CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MAY 17, 2007
Immigration was Story of the Day. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled the draft of compromise legislation concerning the millions who live in the United States with neither legal residency nor work permit. The bill combines intensified barriers along the border with Mexico, punishment in the form of a $5,000 fine for violators already in this country and new program--dubbed a Z Visa--to offer them a path towards citizenship. Both ABC and CBS treated the plan as major news, leading with the announcement and offering detailed follow-ups. NBC (2 min v ABC 8, CBS 8) did not. Instead it led with an expose on the USArmy's body armor procurement.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MAY 17, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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Illegal immigration legislative plan draftedBipartisan Senate group unveils compromiseMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIllegal immigration legislative plan draftedPlan requires massive Mexican border build-upBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIllegal immigration legislative plan draftedPros and cons of Senate proposal debatedGeorge LewisLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCMulticultural population, ethnic diversity increasesCensus Bureau counts 100m non-white residentsPeter AlexanderLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCUSArmy combat body armor quality questionedApproved Interceptor challenged by Dragon SkinLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSPalestine politics: Hamas-Fatah factional fightingIsraeli military gets involved in Gaza feudAllen PizzeyTel Aviv
video thumbnailABCWorld Bank president Paul Wolfowitz resignsGirlfriend's pay raise challenged ethicallyJonathan KarlPentagon
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Sudan civil war: ethnic cleansing in DarfurRefugee camp clinic depends on charity fundsJim SciuttoDarfur
video thumbnailCBSFormer President Ronald Reagan rememberedHandwritten White House diaries publishedBill PlanteWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCJFK assassination in Dallas rememberedBullet forensics undercut single gun theory testPete WilliamsWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
IMMIGRATION COMPROMISE Immigration was Story of the Day. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled the draft of compromise legislation concerning the millions who live in the United States with neither legal residency nor work permit. The bill combines intensified barriers along the border with Mexico, punishment in the form of a $5,000 fine for violators already in this country and new program--dubbed a Z Visa--to offer them a path towards citizenship. Both ABC and CBS treated the plan as major news, leading with the announcement and offering detailed follow-ups. NBC (2 min v ABC 8, CBS 8) did not. Instead it led with an expose on the USArmy's body armor procurement.

ABC and CBS had already signaled the importance of immigration legislation in their eyes. CBS filed a Sharyl Attkisson Exclusive on the behind-doors Senate talks last Friday; ABC's George Stephanopoulos led with a preview of the deal on Tuesday. The plan was sponsored by senators from all positions on the political spectrum. At the White House, ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) was impressed at the "stunning moment of harmony," quoting soundbites of support "from the left," "from the right," and--oddly--"from the White House," as if the hallmark of George Bush's Presidency is Clintonesque triangulation. CBS Attkisson pointed out that "compromise, the bill's strength, is also its weakness. For every point that pleases someone there is another bound to anger someone else."

Sure enough, CBS' Katie Couric (no link) interviewed James Sensenbrenner, a Republican leader on immigration in the House. He called the bill "liberal amnesty." His bottom line: "I think the deal stinks." The President offered a well-honed line in contradiction: people "will be treated without amnesty but without animosity." ABC's Stephanopoulos (no link) counted votes and predicted at least 60 for passage in the Senate but found the House to be "where the political terrain gets tough." Opponents include not only anti-amnesty Republicans but also Democrats who reject strict rules for guestworkers. Many "vulnerable" Democrats will not support the bill "unless they are guaranteed to get 60 to 70 Republicans votes. That is hard to get."

CBS assigned Bob Orr to explain the law enforcement provisions of the compromise. Under the bill, the border with Mexico will have 370 more miles of fencing, 70 camera towers, and aerial patrols by unmanned drone spy planes. "Workers will be issued tamperproof cards complete with photos and fingerprints." On ABC, Kate Snow described how that Z Visa might change an illegal worker's life: it is a plan to "make them invisible no more"--no more fear of immigration police, no more prohibition on visits to family in Mexico, no more capitulation to an employer who refuses to pay overtime.

As for the future, assuming this bill is passed, new immigration laws may "bust up families" NBC's George Lewis warned. "Wives and minor children could get green cards but it is going to be harder for siblings and adult children." A proposed point system would give priority to applicants with better job skills and higher education, as opposed to ties of kinship. California immigrants rights groups see that plan as "patently unfair," CBS' Sandra Hughes reported, to the "nannies, gardeners and service industry workers" who make up the majority of that state's immigrants.


WHITE FLIGHT Instead of a detailed examination of today's immigration proposals, NBC took the long view of demographic shifts as the Census Bureau announced that the non-white population of the United States now surpasses 100m. Peter Alexander pointed out that the most ethnically diverse cohorts in the population are its youngest: "While the older generation focuses on healthcare and retirement, younger minorities think about the future"--such issues as education and affordable housing.

The Caucasian-American population--Alexander called them "whites"--is shrinking in 14 states due to internal emigration to states like Nevada. On Alexander's map it looked like white flight is occurring in two southern states (La, Miss), one western state (Cal), one on the great plains (ND), three in the midwest (Ill, Mich, Ohio), five in the mid-Atlantic (NY, NJ, Pa, Md, Del) and two in New England (Mass, Ct)--although it is hard to make out those tiny eastern seaboard states so they may not be the 14 the Census cited.


CHAIN MAIL The brand of body armor that the USArmy should procure for its soldiers was the question that occupied NBC's lead. Lisa Myers took almost six minutes to file an Investigates feature contrasting Interceptor and Dragon Skin. The former is the approved armor; it uses four plates of bulletproof material in a vest worn on top of the uniform. Dragon Skin is its rival, made "like medieval chain mail" of interconnected disks worn under the uniform. Myers conducted anecdotal ballistics tests and interviewed the inventor of Interceptor himself and both indicated that Dragon Skin is superior. The CIA concurs and uses it. Myers asked Gen Mark Brown, therefore, why the army preferred Interceptor and had banned Dragon Skin from use. Brown replied that Dragon Skin had failed bullet tests. Myers was not convinced: "The army banned Dragon Skin in March almost two months before testing began in May."

As for the soldiers wearing the armor, only CBS filed an update from Iraq on the search for the missing trio from the Tenth Mountain Division. Mark Strassmann joined a patrol as it searched the poor Sunni village of Rushdi Mullah, where the 300 residents are "dirt poor and tight-lipped." Strassmann explained their refusal to cooperate: for months al-Qaeda "terrorized" them, "even killing a local sheikh for talking to the Americans."


FIRING ON A FUNERAL Yesterday, NBC's Martin Fletcher suggested that Israel might get involved into the Gaza Strip fighting between Fatah and Hamas. Now, indeed, "Israel stepped deeper into the mayhem," according to CBS' Allen Pizzey, firing a missile at a car containing two Hamas officials. Nevertheless the Palestinians have "so far managed to kill more of their own than the Israelis have." Fatah gunmen even opened fire on a Hamas funeral, Pizzey added. He called Fatah "the American favorite" in Gaza.


INTELLECTUAL GODFATHER The long-running fight over the tenure of Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank finally attracted attention from the networks. The first time a correspondent was assigned to the dispute was on the day it was over. Wolfowitz resigned, NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted, but only after he had extracted a statement from the bank's board to the effect that he had no reason to go. Specifically the board acknowledged "that Wolfowitz had at least thought he was acting ethically," as Mitchell put it. CBS mentioned the story only in passing.

ABC's Jonathan Karl explained that Wolfowitz "ruffled feathers" with the bank's bureaucracy even before he ran into trouble over his "girlfriend" Shaha Riza, a colleague at the bank. The ethics committee "told him to transfer Riza to avoid a conflict of interest. He did, giving her a $60,000 pay raise in the process. He said he was simply compensating her for damage to her career. He insisted he did nothing wrong."

Karl seemed to concede that the underlying reason this was news was not the bank or the girlfriend but because of Wolfowitz' previous job. When he was at the Pentagon, he was called "the intellectual godfather of the Iraq War." Karl even used his signature soundbite: "I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators."


KEEP THIS CLINIC OPEN Part three of Jim Sciutto's reporting from Sudan saw him back in Darfur. Monday (subscription required) he covered the civil war itself; Wednesday he was in Khartoum to explore the Sudan-China axis; now Sciutto (subscription required) finds himself among Darfur's refugees. "The camps are no longer temporary havens but cities dependent on aid." Most food is donated by the government of the United States but healthcare is run by charities. He visited a Safe Motherhood Center clinic run by Relief International where he was told lives are saved at the rate of $5 per head. This clinic is sustained by the efforts of a Baltimore woman named Patricia Crawford. She read in a newspaper that the clinic was running out of money so she raised $10,000. "Doctors say the money has already saved hundreds of lives."


WHAT THE HELL? Both CBS and NBC ended with Presidential history. NBC's Pete Williams told us that new forensics have discredited the 30-year-old conclusions of ballistics tests on the four bullet fragments found in Dallas from the assassination of John Kennedy. Those tests were the supposed proof of the single gunman theory, since they asserted that all four fragments were shards of a single bullet. Apparently they could have come from several bullets, which would have required multiple gunmen. This study, shrugged Williams, "provides more proof on one thing--the books on the Kennedy assassination may never be closed."

CBS gave plenty of free publicity to its in-house historian Douglas Brinkley, who is the editor of The Reagan Diaries, a newly-published collection of excerpts from the Gipper's hand-written daily thoughts during the White House years. ABC's Terry Moran (subscription required) filed the same story two weeks ago. CBS had Bill Plante, who covered Reagan at the time, wait for closer to the publication date to cover the highlights of his colleague Brinkley's work. A tiny point from Plante's piece sticks in the mind--about the odd way Reagan transcribed his internal thoughts. Musing about the implausibility of going to war with the Soviet Union he wrote: "What the h--l have they got that anyone would want?" To which, we would ask: who the hell censors his own cusswords when writing for his eyes only?


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: the Senate schedules a vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales…Prime Minister Tony Blair held his final press conference with President George Bush before he resigns…a Gulf Coast bridge wiped out by Hurricane Katrina has been rebuilt and reopened in Mississippi.