CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 25, 2008
After three straight days of economic headlines, the Presidential election campaign returned as Story of the Day. The week started with the run-up to the Republicans' primary in Florida. It ended ahead of Saturday's Democratic contest in South Carolina. CBS and ABC--anchored by Charles Gibson's substitute George Stephanopoulos--both led from the state. NBC chose a visually compelling, but ultimately inconsequential, hotel fire on the Las Vegas Strip. A blaze broke out in the facade atop the 32-story Monte Carlo Casino but all the rooms were successfully evacuated and no one was harmed.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 25, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBC2008 South Carolina primaryEdwards gains as white support for Obama erodesLee CowanSouth Carolina
video thumbnailCBS2008 South Carolina primaryFormer President Clinton denies stump excessesJim AxelrodSouth Carolina
video thumbnailCBS2008 Florida Republican primaryMcCain and Romney vie for leadership mantleByron PittsMiami
video thumbnailABC2008 Florida Republican primaryGiuliani pinned hopes on state, will likely loseJake TapperMiami
video thumbnailNBC2008 tactics: role of candidates' kin surveyedEdwards daughter, Romney sons on campaign trailMaria MenounosFlorida
video thumbnailABCStock trading fraud exposed at Paris bankSociete Generale sales spurred wider lossesJim SciuttoParis
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesUS seeks permanent independent role, base accessRichard EngelBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSSuspected al-Qaeda network leaders manhuntPakistan base may run European terrorist cellsDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSLiteracy programs for childrenDid Voyager pay kickbacks to Sen Mary Landrieu?Sharyl AttkissonCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCLas Vegas Strip fire forces hotel evacuationMonte Carlo Casino facade blaze, everybody safeGeorge LewisLos Angeles
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
RACIAL CODES IN SOUTH CAROLINA After three straight days of economic headlines, the Presidential election campaign returned as Story of the Day. The week started with the run-up to the Republicans' primary in Florida. It ended ahead of Saturday's Democratic contest in South Carolina. CBS and ABC--anchored by Charles Gibson's substitute George Stephanopoulos--both led from the state. NBC chose a visually compelling, but ultimately inconsequential, hotel fire on the Las Vegas Strip. A blaze broke out in the facade atop the 32-story Monte Carlo Casino but all the rooms were successfully evacuated and no one was harmed.

The looming South Carolina vote was covered from the perspective of each major Democratic contender. NBC's Lee Cowan brought us the perverse--and implicitly bigoted--insight that Barack Obama's "commanding lead" might be bad news since it "could actually be costing him votes elsewhere." His argument was that the unprecedented enthusiasm Obama is inspiring from the state's African-Americans may alienate some white voters. I say "bigoted" because Cowan's reporting assumed that a significant numbers of white voters are so racist that they would never back a candidate who attracts enthusiastic black support.

ABC's David Muir (embargoed link), covering the John Edwards campaign, shared Cowan's insinuation, speculating that Edwards would benefit from white voters alienated as the contest became "racially polarizing." Muir was clear, however, that the polarization was the work of neither Obama nor Edwards. Muir quoted the Associated Press, without contradiction, in its fortunetelling conclusion that Hillary Rodham Clinton "won South Carolina--not the primary but in how her campaign has portrayed Obama as the black candidate."

Over to CBS' Jim Axelrod with the Rodham Clinton campaign. Axelrod did not refer to race relations by name. He just called Bill Clinton's campaigning on his wife's behalf "nasty…harsh…ignoring calls to dial back…agitated…irritated." Axelrod asserted that the Rodham Clinton campaign had failed in South Carolina: it "expects a double-digit loss" amid a "record turnout." Yet, referring to the performance of the Surrogate-in-Chief, Axelrod counterintuitively concluded that "as much as other Democrats, and not just Obama supporters, may find it distasteful, the thinking inside the Clinton campaign is simple: 'Hey! It works!'"

It worked, according to Axelrod, in the eyes of Republicans: "Judging from their attacks in their debate last night, she is the frontrunner."


REAGAN’S HEIRS The Republican race, too, was covered by a reporter on all three newscasts. Tuesday's Florida contest, it appears, is tightening into a two way race. None of the three reports even mentioned the name of either Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. ABC's Jake Tapper focused on Rudolph Giuliani--but only to note how far he had fallen since once riding high. "I have never heard you refer to yourself as an underdog before," Tapper told him. "Underdogs win," was the best spin the former mayor could put on things. Tapper concluded that John McCain is "clearly concerned only about" Mitt Romney. NBC's Ron Allen said Florida "seems to be a two-man race, between two men who are not close friends." CBS' Byron Pitts found the two "virtually tied."

If Bill Clinton is the former President who looms large over the Democrats in South Carolina, in Florida they refer not to Clinton's successor, the incumbent GOP leader, CBS' Pitts pointed out, but to an older role model: "No name is used more frequently in front of Republican audiences than Ronald Reagan."


NO JOKE For twentysomething human interest on the campaign trail NBC returned to Maria Menounos. Last week she profiled the daughters of John McCain and Mike Huckabee as they helped their fathers on the stump. CBS had Nancy Cordes file a similar feature last month about Sarah Huckabee and Meghan McCain and Cate Edwards. NBC's Menounos now follows up with her take on 25-year-old Cate, a Harvard Law School student who disagrees with her father about his opposition to allowing her gay friends to marry one another.

Menounos broke ranks by profiling the male offspring of candidates, too. fivebrothers.mittromney.com is the blog Mitt Romney's five sons run to publicize their father's human side. It is not clear why they bother. The best they could come up with for Menounos was this from brother Brad: "One of the funny things I have seen about my dad--he has actually got a tractor. We have a home up in New Hampshire and he gets out in his tractor and starts moving rocks, digging holes for no good reason…"--which was not actually funny.


CHAIN REACTION This heavy week of economic coverage was rounded out by another Hitting Home feature on CBS and a follow-up by ABC on Jerome Kerviel, the junior trader who lost $7bn of his employer's money in wrong-way stock market speculation. On CBS, Randall Pinkston told us that the climb in the price of an ounce of gold in the past three years from $400 to $900 has stimulated a new rush as ordinary people cash in their scrap household jewelry to be melted down and refined for sale as bullion.

ABC's Jim Sciutto reported that Societe Generale had to unwind Kerviel's positions on Monday as prices were already falling on global financial markets. Its massive selling helped push European stock markets down 6% in a single day while Wall Street was closed for Martin Luther King Day. So when the Federal Reserve Board cut its short-term interest rates to 3.5% Tuesday, that move could have been the final consequence of a chain reaction that was triggered by the secret gambling losses of a lone thirtysomething banker in Paris.


NO TREATY FOR PERMANENT BASES NBC's Richard Engel became the first correspondent on the nightly newscasts to cover the negotiations between the Pentagon and the Baghdad government over the future status of US military forces in Iraq. The negotiators told Engel in Baghdad that they expect an agreement to be drawn up in July. Engel's unidentified source on the Pentagon negotiating team told him that the US does not insist on permanent military bases in Iraq, something opposed by the Shiite politicians of Baghdad's Sadr City. Instead the US is content to have its troops stationed as guests on bases operated by Iraq.

However the Pentagon does insist on being granted three freedoms from Iraqi sovereignty by Baghdad: first, to operate independently against al-Qaeda guerrillas and against militias that are supported by Iran; second, to have the power to make arrests of Iraqis; and third, to have immunity against Iraqi prosecution of its troops or the civilian contractors it hires. Engel did not report on Baghdad's position in response, only that Iraq wants US troops to stay "mostly on their bases" and that their role should be the continued supply and training of domestic forces.

Engel's colleague Andrea Mitchell covered the response to the Pentagon's proposals on Capitol Hill. She found unanimity among Democrats that no such agreement should be drawn up before the General Election in November. There is a debate about whether any agreement should be merely administrative or have the binding status of a Senate-ratified treaty. Republicans "are lined up in support of the White House" in not wanting an easy withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Mitchell implied that Republicans, therefore, support a pre-election agreement that falls short of treaty status. But she did not spell that out. Presumably a treaty would ensure a more permanent US military presence than an agreement so perhaps opposition to an easy withdrawal implies support for a treaty instead. Mitchell reassured us that a debate on Iraq in this fall's election guaranteed.


NOW VOYAGER The Voyager Universal literacy program received $2.7m in federal funding for the public school systems in Washington DC and New Orleans. The funds were earmarked by Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sharyl Attkisson told us for CBS' Follow the Money. "There are mixed reviews on how well the Voyager reading program works," Attkisson conceded, while Landrieu styled herself as "an advocate for public education." Shortly after the earmark, Voyager founder Randy Best organized campaign fundraisers for Landrieu that ended up netting her $80,000. Best told Attkisson that the fundraisers were "completely proper and fully disclosed." Attkisson commented that Landrieu and Best "have had a mutually beneficial relationship for years."


ELSEWHERE… From the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin reported that the arrest of an alleged terrorist cell in Barcelona on suspicion of a plot against the city's subway system has raised alerts that cells in Germany, France, Britain and Portugal have been activated by al-Qaeda leaders based in the tribal territories of Pakistan…footage of the Monte Carlo Casino hotel fire on the Las Vegas strip was narrated from Los Angeles by both ABC's Miguel Marquez (no link) and NBC's George Lewis…NBC's Pete Williams told us that the FBI is being criticized for nominating only one of three Minnesota flight instructors for the State Department's $5m reward for tips against Zacarias Moussaoui, the confessed conspirator in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.


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: Hamas used a bulldozer to prevent Egypt from resealing its border crossing with Gaza…a Beirut police investigator looking into the recent assassinations of Lebanese politicians was himself killed by a carbomb…a teenager was accused of trying to hijack a Sowthwest Airlines jetliner using handcuffs, yarn and duct tape.