The State Department received a unanimous nod for the Story of the Day. All three networks led with the bad news on the global status of the War on Terrorism. Terrorist-minded organizations are on the march, according to the diplomats' annual report, 40% more deadly than in 2005. In 2006, terrorist attacks killed 20,000 people, more than half of them Moslems.    
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video thumbnailABCWar on Terrorism: US mounts global campaignState Department reports 20K deaths in 2006Jonathan KarlPentagon
video thumbnailCBSWar on Terrorism: US mounts global campaignState Department reports 20K deaths in 2006David MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSEngland terrorism: fertilizer bomb plot foiledCell of five convicted of targeting night clubSheila MacVicarLondon
video thumbnailNBCCIA former Director George Tenet profiledDiscusses Bush, Iraq, al-Qaeda in his memoirTom BrokawNew York
video thumbnailABCCuba politics: Fidel Castro is in ailing healthGovernment keeps low profile pending successionBob WoodruffHavana
video thumbnailCBSCuban exile accused of jetliner-hotel bombsCIA saboteur Jose Posada protested in HavanaLara LoganHavana
video thumbnailCBSChina agriculture has poor quality controlFood tainted by additives, pesticides, pollutionBarry PetersenChina
video thumbnailNBCWhite House spokesman Tony Snow has colon cancerReturns after surgery, faces chemotherapyDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailNBCInside-the-Beltway prostitution ring investigatedAlleged madam releases telephone log of clientsPete WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCVitamins, herbal, dietary, nutritional supplementsBenefits often derived from placebo effectRobert BazellBoston
TERRORISM ON THE MARCH The State Department received a unanimous nod for the Story of the Day. All three networks led with the bad news on the global status of the War on Terrorism. Terrorist-minded organizations are on the march, according to the diplomats' annual report, 40% more deadly than in 2005. In 2006, terrorist attacks killed 20,000 people, more than half of them Moslems.

Even though the document was produced by the State Department, both CBS and ABC assigned Pentagon correspondents to summarize its findings. ABC's Jonathan Karl listed Afghanistan, Sudan and Nigeria as countries where terrorism is on the upswing and Indonesia where it is on the decline. Iraq, however, is by far the world's hotspot, according to the State Department, accounting for fully 13,000 of last year's global 20,000 terrorism death toll. After "doing away with a regime that sponsored terrorism," Iraq has turned into a "safe haven for terror attacks well beyond its borders," Karl commented. However, the American civilian toll from terrorists last year was "relatively small," CBS' David Martin pointed out, just 28 deaths.

NBC had Ned Colt cover the report from London, where a jury had just convicted a cell of five English-born militants for plotting to blow up a downtown nightclub. As in past years, Colt observed, the State Department named Iran as the nation state that is terrorists' most active sponsor. CBS' Sheila MacVicar covered the specifics of the surveillance to foil the London fertilizer bomb: 90 telephone lines bugged, 27,000 hours of audio and video monitored, 33,000 hours of stakeout duty. The video included two men "on the periphery of the investigation" who were not arrested and ended up as suicides in the mass transit bomb attack in London in July 2005. Unidentified sources at Scotland Yard told MacVicar that the cell was directed by abdal-Hadi al-Iraqi, the alleged al-Qaeda leader now held at the USNavy base at Guantanamo Bay.

SPREADING STORM George Tenet launched his book tour for At the Center of the Storm on CBS' 60 Minutes on Sunday night. Next stop for the former CIA Director was NBC and ABC. Tenet's q-&-a with ABC anchor Charles Gibson (subscription required) focused almost entirely on the errors the CIA made when it investigated Iraq's non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Specifically, Gibson followed up on the report last month by his colleague Brian Ross that a key informant about Saddam Hussein's supposed biological weapons, named Curveball, was a known fabricator. "Had the CIA ever interviewed him?" "Not directly but indirectly." "What does indirectly mean?" "Pass questions. Get answers. Corroborate the data. Go run it down." "I may be naive but it does strike me as passing strange that the Secretary of State would make a speech based on intelligence which comes from someone that the CIA has not directly spoken to." Tenet claimed the CIA had "validated" Curveball's information. "We were wrong."

On NBC, Tenet sat down with former anchor Tom Brokaw. Brokaw's profile took the scattershot approach. He asked about Iraq--and other issues. Tenet's relationship with President George Bush: "My whole professional life has been about serving not pleasing." Bureaucratic infighting: "I did not call Don Rumsfeld." Domestic al-Qaeda sleeper cells: "This is an easy country to get into." The vulnerability of the New York City subways: "These are people who are resilient, waiting, patient."

WAITING FOR FIDEL Tomorrow is May Day, so both ABC and CBS sent correspondents to Havana to prepare for the Communist Party's celebration of the international proletariat. ABC's Bob Woodruff covered Cuba's quiet political life with the 80-year-old Fidel Castro out of commission for nine months after stomach surgery. His brother Raul, the interim president, has been "keeping a very low profile." Woodruff found little popular enthusiasm for political dialogue on the streets. Most "do not dare comment" and when one woman told him that life was "so-so" her daughter reprimanded her for being "so political."

CBS' Lara Logan saw few signs of dissent: "Cubans are hoping" their leader will leave his sick bed to address their May Day rally, Logan asserted. Cuban ire is directed at Luis Posada instead. Posada, an exile turned CIA operative, stands accused of a string of sabotage bombings 30 years ago that destroyed a jetliner and hit a series of hotels. Posada is treated like Osama bin laden in Havana where daily silent street protests demand that the United States prosecute him for terrorism, instead of the immigration violation for which he is held in Miami. Logan summed up the local mood: "How can America condemn countries that harbor terrorists while refusing to hand over Cuba's most wanted?"

CHINESE FOOD Last week, CBS had Nancy Cordes follow up on the tainted pet food story: Tuesday, she reported the FDA was expanding its testing of vegetable proteins used for human consumption; Thursday, she added that the FDA was diverting much of its inspection efforts to food imports from China. Now Barry Petersen traveled to Shandong Province to check on the general safety of Chinese agriculture. Private laboratories, like Sino Analytica, are more trusted by the import-export trade than government inspectors, Petersen found. Besides the adulteration of processed cereals with melamine fertilizer to boost protein levels--a recently discontinued practice, Petersen reported--the main concerns are an unrestrained use of pesticide and the irrigation of crops with water polluted by industrial waste.

SNOW JOB White House correspondents made it obvious how hardnosed their self-image is by the elaborate display they made of playing against type in their tributes to Tony Snow's return to the job as the President's press secretary. Snow, a colon cancer patient, came back to work, speechless with emotion, after undergoing liver surgery for a recurrence of his tumor. He starts a course of chemotherapy later in the week. NBC's David Gregory reminded Snow how dogged he usually is: "I think really tough questioning when you are up at the podium will probably be the best medicine for you." CBS' Jim Axelrod gave a sentimental nod to Snow's fighting spirit: "If the key to beating cancer is heart, then cancer best get ready for a whipping."

NUMBERS GAME A second inside-the-Beltway story relating to the news media was decidedly unsentimental. It too, was covered by reporters from CBS and NBC but not ABC--which was especially odd.

The story concerned the racketeering prosecution of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a San Francisco businesswoman accused of operating Pamela Martin & Associates as a telephone-based escort service running 130 prostitutes for Washington DC powerbrokers.

So far, so seamy--but not really newsworthy.

To raise money for her defense, Palfrey had tried to sell her telephone logs to any scandalmonger who cared to deploy a reverse directory to dig up dirt on her Johns. Palfrey admits she ran a "sexual" business but called it "albeit legal"--she presumably meant "legal, albeit sexual." A court prohibited her from making the sale, so she announced that she was donating the logs to a news organization. Ostensibly, journalists would find out the names of her escorts' clients so they would testify in open court that she was not the DC Madam that she had been nicknamed. She has "customers shaking in high places," CBS' Bob Orr suggested. When a straightfaced Palfrey asked the press to "put aside the titillation of the Who's Who? list," Orr snorted--"Fat chance!"--although he did note that Palfrey "denies trying to blackmail former clients."

What makes it odd that CBS and NBC should cover the story but not ABC was that, as NBC's Pete Williams told us, the recipient of the logs turns out to be ABC News.

SUGAR COATED Does taking glucosamine and chondroitin, the nutritional supplement, treat symptoms of arthritis? NBC's Robert Bazell told us that the answer is no--and yes. In clinical trials, the supplement offers no therapeutic benefit. However, taking a pill in the belief that it possesses healing powers that do not exist has been proven to be an effective therapy. Bazell went to Boston to inquire into the Placebo Effect. Harvard University's Dr Ted Kaptchuk suggested the practical question: "How do you enlist people's ability to do things to help themselves?" Boston University's Dr David Felson called placebos "not a scientifically valid approach but a clinically helpful approach." Bazell concluded that, besides the cost, $20 or so a month, "the supplements do no harm."

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: Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been criticized for his conduct of last summer's war in southern Lebanon… New Jersey car crash survivor Gov John Corzine left hospital and apologized for his poor example in illegally riding seatbeltless…Prince Harry of England will go to war in Iraq after all…Delta Airlines has reorganized its finances and is no longer bankrupt.