Opponents of the immigration bill blocked its passage in the Senate while the President was traveling in Europe. So, upon his return, George Bush took a trip to Capitol Hill to lobby his fellow Republicans to resuscitate the measure. Both NBC and CBS led with his less-than-successful efforts, NBC from the White House and CBS from Capitol Hill, as illegal immigration became Story of the Day. ABC chose the real estate market, where home mortgage foreclosures are on the increase.    
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailCBSIllegal immigration legislative plan blockedPresident Bush lobbies GOP senators in vainSharyl AttkissonCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABC
sub req
Real estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseRefinancing rates rise, default rate doublesDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailCBSRetirement financial planning effortsBabyboomers lack savings, likely to work longerNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailNBC2008 Michael Bloomberg campaign speculationRecord as NYC mayor, future ambitions surveyedBrian WilliamsNew York
video thumbnailNBCMagnet, charter schools offer alternative educationPair of academies in Harlem NY improves gradesRehema EllisNew York
video thumbnailABCIraq: war-zone journalists at risk of violenceMilitary interpreter saved life of ABC newsmanBob WoodruffDamascus
video thumbnailABC
sub req
Palestine politics: Hamas-Fatah factional fightingHamas militia advances on streets of Gaza StripWilf DinnickJerusalem
video thumbnailNBCDiet and weight-loss products proliferateHuge marketing plan for Alli pill sold O-T-CNancy SnydermanNew York
video thumbnailCBSMilitary bases face toxic chemicals contaminationHouse hearings into Camp Lejeune ground waterDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABC
sub req
Dry cleaning snafu leads to $54m DC lawsuitMom-and-pop store sued over lawyer's lost pantsJim AvilaNew York
PRESIDENT TURNS LOBBYIST Opponents of the immigration bill blocked its passage in the Senate while the President was traveling in Europe. So, upon his return, George Bush took a trip to Capitol Hill to lobby his fellow Republicans to resuscitate the measure. Both NBC and CBS led with his less-than-successful efforts, NBC from the White House and CBS from Capitol Hill, as illegal immigration became Story of the Day. ABC chose the real estate market, where home mortgage foreclosures are on the increase.

The President's lunch did not go well. "He may not have changed any minds," reported NBC's David Gregory. "Republican leaders said their opposition is firm." CBS' Jim Axelrod, also reporting from the White House, relayed the optimism of Bush's aides who argued that the Republican senators "just want more time to debate it and address constituent concerns." But NBC's Gregory insisted that those concerns are unaddressable: "A hard line on immigration is now the litmus test for grassroots conservatives."

On Capitol Hill, CBS' Sharyl Attkisson floated a couple of amendments that may salvage the legislation: first, assign responsibility for certifying the security of the border to each state's governor; second, appropriate border security spending first, before passing the bill, so voters "know it is really there." But when Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged not to restart debate unless 25 Republicans were committed to support the bill, ABC's Jake Tapper called that "a very, very tall order…This bill may just be dead."

NOT SO GOLDEN The housing market was just one economic story to make the networks' newscasts. The Brookings Institution also attracted coverage with a survey of retirement financial planning by the babyboom generation. And angry shareholders made waves at the annual meeting of Yahoo! because of CEO Terry Semel's $170m annual salary, CBS' Anthony Mason reported.

A total of 176,000 homes went into foreclosure last month nationwide, a default rate almost double that of a year ago. ABC's David Muir (subscription required) called the numbers "stunning" and "incredible." The worst hit states are California, Colorado and Nevada but even rustbelt cities are suffering: Cleveland is "on track to reach 17,000 foreclosures this year." The foreclosures "are only adding to an already saturated supply of For Sale signs in our nation's neighborhoods," CNBC's Diana Olick observed on NBC, "and that is pushing prices down."

NBC and CBS both covered the Brookings' study on the future of retirement--or lack of it. The 78m-strong babyboom generation "will not do retirement like their parents did," NBC's Tom Costello concluded. A key difference is their marital status: only 58% of them will retire married and being single is "a contributor to financial instability." A second is lack of savings, noted CBS' Nancy Cordes. A third is life expectancy: "Seniors live longer and pay more for healthcare." The bottom line is that many sixtysomethings are "likely to keep working," Costello concluded, "because they have to."

I HEART NY NBC offered a pair of puff pieces to the Big Apple. Anchor Brian Williams profiled hizzoner Michael Bloomberg. Rehema Ellis celebrated the "inspiring turnaround" at a pair of charter schools in Harlem in NBC's What Works series. At the Leadership Village Academy, students log ten-hour school days and are "transformed," testing in the top tier for reading and math.

Williams news hook for his wet kiss for the mayor was that Bloomberg is "mentioned more and more frequently" as a possible Presidential candidate. Bloomberg touted the New York City subway system, the importance of planting trees in city streets, the need to reform Social Security. Williams chipped in with Bloomberg's astonishing wealth--"the diminutive mayor…made his bones as a giant of the financial world"--his advocacy of gun control, his opposition to cigarette smoking, his ban of trans-fats in fast food and his plan to tax cars to reduce traffic congestion.

There was only one sour note in these two smooches. Williams seemed really uncomfortable riding the IRT with Bloomberg. "New Yorkers are not big on eye contact below ground," he observed. "How often does the unthinkable cross your mind?" he asked. "We are under the streets of this city, a lot of people down here--what we hideously, in the terrorism business, call 'soft targets.'" He dressed up his inquiry as a post-September-11th worry, but it came across as old-fashioned claustrophobia.

LIFESAVER Bob Woodruff, the former co-anchor of ABC World News traveled to the Middle East for the first time since his brains were nearly blown out in Iraq. He sought out the military interpreter, identified only as Omar, who saved his life that day, now a war refugee in Damascus. "Did you just assume at that moment that I was dead?" "When I saw you, yes. I saw your neck and probably some of your face and stuff really--you got injured and the blood was coming out." The bomb that nearly killed Woodruff was the 37th explosion Omar had experienced. He received death threats because of his work with Americans and fled to Syria. He has applied for a visa to emigrate and enlist in the USArmy, so far with no response. "He is down to his last $2,000 and when it runs out, Omar says, he may have no choice but to return to Iraq."

Woodruff was clearly using the airtime of ABC's A Closer Look as a personal repayment of free publicity to put pressure on the State Department to expedite Omar's case.

NO PLACE All three networks covered the warfare in the Gaza Strip, although none from Gaza itself: Mark Phillips from London for CBS, Wilf Dinnick (subscription required) from Jerusalem for ABC, Tom Aspell from Tel Aviv from NBC. Aspell did manage to obtain a discouraging soundbite from a Palestinian journalist on the scene: "Sorry to tell you, there is no place to hide," Hamsi al-Atar reported. "If someone wants to kill you there is no place to hide, from both sides." Most of the Strip's 1.5m residents are "hiding in their homes," ABC's Winnick told us. "The gunmen now control Gaza. The police have fled and armed militias now rule the streets."

The fighting between Hamas and Fatah escalated into all-out civil war, CBS' Phillips reported, when a Fatah rocket hit the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas. Fatah is led by Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, and has 80,000 soldiers in Gaza. Yet, Phillips pointed out, "the more militant Hamas has a highly trained and motivated militia of 6,000 that has been overrunning some of Fatah's strategic strongholds." NBC's Aspell, too, concluded that Fatah was defeated: "Hamas all but owns the Gaza Strip and Israel and the United States will now have to deal with the more radical Palestinian group on anything concerning Gaza."

LOSING IT The flacks at GlaxoSmithKline got an assist from NBC, which assigned in-house physician Nancy Snyderman to file an In Depth feature on its new diet pill Alli. Previously available by prescription only as Xenical, Alli goes on sale over-the-counter in a weaker dose. The pharmaceutical firm hired consultant Caroline Apovian to package the pills with a weight loss book The Alli Diet Plan. Snyderman quoted Apovian: "I feel that I have an obligation to help a company that is truly trying to help the people of the United States lose some weight and keep it off."

That "some weight," Snyderman warned, may be "just a few more pounds;" Alli's side effects include "loose stools and gassy discharge;" and the pills cost $50 each month.

Rimonabant is a stronger weight-loss pill designed only for the chronically obese that the FDA is about to consider for approval. CBS' in-house physician Jon LaPook explained that it works by "blocking the receptors in your brain that make you hungry." Unfortunately it can change the brain in other ways too, producing "psychiatric side effects such as depression, anxiety and even suicidal ideation."

TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS A pair of dry cleaning stories rounded off the day's news, one silly, one tragic. The tragic was covered by CBS' David Martin from the Pentagon. It concerned pollution of the groundwater at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina by toxic dry cleaning chemicals. Over the course of three decades, 75,000 people drank from tainted well water at the Marine Corps base and 20,000 children were born there. "The Marines disocovered the contamination in 1982 but allowed the families to keep drinking the water for another five years." A House panel held hearings into birth defects and childhood cancers as 850 former residents have sued for $4bn for death and personal injury.

The silly was also a lawsuit. ABC's Jim Avila (subscription required) told us about the Chung family's Custom Cleaners store in Washington DC, sued for $54m over a pair of missing pants. Roy Pearson, an administrative judge, wants damages for the 1,200 days his pants were lost. On each of those days the three-member Chung family violated its pledge of "guaranteed satisfaction and same day service." Pearson argues that a daily violation is worth $3,000 for each Chung, or $9,000 per day. Throw in $500,000 in emotional damages--"Pearson broke down in tears trying to describe how he was treated"--and $542,000 in legal fees--"even though he is representing himself"--and the $54m is easy to rack up.

The Chungs "found the pants and offered him $12,000 to settle," Avila added. No verdict yet.

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 State Department was active in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressuring Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to achieve political reconciliation and formally accusing Iran of supplying weapons to Taliban guerrillas…diplomats also accused allies in the Persian Gulf of condoning slavery…spacewalks at the International Space Station may include repairs to the Shuttle Atlantis…the federal deficit is shrinking as tax revenues are growing…Tony Blair, the outgoing Prime Minister of Britain, found the Fleet Street press "feral"…President Bush did not have his watch stolen by an Albanian pickpocket after all.