CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MAY 25, 2007
The Memorial Day weekend may be beginning and millions may already be out of town--but there was hardly a holiday mood at the networks' newscasts. The Iraq War absorbed the news agenda as Congress finally voted to fund the fighting through September. CBS led with Pentagon red tape that is leaving the Marine Corps underequipped in Iraq. NBC led with a pre-war briefing that warned President George Bush of mayhem in Iraq. ABC led with Campaign 2008 and how the Democratic contenders are consumed by Iraq. Even on ABC's daytime talkshow The View Topic A was Iraq.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MAY 25, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSenate funding opponents include Clinton, ObamaJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSenate funding opponents include Clinton, ObamaChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCIraq: sectarian Sunni vs Shiite violence escalatesPresident Bush was warned of danger pre-invasionLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailABC
sub req
Iraq: political coalition government under fireShiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr now out of hidingTerry McCarthyBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCUSArmy Cougar armored vehicles replace HumVeesUSMC suffers production line shortage of MRAPsJim MiklaszewskiAtlanta
video thumbnailCBSFormer Vice President Al Gore is revitalizedMore relaxed on book tour than as candidateSharyn AlfonsiNew York
video thumbnailNBCAutomobile industry in financial troubleChrysler's ex-boss Lee Iacocca advises DetroitBrian WilliamsNew York
video thumbnailCBSAutomobile fuel efficiency standards, techniquesSUVs sales decline, compacts and hybrids growByron PittsNew Jersey
video thumbnailABC
sub req
Memorial Day holiday weekend beginsRV drivers, boaters pay high fuel costs for funBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailCBSIndianapolis 500 auto raceRace cars convert from gasoline to ethanol fuelCynthia BowersIndianapolis
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
NO HOLIDAY FROM IRAQ The Memorial Day weekend may be beginning and millions may already be out of town--but there was hardly a holiday mood at the networks' newscasts. The Iraq War absorbed the news agenda as Congress finally voted to fund the fighting through September. CBS led with Pentagon red tape that is leaving the Marine Corps underequipped in Iraq. NBC led with a pre-war briefing that warned President George Bush of mayhem in Iraq. ABC led with Campaign 2008 and how the Democratic contenders are consumed by Iraq. Even on ABC's daytime talkshow The View Topic A was Iraq.

"The troop funding bill passed Congress overwhelmingly," stated ABC's Jake Tapper. The 80-14 margin in the Senate was not the news--it was the identity of two of the minority, Presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. "Their votes contradict positions both Democrats staked out earlier this year." Republican Presidential candidate John McCain disagreed with his fellow senators calling their vote an embrace of "the policy of surrender" and likening it to "waving a white flag to al-Qaeda." When Obama responded with a misspelled press release, McCain teased Obama for not knowing the difference between "flack" and "flak." CBS' Jim Axelrod observed that "the playground brawl was on." Overshadowed by the battle over the war was part of the bill that "on a normal day," NBC's Chip Reid reckoned "would have been banner headlines all across the nation." The federal hourly minimum wage will increase to $7.25 over the next two years.

ABC's George Stephanopoulos (no link) offered political analysis of the rationale behind the late switch by Obama and Rodham Clinton. He cited pressure from Democratic activists, specifically moveon.org, and their anti-war rival John Edwards. As for their potential vulnerability to charges of excessive dovishness from McCain and his fellow Republicans, Stephanopoulos quoted the "iron rule" of campaign politics concerning the primary and the general: "If you look past the next election you will not get past the next election."

On The View on Wednesday, Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck found themselves in a knockdown shoutfest sparked by O'Donnell's rhetorical question: "655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?" Hasselbeck hinted that O'Donnell's answer was the US military but when Hasselbeck refused to say directly whether she, personally, believed O'Donnell had called US troops "terrorists," O'Donnell called Hasselbeck's hints "cowardly." So why did ABC find this newsworthy enough--aside from offering publicity to its own network's talkshow--to assign David Muir (no link) to take A Closer Look at the blow-by-blow? Muir offered an answer by Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff: the Iraq War is "no longer the elephant in the living room" and is now "impossible for television hosts and personalities to ignore."


LONG, DIFFICULT, TURBULENT NBC's Iraq lead from Lisa Myers looked back to the President's pre-war planning while in Baghdad ABC's Terry McCarthy (subscription required) looked forward to a looming political power struggle. Muqtada al-Sadr emerged from hiding to preach a Yankee Go Home sermon in the city of Kufa. McCarthy quoted al-Sadr's demands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: "I call upon the government not to extend the occupation even for a single day." Mused McCarthy: "His timing may be perfect" as "al-Maliki's power is weakening" and abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, a chief rival to al-Sadr for leadership among Iraq's Shiites, has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. McCarthy concluded that the 33-year-old cleric "is getting ready to stake his claim to power."

Myers obtained from the Senate Intelligence Committee an assessment written three months before the US invaded Iraq from the National Intelligence Council. It "accurately predicted" sectarian violence and warned that "any effort to build democracy would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent process." Myers noted that the assessment was not reflected in official pre-war talking points, rerunning that favorite soundbite from Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC's Meet the Press: "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."


DELAYED DELIVERY CBS led with MRAPs--that is the Pentagon acronym for the armored successor to the HumVee. A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle can survive blasts from roadside bombs because its V-shaped chassis deflects the explosive force. CBS' David Martin reported that the Marine Corps requested 1,200 MRAPs for Iraq 27 months ago: "So far they have received less than one hundred." The USArmy uses the Cougar, a large MRAP, which NBC's Jim Miklaszewski took for a test drive at its manufacturer, Force Protection, in Charleston SC. He called the Cougar "20 to 25 tons of rolling steel" With power steering and automatic transmission and "encased in armor and six inch bulletproof glass, it is like driving a bank vault."


GREENING OF GORE Former Presidential candidate Al Gore is attracting plaudits on his tour for The Assault on Reason, a book that is "knocking the media with one arm and the Bush Administration with the other," according to CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi. Alfonsi marveled at Gore's newfound ease: he "seems to have gone from awkward to almost slick…the gut who was once the punchline now seems to be in on the joke." So besides helping to sell his book, why should CBS find Al newsworthy? Anchor Katie Couric answered in her introduction with a huge Campaign 2008 graphic. He is the third most popular Democratic Presidential candidate in some polls. "He is just not in the race," said Alfonsi, "at least not yet."


INVETERATE SALESMAN For your Memorial Day holiday reading, NBC anchor Brian Williams publicized Where Have All the Leaders Gone? by Lee Iacocca. "Styling sells cars. Quality keeps them sold," declared the 82-year-old former Chrysler boss. He told Williams that the "market is clearly going green and that means hybrid cars." On CBS, Byron Pitts compared April 2007 with April 2004 and found Iacoccaesque changes in automobile purchasing. He quoted both percentage and raw numbers for sales of Sports Utility Vehicles, compact cars and hybrids. The former--down 17%, up 12%, up 300%--sounded much more dramatic than the latter. In raw numbers, three years ago, monthly sales for SUVs were 71K, for compacts 209K, for hybrids 7K; now those numbers are 59K, 235K and 27K. Even today the SUV outsells the hybrid two-to-one.


STUCK AT THE PUMP Yesterday, ABC's Betsy Stark (subscription required) saw no evidence that rising fuel prices would change driving behavior until a gallon of gasoline is more than a dollar more expensive than it is now. As gasoline is already near an all-time high--$3.22/gallon national average compared with $3.29 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars--NBC's Tom Costello found contrary evidence in Atlanta that changes have already begun: "Carpooling, public transportation and telecommuting have all suddenly surged."

Both ABC and CBS tried to get away from cars for their holiday weekend travel stories--but try as they might still got stuck on that pain-at-the-pump motif for their news hook. CBS' Nancy Cordes went to New York's busy LaGuardia Airport: "With airfares down slightly and gas prices up a lot, 3% more people will take a flight this Memorial Day weekend than last." And ABC's Betsy Stark (subscription required) showed us a recreational boater and a motor home camper. A 47-foot boat at Liberty State Marina in New Jersey cost $826 to fuel up; an RV just $350. Neither will let "record fuel prices interfere with their holiday plans."


HOLY SPIRITS The Indianapolis 500 is held on Monday Sunday and both Cynthia Bowers and Dean Reynolds landed a ticket to the Brickyard. Held in the heart of corn country, it was a natural marketing move to switch the racing fuel from gasoline to ethanol. Well, actually, "to call this 100% ethanol is not exactly true," CBS' Bowers acknowledged. "They had to add 2% gas to the mix otherwise it would have qualified as pure grain alcohol and been subject to federal liquor taxes." ABC's Reynolds (subscription required) profiled the ministry of the Rev Bob Hills, the chaplain to the Indy Race Car circuit. During the year "he is performing weddings and baptisms around the country" for the drivers and their crews. And, as they prepare for that 230mph straightaway, Hills helps them say their prayers. Over the years, the Indy 500 has claimed the lives of 36 drivers, in practices, time trials and competition. Hills says: "There are few atheists in the pits."


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: both Koreas made military moves, with the South launching a $1bn navy destroyer, the North test-firing short-range missiles…flash floods in Killeen Texas killed five…the approach arteries to San Francisco's Bay Bridge have been repaired in record time…the annual death rate from drunk driving accidents increased in 2006 to almost 18,000 nationwide.