Wall Street woes were the Story of the Day. The three networks were unanimous that the 311-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average should lead their newscasts. Only last Thursday, the average closed at 14000 for the first time; this latest decline leaves it at 13473.    
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video thumbnailABC
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NYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesDJIA falls 311 points on housing, credit woesBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailNBCReal estate housing market prices continue to fallBubble bursts in Miami condominium marketKerry SandersMiami
video thumbnailCBSReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseOutreach to help late payers avoid delinquencyHari SreenivasanTexas
video thumbnailABCAttorney General Alberto Gonzales under fireSenate testimony contradicted by FBI DirectorJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSNFL former player Pat Tillman killed in combatGenerals punished for friendly fire cover-upKimberly DozierPentagon
video thumbnailNBCIraq: State Department builds giant embassyHouse hearings into contractor's worker abuseAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSCuba politics: Fidel Castro is in ailing healthRevolution Day celebrations led by brother RaulKelly CobiellaHavana
video thumbnailCBSNASA astronauts suspected of drunken space flightsPair violated 12-hour pre-mission alcohol banNancy CordesWashington DC
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Airline travel: anti-terrorism security precautionsPassenger describes her detention for ice packsLisa StarkLong Island
video thumbnailNBCDeathbed patients diagnosed by nursing home catRI pet senses looming death, offers comfortLee CowanRhode Island
REAL ESTATE HOBBLES STOCKS Wall Street woes were the Story of the Day. The three networks were unanimous that the 311-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average should lead their newscasts. Only last Thursday, the average closed at 14000 for the first time; this latest decline leaves it at 13473.

There was a consensus among all three financial correspondents that a slowdown in sales of new homes was the economic statistic the precipitated the sell-off in stocks: "housing data much lower than expected"--CNBC's Maria Bartiromo; "fears that the real estate market is hurting more than previously thought"--CBS' Kelly Wallace; "home prices continue to fall and the glut of unsold homes continues to grow"--ABC's Betsy Stark (subscription required). In addition all three concurred that there are signs of a credit crunch. "Lenders are tightening their standards," was how CBS' Wallace put it while CNBC's Bartiromo expected that "the number of deals will slow down" and ABC's Stark saw that "the mergers and acquisitions behind the market's boom could be disappearing." What else? ABC's Stark thought the market had overreached and was "ripe for a fall." CNBC's Bartiromo heard people realize that "now it is time to take some money off the table." And both Wallace and Bartiromo cited the threat of a rising price of crude oil to economic growth.

OUT OF HOUSE & HOME Both NBC and CBS decided that the housing market deserved feature coverage in its own right, unconnected from the stock market. NBC studied the Miami condominium bubble In Depth as Kerry Sanders surveyed the city's 37 new high rise apartment buildings with 20,000 extra units coming on the market over a three-year period. "Vulture investors" are "circling for deals," picking up apartments that cost $250K last year for a snap at $199K. Meanwhile Hari Sreenivasan looked at the economic ripple effect of foreclosures for CBS' Real Estate, Real Solutions series. Combiner the adverse impacts on the evicted homeowner, the foreclosing lender, property-owning neighbors and tax collecting local governments--and Sreenivasan cited an average of $80K in lost wealth for every house that is repossessed. No wonder municipalities sponsor programs to help delinquent payers stay out of deeper trouble.

THE PARSER GENERAL None of the networks assigned a reporter to cover Tuesday's testimony by the Attorney General to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now ABC and NBC play catch up as four Democratic members of that panel cry perjury against Alberto Gonzales. They wrote a formal letter to his own Justice Department seeking the appointment of a special counsel to investigate him. "It has been a long hot summer for Gonzales," NBC's Chip Reid understated. Specifically, ABC's Jake Tapper told us, when Gonzales testified that "there were no serious disagreements within the Bush Administration" about the National Security Agency's wiretaps of citizens without a warrant, he was flatly contradicted by Robert Mueller, the Director of the FBI. Gonzales' explanation, Tapper explained, was that, yes, there was indeed a dispute--but it was "about different classified programs." ABC's George Stephanopoulos (no link) put it delicately when he summarized: "The Attorney General often parses."

GLOBAL UPDATE In overseas coverage, the networks filed a trio of follow-ups. NBC's Andrea Mitchell caught up on her June probe of First Kuwaiti, the Persian Gulf contractor suspected of using slave labor to build the United States' new $600m embassy in Baghdad. In Mitchell's update she noted that the State Department rejects the charges brought by whistleblowers and that First Kuwaiti itself calls them "spurious and unsupported." Congress is not convinced and today a House panel held hearings into the allegations.

The last time any network reported from Cuba was on May Day (text link) when the story was Fidel Castro's non-appearance at the annual parade because of ill health. Now CBS sends Kelly Cobiella to Cuba for Revolution Day--and the story is Fidel Castro's non-appearance at the annual parade because of ill health. The speech was given instead by Raul Castro: he "made it clear who is running the country." In the past year, he has "established himself as Cuba's leader and kept the country stable." It even seems he has been listening to the spat between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama over diplomatic outreach that NBC's Mitchell covered yesterday and ABC's Jake Tapper on Tuesday. Obama seems to have found a willing interlocutor: the younger Castro called any US offer of talks "a welcome change."

The Pentagon cover-up of the death in Afghanistan of former NFL football player Pat Tillman was followed by CBS' Kimberly Dozier. She reported that seven officers, including four generals, will be punished for concocting a false tale of heroism in battle when they knew that he had been killed by his own comrades, "a tragedy compounded by deceit," as Dozier put it. The punishments are unknown, they may involve demotion--stripping stars from generals--or letters of censure.

UPDATE: Dozier's videostream appears to have been removed from CBS News' Website after it was revealed that her report contained the wrong picture of one of the fabricating generals. Dozier showed us the face of Gen Gary Lee Jones to represent the guilty party Gen Gary M Jones. CBS anchor Katie Couric apologized next day for the error with sincere regrets.

LOOPED Both ABC and CBS covered the leak of a report by a NASA panel on astronaut stress. It revealed that two astronauts were reported as still inebriated from night-before drinking but went ahead into orbit anyway. CBS' Nancy Cordes gave a hat-tip to the magazine Aviation Weekly for its scoop: she reported that one drunken flight was with Russian cosmonauts on the Soyuz spacecraft, on which an astronaut "would basically be along for the ride;" the second was on a T-38 high-speed training jet. ABC's Mike von Fremd did not mention the magazine as his source. He said the two astronauts were on separate Space Shuttle missions.

INTERFAITH MISUNDERSTANDING The exploding cheese airline security story seemed overblown when NBC's Lisa Myers broke it on Tuesday. Now ABC's Lisa Stark (subscription required) confirms the hype by introducing us to one of the four passengers whose oddball carry-on prompted the Transportation Security Administration to speculate that a terrorist cell may be probing screener security with unassembled bomb components. Meet Sara Weiss, aged 66, of Long Island, returning from a visit to her son in San Diego with a pair of clay icepacks wrapped in tape to chill her bad back. Weiss heard Stark's report (subscription required) on the TSA memo yesterday and contacted ABC for a follow-up.

It may not have been just the icepacks that raised suspicion, Stark added. Weiss' job involves the promotion of interfaith understanding. So along with the icepacks was a written report entitled Muslim Americans. That combination was worth three hours of interrogation at San Diego Airport before she was allowed to fly.

TIME’S UP CBS and NBC both selected the story of Oscar the cat as its closing feature. And both saw the feline's role in sentimental terms. Oscar prowls the halls of the Steere nursing home in Rhode Island. On 25 occasions over the past 18 months, the cat has decided to curl up on the bed of one of the patients--and in each instance the bed has been a deathbed. "It is like clockwork," declared CBS' Richard Schlesinger. "Two to four hours before someone dies, Oscar shows up." The case has been written up by Dr David Dosa in The New England Journal of Medicine as an example of compassion and the cat has been cited by a hospice association for its benevolence. "Oscar is not so much a Grim Reaper as he is a comfort," NBC's Lee Cowan argued unconvincingly. What attributes has Cowan discovered about a beast that only arrives to announce that one is at death's door--and stays away the rest of the time--that do not belong to that self same Reaper?

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: Ford Motors stopped losing money according to its latest quarterly profits report…Andrew Speaker, the notorious tuberculosis patient, is no longer held in quarantine…Michael Nifong, the former District Attorney of Durham NC, admitted that his failed prosecution of a trio of lacrosse players for rape was baseless.