CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 17, 2008
What a fun day of news! Tyndall Report appreciates it when the nightly newscasts take on the pharmaceutical industry. We have to sit through so much Big Pharma advertising that it is always fun to see network journalists biting the hand that feeds them. Both ABC and CBS did the job today. NBC showcased its new one-person digital reporting unit as Mara Schiavocampo offered eyecatching visuals of the bald Hindu devotees of Venkateswara. And CBS closed with priceless scenes from old school Sesame Street. As for the Story of the Day, all three networks led with the prospect of a check in the mail for every American as Congress seems certain to approve a fiscal stimulus package.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 17, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCEconomy expansion slows: recession risks assessedStimulus package recommended by Fed's BernankeDavid GregoryWhite House
video thumbnailCBS2008 South Carolina primary previewedConfederate flag, Vietnam War record flapsNancy CordesSouth Carolina
video thumbnailABCPhilanthropy and charitable donation trendsHouse hearings into diversion of veterans' fundsBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailNBCBritish Airways 038 crash lands at Heathrow AirportBoeing 777 landed short of runway, all survivedTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSInternet Websites used to incite terroristsMonitor online recruiting, training, deploymentBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailABCPrescription drug Zetia efficacy problemsNegative research released two years after studyJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailCBSPrescription drug statins overuse investigatedTaken even by those with low heart disease riskJon LaPookNew York
video thumbnailABCAbortion incidence declinesMore contraceptives available, fewer clinicsDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailNBCHindu worshippers of Venkateswara shave headsCosmetic hair extensions raise funds for templeMara SchiavocampoNew York
video thumbnailCBSTV children's show Sesame Street celebratedOld School original programs were edgy, seedyRichard SchlesingerNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
THE CHECK MAY BE IN THE MAIL What a fun day of news! Tyndall Report appreciates it when the nightly newscasts take on the pharmaceutical industry. We have to sit through so much Big Pharma advertising that it is always fun to see network journalists biting the hand that feeds them. Both ABC and CBS did the job today. NBC showcased its new one-person digital reporting unit as Mara Schiavocampo offered eyecatching visuals of the bald Hindu devotees of Venkateswara. And CBS closed with priceless scenes from old school Sesame Street. As for the Story of the Day, all three networks led with the prospect of a check in the mail for every American as Congress seems certain to approve a fiscal stimulus package.

The stimulus was urged by Chairman Benjamin Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Board in his testimony to a House panel. ABC's Betsy Stark (embargoed link) summarized his criteria for an appropriate package as the three Ts--"timely, targeted and temporary." That means that President George Bush has been defeated in his attempt to include a permanent extension of his soon-to-expire tax cuts. He is "not expected to insist," said Stark…the White House will "no longer insist," according to NBC's David Gregory…it has "now backed away," as CBS' Anthony Mason put it.

CBS' Mason recalled the stimulus package of 2001 that cost $38bn and offered cash rebates of $300 to every adult. The total value of the stimulus visualized for 2008 is "between $100bn and $150bn," according to NBC's Gregory. Besides the rebate check, ABC's Stark anticipated that the legislation will include food stamps for the poor, extended benefits for the unemployed and tax relief for business. The stimulus "is not going to stop the train wreck" facing the economy. "All it can do is mitigate the damage."

CBS and NBC rounded out fiscal coverage with other sectors of the economy. On NBC, Erin Burnett of the CNBC financial news cable channel, updated us on the declining stock market, down 8% so far this year. The losses taken by Citigroup and Merrill Lynch in the past 48 hours are "twice as big as the entire economy of Iceland was all last year," she offered, using an imaginative unit of measurement. CBS continued its Hitting Home series about the impact of a looming recession on an average household. Kelly Cobiella relayed a financial planner's advice: "Everyone should have enough money set aside to get through at least three months without a pay check."


WHERE TO PUT THE POLE? NBC and CBS updated us on the South Carolina primary. CBS' Nancy Cordes called it "a rough and tumble affair" while NBC's Kelly O'Donnell warned it had "gotten dirty" with "ugly attacks" against Republican John McCain, accusing him of betraying his fellow prisoners of war during the Vietnam War while he was a guest at the Hanoi Hilton. "The attacks do not appear to come directly from rival campaign," O'Donnell reassured us. Southerner Mike Huckabee came up with "a surprisingly spirited defense of the Confederate flag," as CBS' Cordes put it: "If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag we would tell them where to put the pole." MSNBC completed an opinion poll in the state and NBC's Tim Russert offered us the highlights. Republican voters divide along religious lines, most evangelical Christians favoring Huckabee, most non-evangelicals for McCain. Democrats divide along lines of race: most blacks for Barack Obama, most whites for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her prospects would be yet stronger "if John Edwards were not in the race."


COVERING BIG PHARMA Susan Koeppen inquired yesterday for CBS into the two-year delay between the clinical trials into the cholesterol-lowering medicine Vytorin and the publication of the conclusion by Merck and Schering-Plough that its blockbuster seller did not work. Now ABC's John McKenzie too files A Closer Look. McKenzie told us that up until a few months ago it was legal for a pharmaceutical company to suppress negative research about its drugs indefinitely. The findings had to be reported to the Food & Drug Administration but the government had been required to keep them confidential. The only reason the Vytorin study saw the light of day was that "outraged" participating cardiologists went public when Schering-Plough tried to change the study design retroactively in order to massage the data into producing a success. A new law requires the eventual publication of all research, positive and negative alike--but "companies will have up to two years from the end of the clinical trial to report findings."

CBS' in-house physician Jon LaPook filed an investigation conducted with Business Week magazine into the $21bn-a-year statin industry, whose leading brand is Lipitor. "It is hard to ignore the ads," LaPook told his viewers, as if we needed to know. LaPook had no argument with prescribing statins to patients with heart disease or to those with high risk factors. His quarrel was with the millions who take the drugs, even though they are at low risk of a heart attack, just because their cholesterol levels happen to be elevated. Government guidelines advise against such a prescription but "that has not stopped the statin craze." LaPook offered the epidemiological data: if 100 people were to take Lipitor for three years, the total health benefit of popping all those pills would be to prevent a single heart attack.


OUR BODIES OUR SELVES Feminist causes were covered by NBC and ABC. ABC's Dan Harris looked at the plummeting incidence of abortion, using the current movie release Juno about the pregnant teenager who chooses adoption over termination as his pop culture reference. Out of every 1,000 teenagers and women of childbearing age, 19 get an abortion each year, down from 29 per 1,000 in 1981. Pro-choicers take credit, citing their efforts at sex education and making contraception available. Pro-lifers take credit, citing their efforts to get clinics to close and to locate crisis pregnancy centers next to the clinics that remain open.

CNBC's Trish Regan filed a story on the salary gender gap for NBC's series The Truth About Boys and Girls. A study by the American Association of University Women found that women earn 69c on the $1 compared with men doing the same job ten years after graduating for college. Even after controling for flextime schedules and childrearing absences from the workforce, the study still found a disparity of 88c.


I AM SHAVED Mara Schiavocampo's one-woman digital camera brought NBC images of temple barbers and straight razors performing the tonsor ritual at the Venkateswara Temple in southern India. The 18m pilgrims who visit the shrine each year outnumber those traveling to Mecca or to the Vatican. They allow themselves to be shaved bald as an offering to the god. The temple in turn exports the high-quality human hair to be used for extensions by western salons. Schiavocampo showed us a storage room for eleven tons of hair. The trade earns temple charities $18m annually.


SWEEPING THE CLOUDS AWAY Sesame Street is marketing its premiere season of children's programming in an Old School DVD series with the warning that the content is "intended for grown-ups and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child." Apart from the fact that the street seemed "too seedy" to CBS' Richard Schlesinger, what else was age-inappropriate? It encouraged children to explore building sites and to use rusty box springs as trampolines and to ride a bicycle without a helmet. Oh yes, "Gordon takes a little girl's hand, whom he just met on the street. He takes her into his home and gives her ice cream," narrated producer Sherrie Rollins Westin. And Gordon is no muppet.


ELSEWHERE… The Pakistani Army has abandoned a pair of frontier forts along the border with Afghanistan, leaving the region controled by rebels under the command of Baitullah Mehsud, ABC's Martha Raddatz (embargoed link) reported from Washington…the Combating Terrorism Center, based at West Point, has issued an alert about radical Islamist Websites. CBS' Bob Orr repeated the warning that "myspace-like social networking hubs" recruit, train and deploy militants. Yet the activity seems rather sporadic. In the whole of 2007, he reported, just 97 messages were posted online by al-Qaeda. Orr tried to make that scary by calling that "a record 97 messages" illustrating the number in a big bold typeface…Roger Chapin was subpoenaed to testify on Capitol Hill about the charity he runs. Help Hospitalized Veterans promises craft kits for casualties. CBS' Sharyl Attkisson and ABC's Brian Ross both publicized his record of spending only 25c of each dollar raised on the kits. Attkisson aired his "surprisingly candid" explanation as to why he does not publish that ratio: "If we disclose, which I am more than happy to do, we will all be out of business"…both ABC's Jim Sciutto (embargoed link) and NBC's Tom Costello covered the crash landing of a British Airways jetliner short of the runway at Heathrow Airport. "It is the first serious accident ever involving a Boeing 777," noted Costello, out of the 700-or-so in operation worldwide. None of the 152 on board was seriously injured.


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 Food & Drug Administration advises parents never to give over-the-counter cold remedies to toddlers…casino workers on the Las Vegas strip will be allowed to caucus at their workplace in Saturday's Democratic Presidential contest…the volume of applications to attend Ivy League universities has boomed since they canceled early admission programs…Richard Knerr, toy inventor and entrepreneur--think hula-hoop, Frisbee, Superball, Silly String--died, aged 82.