CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MAY 18, 2007
A very light day of news was marred by calamity at ABC. A pair of its staffers, cameraman Alaa Aziz and soundman Saif Yousuf, were murdered on their way home from work at ABC's Baghdad bureau. They were the 103rd and 104th journalists to be killed in Iraq since the United States invaded in 2003. Only ABC itself assigned a correspondent to the deaths--NBC did not mention them even in passing--so they were not the Story of the Day. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was instead, as NBC sent anchor Brian Williams to New Orleans for a progress report. CBS, too, led with a Katrina-related feature, on the toxic living conditions in FEMA's emergency housing trailers.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MAY 18, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailABC
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Iraq: healthcare system is in crisisLocal combat casualties receive inferior careTerry McCarthyBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesHouse plan for funding rejected by White HouseJim AxelrodWhite House
video thumbnailABCIllegal immigration legislative plan draftedSticking points are amnesty, guestworkers planMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIllegal immigration legislative plan draftedHomeland Security arguments for Senate billBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIllegal immigration legislative plan draftedIllegal residents react to Senate proposalsGeorge LewisLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCHurricane Katrina aftermath along Gulf CoastRepopulation of New Orleans picks up paceMartin SavidgeNew Orleans
video thumbnailCBSFEMA housing trailers have toxic indoor airFormaldehyde risk was first known in March 2006Armen KeteyianNew York
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Guns: firearms control, concealed weapons debateVa criticizes NYC sting of strawman gun salesDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailCBSPalestine politics: Hamas-Fatah factional fightingUS aids Fatah by subsidizing security forcesDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCUganda poverty relief for shantytown widowsCharity sells strings of beads from rolled paperJohn LarsonLos Angeles
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
JOURNALISTS IN LINE OF FIRE A very light day of news was marred by calamity at ABC. A pair of its staffers, cameraman Alaa Aziz and soundman Saif Yousuf, were murdered on their way home from work at ABC's Baghdad bureau. They were the 103rd and 104th journalists to be killed in Iraq since the United States invaded in 2003. Only ABC itself assigned a correspondent to the deaths--NBC did not mention them even in passing--so they were not the Story of the Day. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was instead, as NBC sent anchor Brian Williams to New Orleans for a progress report. CBS, too, led with a Katrina-related feature, on the toxic living conditions in FEMA's emergency housing trailers.

From Baghdad, Terry McCarthy (no link) paid tribute to his late colleagues: "They went places we foreigners cannot go," he explained, as he showed a montage of their coverage, "a wedding, a site of mass murder, a zoo, a market destroyed by a carbomb." Almost all of the journalists killed in Iraq, 82 out of the 104, have been locals like Aziz and Yousuf. "The American media could not cover this war without the hundreds of Iraqi journalists like them."

In what anchor Charles Gibson called a "real way to pay tribute" to the pair, ABC aired one of the last stories they filed with McCarthy (subscription required). It contrasted the state-of-the-art medical care Iraqi soldiers receive if they happen to be wounded while on patrol with US troops with the alternative: "Iraqi hospitals were once some of the best in the Middle East. Now they are terribly short of skilled doctors and modern equipment." Since the war started, 45,000 members of the Iraqi security forces have been injured. In all there are 20,000 amputees from the war. "The main prosthetic clinic in Baghdad can only make six new limbs a week."

Speaking of war correspondents, CBS anchor Katie Couric introduced an excerpt from That's The Way It Is, the networks' primetime tribute to her predecessor Walter Cronkite upon his 90th birthday. It showed a clip from Conkite's 1968 documentary Report From Vietnam, after seeing which President Lyndon Johnson famously concluded: "If I have lost Walter Cronkite I have lost the American people." Couric aired the concluding soundbite from Cronkite that prompted Johnson's dejection: "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out, then, will be to negotiate--not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could."


PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE The inside-the-Beltway negotiations over funding for the Iraq War were covered by ABC and CBS from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Progress consisted of Congress agreeing to one of President George Bush's demands, that the bill include no domestic spending. Otherwise, CBS' Jim Axelrod reported from the White House, it was "slow going." He outlined the President's offer that a list of 16 benchmarks to be met by the Iraqi government be tied to funds for economic aid, but not to funds for military operations.

On Capitol Hill, ABC's George Stephanopoulos previewed his Sunday interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for This Week. Pelosi's offer was that the Democrats' timeline for a troop withdrawal be accompanied by a potential Presidential waiver. When Bush turned down that formula, Pelosi hinted that he might get no money at all: "If the President says no accountability--'I want a blank check with a war without end'--we will oppose that." Axelrod thought the pressure is on the President: he has "every incentive" to make a deal happen. Stephanopoulos thought the pressure is on the Speaker: the timeline "is going to have to go."

NBC, meanwhile, profiled Anthony Schober, one of the seven soldiers from the unit of the Tenth Mountain Division that was ambushed last weekend. Jennifer London reported that Schober had been killed and the 4,000-man search for his trio of captured comrades is now entering its seventh day.


HUMAN NATURE All three networks followed up on yesterday's Story of the Day, the plan to change immigration laws. Each chose a different angle. NBC's George Lewis surveyed the reaction of the immigrant community itself, where many citizen children are being raised by parents who are vulnerable to deportation: "For those living in the shadows it is hope mixed with fear." The enforcement angle was selected by CBS' Bob Orr, who had Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff explain why his department supports the bill. Chertoff complained that his agents are now "spending a lot of their time chasing housekeepers and landscapers" when he wants them to focus on "the dope dealers, the gangbangers, the terrorists." ABC looked at the politics of the bill. Martha Raddatz suggested that passage "would mean a rare victory for the President" but found him "stuck in the middle:" many Republicans find the provision of legal residence upon payment of a $5,000 fine "simply a non-starter;" as for the Democrats, the prospect of 400,000 guestworkers being allowed to stay for two years as temporary workers is a "key concern" because "labor unions fear it would take jobs away."

CBS' Assignment America feature leaves it to viewers to pick the topic for Steve Hartman to profile a week in advance. So it was a coincidence that in the immigration-heavy week, Hartman's assignment was a profile of Alfredo Quinones, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University. The 39-year-old Mexican-born physician arrived in California's San Joaquin Valley 20 years ago as an illegal immigrant. Hartman traced his career path: migrant farmworker, tractor driver, welder, community college student, UC Berkeley, Harvard Medical School, brain surgery. Knowing what he knows now would he enter illegally all over again? "I am sure I would," the naturalized US citizen asserted. "It is human nature to try to find better ways to survive."


HALF WAY THERE NBC has made Hurricane Katrina its signature story over the last 21 months. In the first four months of 2007 alone, only NBC (26 min v ABC 2, CBS 7) spent noticeable resources on the recovery effort. Brian Williams, anchoring from the renovated New Orleans Convention Center, had Martin Savidge and Ron Mott cover the city's rebuilding. Savidge was optimistic, reporting that for the first time since the floods, New Orleans' population exceeded 50% of its pre-Katrina total: tourism is increasing; convention business is increasing--and so are the violent crime rate and scams by housing contractors. Mott filed from Atlanta on a dozen-city billboard advertising campaign encouraging evacuated residents to return. A call center dubbed NOLA Bound is "fielding a flurry of questions from people looking for a starting point."

On CBS, Armen Keteyian followed up on Wednesday's Investigates expose of toxic formaldeyde fumes in FEMA's emergency housing trailers. FEMA Administrator David Paulison testified on Capitol Hill that his agency learned of the polluted indoor air two weeks ago and that the fumes do "not present a health hazard." Keteyian produced internal FEMA documents from March 2006 on tests finding "extremely high levels of the cancer causing chemical." Keteyian quoted FEMA's response that those documents "presented a worst case scenario and that we were misinterpreting the data."


STRAW STING A spat between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of New York earned a spot on the national news because of all that attention paid to the shooting spree killing at Virginia Tech. Both CBS and ABC had reporters cover the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway--a raffle with a door prize of a rifle and a pistol--that was picketed by the bereaved parents of Mary Read, one of the students slain in Blacksburg Va. ABC's Dan Harris (subscription required) explained that the Bloomberg in question was New York City's Mayor Michael. Hizzoner ordered a sting operation against gun shops suspected of violating firearms control laws by knowingly selling to straw men, accomplices of those prohibited from making legal purchases. Bloomberg's suspicion was that "Virginia is a key stop in the so-called Iron Pipeline" for illegal guns used in violent crimes in the city. The raffle was staged to celebrate gun ownership. "Bloomberg called the event sick. Gun owners say that is his right--just do not call it illegal," CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi observed.


PALACE INTRIGUE As fighting between Fatah and Hamas for control of the Gaza Strip continued, CBS' David Martin examined the State Department's policy in the "larger battle to fill the power vacuum left by the death of Yasser Arafat." His conclusion was that the United States "is backing one side"--Fatah. The amount of the backing is not much in dollar terms, $59m for contractors to equip and train the "palace guard" of President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader. Nevertheless, the US "wants the Hamas government to fall."


PAPER CHAINS Glossy paper from discarded magazines is torn into narrow strips and rolled into tight beads and threaded onto necklaces. This pretty paper jewelry attracted the attention of a pair of visiting American women. They collected samples from more than 100 beadmakers in the shantytowns of Uganda and sold them back home as a charity called Bead for Life. John Larson profiled the charity for NBC's Making a Difference series.

The beadmakers certainly do need a difference made in their lives: many are war widows from the civil war in northern Uganda; many of their children have died of AIDS; many themselves are HIV-positive; "and just when you wonder if life could get any harder, here is where they work," Larson showed us, "pounding rocks for a dollar a day." See Rose smile at the money the beads bring in. "Ay, ay, ay, Bead for Life, we thank you!"


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: on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week on yet another all-time high…sunken treasure from a C17th merchant ship has been retrieved off the coast of England…fruit-flavored Skypes, an alcoholic beverage Anheuser-Busch was accused of marketing to minors, has been pulled from sale.