maine…an FBI agent was killed while investigating a New Jersey bank robbery…the Census Bureau issued new urban data showing that Atlanta is the nation's fastest-growing city.