The billionaire mayor of New York City was the networks' Story of the Day. The day after Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party, he attracted Campaign 2008 coverage by coyly denying that his departure paved the way for an independent third party run. Since Bloomberg's moves provoked mere speculation they were not newsworthy enough to lead any of the three newscasts. ABC and CBS chose news--President George Bush's veto of a stem cell research bill and the US military sweep of Baqubah respectively. NBC chose an Investigates feature to kick off its three-part series from the Tex-Mex border.    
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video thumbnailCBS2008 Michael Bloomberg campaign speculationMay run as independent opponent of polarizationJim AxelrodNew York
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Human embryo stem cell biotechnology researchPresident Bush vetoes federally funded programMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS military sweep of Baqubah goes house-to-houseDavid MartinPentagon
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Iraq: war refugees create humanitarian crisisSyria allows no-work entry, Jordan restrictionsBob WoodruffAmman
video thumbnailNBCPalestine politics: Hamas-Fatah factional fightingGaza security restored, expect supply shortagesTom AspellGaza
video thumbnailNBCICE border controls along Mexico lineEvaded by black market green cards, passportsLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCTex-Mex border cities form single metropolitan areaAffluent El Paso joined to crime-ridden JuarezDon TeagueTexas
video thumbnailCBSCharleston SC furniture showroom fire kills nineSofa store worker describes blaze, rescueKelly CobiellaSouth Carolina
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Skin can be damaged by sun's ultra-violet raysMany sunscreens are ineffective, hype benefitsJohn McKenzieNew York
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Sculptor creates microscopic figures in EnglandWillard Wigan's works sit in eye of needleNick WattEngland
IF HE CAN MAKE IT THERE… The billionaire mayor of New York City was the networks' Story of the Day. The day after Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party, he attracted Campaign 2008 coverage by coyly denying that his departure paved the way for an independent third party run. Since Bloomberg's moves provoked mere speculation they were not newsworthy enough to lead any of the three newscasts. ABC and CBS chose news--President George Bush's veto of a stem cell research bill and the US military sweep of Baqubah respectively. NBC chose an Investigates feature to kick off its three-part series from the Tex-Mex border.

Mayor Bloomberg announced his plans to serve out his term in New York City instead of seeking higher office and was promptly disbelieved. ABC's Jake Tapper (no link) outlined the form of words that Bloomberg could have used--"I am not a candidate. I will not be a candidate. If drafted, I will not run. If elected I will not serve"--and noted instead "currently" and "intention," qualifying language "that leaves the door open." NBC's David Gregory consulted Bloomberg aides and confirmed that, yes, he is "investigating a potential run" and that he is "building a profile" with a media blitz that included an interview with Brian Williams on NBC just last week.

Why would he announce? CBS' Jim Axelrod cited "widespread dissatisfaction with the highly partisan political atmosphere." His network's poll shows that 57% of Republicans are unhappy with their current candidate options and 35% of Democrats. A Bloomberg candidacy "would set up Times Square as the crossroads of the political world. Imagine New York's top three political heavyweights--Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg--all duking it out."

CALIFORNIA SPLIT ABC considered the President's veto on moral grounds of federal funding for stem cell research using human embryos as noteworthy enough for a pair of reports. NBC and CBS dismissed it with a mention only in passing. From the White House, ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) quoted activist actor Michael J Fox, a onetime sitcom star on the ABC network, calling the veto "a sad day" and criticizing the pro-life President for invoking "personal belief on legislation that would provide cures and hope for millions." Raddatz also noted Bush's "clear effort to silence some of his critics" by encouraging biotech study of non-embryonic stem cells from such sources as the skin or amniotic fluid. ABC's Ned Potter pointed out that "many researchers say they are just not as good." With federal funds on hold, California is the center of embryonic research in this country. The Golden State has committed $3bn to the effort over the next decade.

AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST CBS led with the 10,000-strong advance on the deserted streets of Baqubah, the capital of Diyala Province. David Martin at the Pentagon narrated footage filed by producer Phil Ittner, embedded with US troops. "They are on foot because, believe it or not, it is safer." A roadside bomb could kill half a dozen soldiers inside an armored vehicle. "Spaced out, the worst any bomb could do is kill one or two." Ittner's footage included a guided missile strike on a boobytrapped house and the harmless detonation of a roadside bomb at an intersection. "How successful has this new offensive against al-Qaeda been so far?" CBS anchor Katie Couric asked correspondent Lara Logan in Baghdad. "It is really too early to say" given how adept al-Qaeda has proved at "melting away from the battlefield only to appear somewhere else."

ABC and NBC both observed the United Nation's World Refugee Day in covering the humanitarian crisis caused by the war. NBC's Dawna Friesen surveyed that "total contrast in culture and climate" as Sweden prepares to grant political asylum to 20,000 Iraqi war refugees this year, almost all of whom paid smugglers to guide them to safety. Fees range from $10,000 to $50,000. Given that price "most people are middle class and educated." For ABC's A Closer Look, Bob Woodruff contrasted the plight of refugees nearer home, in Syria and Jordan. Damascus has an open door policy, yet refuses work permits and ownership of property: "Most are surviving on whatever savings they have." Amman says "economic and security concerns have forced them to tighten borders" with men under age 40 "virtually shut out."

On Monday, NBC's Martin Fletcher lamented how kidnapping threats prevented him from reporting from the Gaza Strip. So "surprise" was the reaction by his colleague Tom Aspell when he walked through the tunnel at the Israeli border and found "no more masked Hamas gunmen. Instead the fighters are now wearing police uniforms." Marketplaces were crowded with "plenty of local fruits and vegetables." United Nations monitors warned that shortages of imports, such as toiletries and medicines, will soon be seen. "But right now, Hamas is in charge--and totally hostile to Israel and the United States."

Rounding out regional coverage, CBS' Logan offered another follow-up to Monday's Exclusive on the abandoned boys at a Baghdad orphanage. "It is obvious how much better off" they are now at a second home, where the soldiers who rescued them came to visit. "The plight of these boys has outraged Iraqis with excerpts of our report aired constantly on local TV." Logan showed us clips from both al-Arabiyah TV and al-Sharqiyah TV that have forced the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs to speak out. "He lashed out at the United States calling America 'Iraq's enemy.'" The minister claimed that "these boys are perfectly healthy and our report was a lie."

ON THE BORDERLINE NBC dispatched Brian Williams to anchor from the Texas-Mexico border: he started the newscast in El Paso and ended it Juarez. NBC's lead was Lisa Myers' expose of the black market in identification papers that eases illicit entry into the United States. She explained the two-part process. First, in Juarez, would-be immigrants rent "lookalike documents"--$500 for a green card, $400 for a passport. These are not forgeries but authentic papers, whose owner's picture sufficiently resembles that of the renter so that a customs officer will not notice the difference. Once inside the United States the renter returns the lookalike to its owner's associate. Then, visaless immigrants acquire the ID they need to find work. Myers sent Telemundo's Abraham Villela undercover to a black market in downtown Los Angeles and he was offered fake documents--driver's licenses and Social Security cards--five times within half an hour.

NBC's Don Teague showed us from the air that Juarez-El Paso form a single metropolis: "They are inseparable"--but not identical. El Paso "is among the safest large cities" in the United States with unemployment at a seven-year low. Juarez is "plagued by extreme poverty, crime and drug-fueled violence." The bridge crossing between the two cities is used by 17,000 pedestrian commuters each day and 6,000 vehicles, NBC's Williams told us, as he headed into Mexico. Customs controls mean that cars wait in line for an hour on average. Some Mexican children cross north each day because El Paso's schools are better, as NBC's Janet Shamlian told us last month. Some Texans live in Juarez "because the dollar goes further" when spent in pesos.

THEY SURVIVED Jonathan Tyrell and Art Wittner represented the pair of human interest stories that arose from yesterday's Story of the Day (text link), the furniture showroom blaze in Charleston SC that killed nine firefighters. Wittner was the lone survivor of the seven-member Fire Company 16. ABC's Steve Osunsami explained that as the engineer, it was Wittner's job to drive the truck and maintain the water pressure--so he was not inside the burning building when his comrades died. Tyrell was trapped in a small workroom at the Sofa Super Store. When the blaze started he tried to get out through the warehouse and saw "stacks of furniture three stories high on fire," as CBS' Kelly Cobiella put it. He retreated, called 911, waited for five minutes and was pulled out "just before the roof collapsed."

READ THE FINE PRINT The Environmental Working Group got publicity from both ABC and NBC for its study into the efficacy of some 750 sunscreen brands at protecting our skin from ultra-violet rays. It turns out that ultra-violet comes in two forms: UVA causes sunburns; UVB causes skin wrinkles and some skin cancers. NBC's Robert Bazell took a calm approach, advising us to look for brands with a high SPF level and the ingredients Mexoryl or Avobenzone. ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) was more exasperated as he ridiculed the hype--"waterproof, broad spectrum, ultrasweatproof"--on many of the bottles and instructed us to "scour the tube looking for ingredients." The secret formula is "diethylhexyl 2, 6-napthalate."

THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE "I told you you would not believe it," grinned a triumphant Charles Gibson after ABC's Nick Watt (subscription required) filed his profile of sculptor Willard Wigan from the English city of Birmingham. Wigan paints his statues "with a hair plucked from a housefly's back." Sometimes Wigan's figures fail. His version of Alice in Wonderland, for example, "disappeared. I think I inhaled her." He described the message of his art thus: "I am trying to prove to the world that nothing does not exist." Check it out. You will not believe it.

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 pair of examples: Tony Blair, soon to resign as Prime Minister of Britain, may take on the role of peace negotiator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority…the Department of Homeland Security will relax its passport deadline for overland travel from Canada and Mexico…the homicide rate in New Orleans continues to escalate…bullriding rodeo champion Jim Shoulders dies, aged 79.