CONTAINING LINKS TO 51656 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 14, 2008
Michigan was in the spotlight thanks to a coinciding pair of scheduled news events. The Story of the Day was the final day of campaigning before Tuesday's Republican Presidential primary in the state, which NBC picked for its lead. Simultaneously the Detroit International Automobile Show opened, inspiring each network to offer an automotive feature. ABC made an extended effort, with a round-the-clock profile of Ford Motors' F-series pick-up truck assembly plant in Dearborn. The feature was part two of a January series The Real 24 for this month's expanded Monday newshole (24 min v CBS 19, NBC 19) courtesy of Pfizer, its limited commercial sponsor. Neither ABC nor CBS led with Michigan. CBS chose pharmaceuticals and ABC chose a laboratory experiment that transplanted live cells to revive a dead rat's heart.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 14, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBC2008 Michigan Republican primaryDebate dominated by state's economic recessionRon AllenDetroit
video thumbnailCBS2008 Michigan Republican primaryMcCain focuses on terrorism, Romney on economyChip ReidDetroit
video thumbnailCBS2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignRisks alienating support of African-AmericansByron PittsNevada
video thumbnailABCAutomobile industry in financial troubleFord's future hinges on success of pick-up plantChris BuryMichigan
video thumbnailNBCDetroit International Automobile ShowChina imports displayed, not yet safety readyPhilip LeBeauDetroit
video thumbnailCBSEnergy conservation and alternate fuel useNew sources include ethanol, landfills, hydrogenCynthia BowersDetroit
video thumbnailABCPrescription drug Zetia efficacy problemsCholesterol medicine fails to prevent plaqueJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailABCOrgans may be grown in laboratory for implantCell transplant revives dead rat's heartDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailNBCSaudi Arabia human rights abuses exposedFlaws in justice, religion, women's equalityLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCAntarctica polar ecology researchWarm ocean currents accelerate western icemeltAnne ThompsonNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
DATELINE DETROIT Michigan was in the spotlight thanks to a coinciding pair of scheduled news events. The Story of the Day was the final day of campaigning before Tuesday's Republican Presidential primary in the state, which NBC picked for its lead. Simultaneously the Detroit International Automobile Show opened, inspiring each network to offer an automotive feature. ABC made an extended effort, with a round-the-clock profile of Ford Motors' F-series pick-up truck assembly plant in Dearborn. The feature was part two of a January series The Real 24 for this month's expanded Monday newshole (24 min v CBS 19, NBC 19) courtesy of Pfizer, its limited commercial sponsor. Neither ABC nor CBS led with Michigan. CBS chose pharmaceuticals and ABC chose a laboratory experiment that transplanted live cells to revive a dead rat's heart.

The contraction of the Detroit automobile industry has turned the Michigan economy into a mess. NBC's Ron Allen pointed out that "one reason Michigan moved its primary to January was to focus the nation's attention" on its so-called "one state recession." ABC's John Berman (embargoed link) commented that when he followed the Republican candidates there from New Hampshire "it was almost like moving to a different country." So far this decade Michigan has lost almost 300,000 manufacturing jobs; its unemployment rate is 7.4%; and it has the nation's third worst rate of home foreclosures.

So Chip Reid's insight into the Republican race on CBS was acute. While Mitt Romney, the "successful businessman" touted programs to revive the auto industry, his rival John McCain was "true to his against the grain style." Not only did McCain insist that many of the state's jobs will never be restored, he did not even focus on the economy as the key to the primary. "He insists the transcendent issue in this campaign is still the War on Terrorism and nothing gets his supporters more fired up than his promise to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq."

Reid's insight may have been acute but his use of words was loose. Reid's formulation grants too much credibility both to McCain's facile elision of the Iraq War with the War on Terrorism and to his controversial implication that the primary mission of the US military in Iraq is to wage war against al-Qaeda.

An ABC News nationwide opinion poll showed how far John McCain was going against the grain. Since September, George Stephanopoulos told us, those identifying the Iraq War as the most important issue in the election have declined from 35% to 20%; those identifying the economy have increased from 11% to 29%.


MUCH ADO ABOUT A DREAM On the Democratic side, both NBC's Andrea Mitchell and CBS' Byron Pitts played catch-up with ABC's report by Kate Snow (embargoed link) on Friday about the introduction of racial history into the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. The only explicit reference to race by either turned out to be a comment by Rodham Clinton to FOX News Channel concerning Martin Luther King last week. NBC's Mitchell replayed it: "Dr King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Her words amount to a thin straw on which to base a controversy. Admittedly, NBC's Mitchell is accurate when she offered the correction that "historians of the period say King deserves the lion's share of the credit"--but even that is a long way from finding Rodham Clinton to be in error. Then, Mitchell narrated, "instead of apologizing" Rodham Clinton "blamed the Obama Campaign for distorting her remarks." Obama responded by calling the distortion charge "ludicrous." CBS' Pitts sat down with Obama to ask why not stop the back and forth. "It is more back than forth. This is strategy on their part…We are sort of entering the silly season in politics right now." ABC's George Stephanopoulos saw both campaigns "trying to tamp down this racial debate. They thought it was hurting both of them. They essentially declared a ceasefire." The Democrats debate in Nevada Tuesday night on MSNBC. "People here are more concerned about jobs than political bickering about race," Pitts concluded.

NBC's Brian Williams, anchoring from Los Angeles, hit the nail on the head when he cited unidentified "cooler heads" in the Democratic Party who called the spat "much ado about very little." But, then, if they are correct, it was inflammatory for Williams to assign Andrea Mitchell to turn it into a story.


BACK TO THE FUTURE The Ford Motors plant in Dearborn that Chris Bury toured for ABC's The Real 24 series is "the very complex where Henry Ford built his once-might empire." He showed us the very bridge where "70 years ago union organizers died battling company cops." The plant now completes the assembly of one pick-up truck every minute--more than 1,000 each day. And with Toyota gaining market share "the pressure is on." A line supervisor almost came to tears when she described having to move to Dearborn from Virginia because Ford closed the plant in Norfolk where she worked for 13 years.

The automobile industry in China manufactures 5.2m vehicles annually for domestic sale and export to Asian markets like Iran, CNBC's automobile correspondent Phil LeBeau told us on NBC. However its safety standards are not yet strong enough to survive American crash tests. Geely is one of the brands that has models on display at the Detroit Show. Expect imports to begin within five years.

On CBS, Cynthia Bowers covered the partnership between General Motors and Coskata, the alternative fuels firm. Yes, Bowers reported, cars may run on diesel or hybrid or hydrogen or electric or ethanol. Coskata says it can "make gas out of garbage" just like in the movie Back to the Future. "Within three years we should be able to use landfills to fill up."


FETTUCINE ALFREDO & GRANDPA ALFREDO Because so much of the network newscasts' income is derived from selling pharmaceuticals advertising and because so many members of their audience belong to the older demographic among whom medicine use is most frequent, it is imperative that they should cover prescription drug stories--especially ones that put the advertised brands in a bad light.

Thus anchor Katie Couric did the right thing on CBS when she personally led the newscast with the news that Zetia, an ingredient in the heart medication Vytorin, actually increased the levels of dangerous plaque in patients' arteries. Couric reminded her viewers which drug that was--the "heavily marketed" one with the "clever commercials." To their credit both NBC's Tom Costello and ABC's John McKenzie covered the research too. Costello credited its advertising campaign with helping Vytorin's makers, Merck and Schering-Plough, grab 20% of the $22bn anti-cholesterol market, with 800,000 patients popping the pill each day. McKenzie called Vytorin "among the most promoted medications" and raised the question of why it took so long for the results to be released. "The clinical trial was completed almost two years ago."


THE REPLACEMENTS Only ABC decided to assign a reporter to the dead rat's heart, revived in a laboratory, although the other two networks did mention it in passing. Dan Harris imagined that laboratory-grown organs could be the solution to sort of shortages we know about because we watch Grey's Anatomy: "They may be able to make all sorts of replacement organs--lungs, livers, kidneys--you name it" even though he warned "that could be decade or more."

So which will come first? Laboratory-grown organs? Or new episodes of Grey's Anatomy emerging from the brains of non-striking writers?


ELSEWHERE… Only ABC covered the law passed by Iraq's parliament to rehire some former Baath Party members as government bureaucrats. Hilary Brown (no link) filed from Baghdad…President George Bush continued his undercovered Middle East diplomacy with a visit to Riyadh. NBC's Washington-based Lisa Myers offered an update on the kingdom's lack of progress in restraining jihadist charities, modernizing its judicial system, allowing freedom of religion and emancipating women. The official Saudi line is that reform is happening "at a pace the King believes appropriate for a conservative society"…NBC's Anne Thompson stayed in New York to narrate arresting images of the Antarctic ice shelf melting into the ocean at the rate of one eighth of Lake Ontario each year. The clockwise current means that the ice is disappearing on the western side of the continent and along its American peninsula but not in the east.


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: a bomb attack on a luxury hotel in downtown Kabul killed six…an avalanche in Montana killed a pair of back-country skiers…Gov Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American Republican, was sworn in as Governor of Louisiana…myspace.com, the social networking Website, will tighten privacy and identification procedures.