CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 25, 2007
The political dispute inside-the-Beltway over the war in Iraq was the Story of the Day--even though none of the networks led it. The House of Representatives prepared to vote to continue funding for the war in Iraq. The bill includes a plan to end United States involvement in the fighting by April 2008. President George Bush has guaranteed he will veto the funds with those strings attached. So the day's developments represent merely an incremental step in a drawn-out power struggle. NBC led with a related story--its own opinion poll on Iraq and other matters. CBS led with a crime story: an arrest in an extortion plot against brokerage houses. ABC led with the stock market itself.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR APRIL 25, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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NYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesDJIA exceeds 13,000 after six-months rapid riseBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailCBSNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesDJIA exceeds 13,000 after six-months rapid riseAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailCBSPipebomb extortion threats sent to brokerage housesIowa suspect arrested as self-styled BishopBob OrrIowa
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesHouse to vote on funding with troops-out dateChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesImpact of US troop build-up on violence assessedDavid MartinPentagon
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2008 John McCain campaignFormally announces, no longer GOP frontrunnerJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCCongressional Democrats persist with fundraisingLavish events for lobbyists mimic RepublicansBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailNBCPharmaceuticals industry gives gifts to doctorsDo samples help patients or cloud judgment?Robert BazellNew York
video thumbnailNBCExtraterrestrial planet identified, may sustain lifeHas Earthlike temperatures, 20 light years awayBob FawWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCHip-hop music popularity declinesRadio stations urged to bleep offensive wordsRehema EllisNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
BULLISH The political dispute inside-the-Beltway over the war in Iraq was the Story of the Day--even though none of the networks led it. The House of Representatives prepared to vote to continue funding for the war in Iraq. The bill includes a plan to end United States involvement in the fighting by April 2008. President George Bush has guaranteed he will veto the funds with those strings attached. So the day's developments represent merely an incremental step in a drawn-out power struggle. NBC led with a related story--its own opinion poll on Iraq and other matters. CBS led with a crime story: an arrest in an extortion plot against brokerage houses. ABC led with the stock market itself.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through another round number. The index surpassed 13,000 less than seven months after crossing 12,000, as major corporations made ever greater profits. The previous 1,000 points had taken seven years, CBS' Anthony Mason pointed out. ABC's Betsy Stark (subscription required) speculated that "investors seemed willing to look past some not-so-good news" about real estate foreclosures and rising gasoline prices. After four years of rising stock prices "this bull is long of tooth," she warned and "overdue" for a correction with a 10% loss in value.

CNBC's Erin Burnett argued that the bull market represents encouraging news for the economy at large: it means that foreign capital is eager to invest in domestic corporations; it shows that the financial markets are not worried about a spreading real estate slump; and it reveals optimism that consumer spending will not sag. "We could have more records in store."


BISHOP DEFROCKED A pair of individual stocks was the key to finding a suspect in the case of the self-styled Bishop. The Bishop had demanded that the price of the stocks in Navarre Corporation and 3Com be manipulated, on pain of death. He sent nearly complete pipebombs to brokerage firms in Chicago and Kansas--"just a single wire was left unconnected," according to NBC's Pete Williams--along with a threatening note. The suspect, John Tomkins of Dubuque Iowa, owned "thousands of dollars worth of risky options in those same two companies," investigators told CBS' Bob Orr. They believe "the reign of the Bishop is over."

Yet the prices were never distorted and the threats were never carried out--so it does not seem that the Bishop's so-called "reign" was much of a story. Nevertheless CBS found it fascinating enough to make the arrest its lead and NBC obtained a photograph. ABC did not mention it even in passing. ABC made the sound judgment.


ANY WAY YOU SPELL IT ABC also decided to mention the Iraq funding dispute only in passing while CBS and NBC both assigned their Capitol Hill correspondents to the House debate. NBC's Chip Reid characterized the Democratic proposal as "a dramatic change of course in Iraq" even though its defeat via veto is inevitable. Reid explained the Democratic thinking: "All they can do is keep putting pressure on the President with votes like this one in the hope that eventually he will change course." And CBS' Sharyl Attkisson quoted Speaker Nancy Pelosi as pledging that "this is only the beginning of the fight to hold the President more accountable for the war."

When Gen David Petraeus briefed legislators in the Capitol his headline claim was that the US troop reinforcement in Baghdad, the so-called surge, has accomplished a dramatic reduction in the level of sectarian killings. NBC's Reid called it a "mostly positive assessment." At the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin found the claim true but incomplete. At the same time as sectarian violence is calming down, fighting is escalating in Diyala province; US military deaths are 50% higher than this time last year; and carbombings have increased. Martin added that the "lynchpin" of Petraeus' entire plan is the willingness of Sunni and Shiite leaders to reach a political accommodation: "That ain't happening. And I don't see it happening any time soon," Martin's anonymous official source told him.

NBC kicked off Tim Russert's report on its latest poll with the nation's "jolting" pessimistic mood--22% wrong track, 66% right track--and the simple explanation for it: "Four letters I-R-A-K, er A-Q." The poll measured 49% of the population finding the situation worse now than three months ago, 55% think victory is impossible, 56% support the Democrats' call for a deadline to withdraw combat troops.


CAMPAIGN TRAIL The NBC poll also ranked the Presidential candidates of each party and found the two New Yorkers in the lead, Hillary Rodham Clinton (36% to Barack Obama's 31%) and Rudolph Giuliani (33% to John McCain's 22%). Russert noted that Giuliani is campaigning on the general War on Terrorism instead of one particular war: "He allows McCain to deal with Iraq."

Only ABC assigned a correspondent to cover McCain's formal announcement of his candidacy. Jake Tapper (subscription required) noted that the former USNavy pilot's campaign is no longer "on an even keel." McCain's support for the war in Iraq has cost him support among the media, Tapper asserted, "a group that helped him in his race seven years ago." The only evidence Tapper presented of media animus towards McCain was the boos of the audience when he visited Comedy Central's The Daily Show so that argument seems like a stretch. The spin from the McCain campaign is that he performs better as the underdog rather than the frontrunner. "He may no longer have a choice," Tapper mused.

On the Democratic side, ABC revived its campaign finance series dubbed The Money Trail. Brian Ross observed that the change in control in Congress had made no difference to fundraising techniques nor to the willingness of lobbyists to pony up. Speaker Pelosi threw a $10K-per-plate dinner "in the kind of scene only a few months ago she labeled corrupt." And top taxwriters Rep Charles Rangell and Sen Max Baucus charged Wall Street financiers $9K per plate at a "swanky" New York dinner in February. Ross checked the year-to-date Congressional fundraising totals: Democrats $32m vs Republicans $23m. "Everything they are doing is legal under the current law. The Democrats are enjoying the privilege of power."


MEDICINE MEN Only ABC covered a plan by Democratic leaders Rep John Dingell and Sen Edward Kennedy to provide universal healthcare coverage. ABC's in-house physician Timothy Johnson (no link) outlined the proposal to extend either Medicare or the federal workers' healthcare program to the entire population. Johnson praised the latter as "politically brilliant" because opponents would have to vote against coverage for others that they themselves enjoy. As for winners and losers, Johnson envisioned big savings--costs declining from 13% of payroll to 7%--for employers who already offer healthcare and increased taxes--from 0% of payroll to 7%--for those who provide none.

NBC's Robert Bazell looked at the army of sales representatives deployed by Big Pharma. Some physicians get as many as ten visits each day, with the sales force usually bringing free prescription drug samples, often bearing gifts such as free meals. Bazell weighed the ethics, but not the economics, of these marketing efforts: the free samples do help uninsured patients get medication; they also act as a starter kit that can lead to lifetime use. Bazell cited a new survey that found that only 6% of physicians keep the reps at arm's length. He did not address the extent to which this massive sales effort inflates prescription drug prices.


GOLDILOCKS Both CBS and NBC chose Gliese 581 for their closing feature. That is the name of a planet 20 light years away--that is 120tr miles--that has Earthlike temperatures, not too hot, not too cold. Such a climate would allow water to exist and therefore, possibly, life. Both networks flavored science with cute. NBC's Bob Faw aired vox pop from Adler Planetarium in Chicago. What could extraterrestrial life look like? "They would have four arms, twelve legs and a million eyes," a girl giggled. CBS' Sandra Hughes went to Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory. "Maybe they wear like really big fat clothes, big baggy suits," another girl suggested. Hughes started with that predictable clip from Star Trek and signed off: "Scotty! Can you beam me up?"


EXPLETIVE DELETED The reverberations of the Don Imus affair continue. On Monday, CBS had Bill Whitaker examine the waning appeal of hip-hop music. Now NBC's Rehema Ellis reported on the proposal by impresario Russell Simmons concerning the foul word that Imus used and a couple of others frequently found in the rap vocabulary. Simmons defends the right to free expression by musicians: "Rappers paint a picture of society, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you," he told Ellis. So he does not want a ban on whore, bitch and nigger in songs--the "three words that we think are at the core of the outrage." Instead, Simmons urges that radio stations voluntarily delete the expletives by using the bleep device.

Ellis played the philistine, seeing a debate over "what some call disturbing and others call art"--as if art is disqualified from being disturbing.


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: California is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles…the President danced with African drummers in an attempt to increase awareness of malaria…Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be subpoena'd by a House panel to testify about pre-war intelligence on Iraq's nuclear program…a state funeral was held in Moscow for former President Boris Yeltsin.