CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 31, 2008
Sandwiched between a pair of California debates on CNN, the Story of the Day was the looming Super Tuesday Presidential primary. The top four Republican candidates confronted one another at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Wednesday night. The two remaining Democrats were gearing up for Thursday night's questions at the Kodak Theater, the home of the Academy Awards ceremonies. ABC and CBS both kicked off their newscast with a Hollywood preview while NBC opened with a Pentagon story instead. Yet the major impact of the day came from extended feature coverage. CBS devoted almost half its newscast to the scandal surrounding the death of Sgt Carmelo Rodriguez, aged 29, of the US Marine Corps.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 31, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailCBSMilitary medical malpractice lawsuits prohibitedFeres Doctrine nixes redress for melanoma deathByron PittsNew York
video thumbnailABCNFL Bills' Kevin Everett breaks neck in tacklePrompt treatment prevents paralysis, walks againBob WoodruffHouston
video thumbnailNBCActor George Clooney becomes UN peace diplomatSwitches from Darfur activism to conciliationAnn CurryUnited Nations
video thumbnailCBS2008 Super Tuesday primary scheduledDemocrats stage one-on-one debate in CaliforniaDean ReynoldsLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBC2008 Super Tuesday primary scheduledDelegates rules vary by state and by partyJohn YangLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBC2008 Super Tuesday primary scheduledMcCain has GOP endorsements, Romney has ad fundsKelly O'DonnellLos Angeles
video thumbnailCBS2008 John McCain campaignPicks up non-conservative endorsementsBill WhitakerLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCMilitary reserves, National Guard call-up extendedOverseas deployment undercuts domestic defensesJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailCBSSuspected al-Qaeda network leaders manhuntAssassination by CIA drone in remote PakistanDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCFormer President Clinton hosts philanthropy summitFoundation may have eased Kazakh uranium dealAndrea MitchellWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CLASSIC CRUSADING JOURNALISM Sandwiched between a pair of California debates on CNN, the Story of the Day was the looming Super Tuesday Presidential primary. The top four Republican candidates confronted one another at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Wednesday night. The two remaining Democrats were gearing up for Thursday night's questions at the Kodak Theater, the home of the Academy Awards ceremonies. ABC and CBS both kicked off their newscast with a Hollywood preview while NBC opened with a Pentagon story instead. Yet the major impact of the day came from extended feature coverage. CBS devoted almost half its newscast to the scandal surrounding the death of Sgt Carmelo Rodriguez, aged 29, of the US Marine Corps.

CBS' Byron Pitts filed a textbook piece of crusading journalism on Sgt Rodriguez. His camera crew was granted access to the man's deathbed just eight minutes before he expired. Pitts showed us the shocking before-and-after pictures of "that once-buff physique" of a "fit gung-ho platoon leader" reduced to an 80lb shell by melanoma. Pitts used Rodriquez' tragedy to illustrate the injustice of a 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres Doctrine, under which active duty military personnel are disqualified from filing lawsuits against the Pentagon.

Rodriguez had been diagnosed with a skin abnormality on his buttock in 1997 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. His physician neglected to recommend any follow up treatment. The so-called wart grew and by 2005, when Rodriguez was serving in Iraq, it was exuding pus. The physician in the field hospital did not treat him, advising him instead to have it seen to five months later when his tour ended. That delay was fatal. The melanoma spread. Rodriguez was forced into retirement. When he died the military did not even pay for his funeral.

Pitts quoted the military's own files confessing to "a major screw-up" yet the Feres Doctrine prohibits any legal redress for the apparent medical malpractice. Pitts concluded his report with a voice quaking with rage, a story that combined human interest, self-evident injustice, bureaucratic self-protection, a potential public policy remedy and the militant involvement of the journalist himself. A classic.


SAVING NECK, SAVING FACE NBC and ABC also filed impressive features, although without the wallop that Pitts delivered. In this Super Bowl week, ABC's Bob Woodruff filed A Closer Look at NFL player Kevin Everett, now walking again after a near-death injury on the playing field for the Buffalo Bills four months ago. A combination of swift emergency care, steroids to reduce swelling, saline solution to keep his body cool and surgery to align his broken neck prevented paralysis. NBC had Today's Ann Curry, an activist reporter herself on the Darfur crisis in Sudan, sit down with activist celebrity George Clooney. The movie star has been appointed peace envoy by the United Nations. Now he is a diplomat, Cooney confessed, he has to learn to be less confrontational and "save a little bit of face so you can get a negotiation going."


SUPER STATES TO WATCH The Democratic debate on CNN pits Hillary Rodham Clinton against Barack Obama, "the hottest ticket on Hollywood Boulevard," as ABC's David Wright (embargoed link) put it. "Sparks are expected to fly." CBS' Dean Reynolds assessed the horse race: "Obama may be behind in the polls but the numbers show him surging now. He continues to draw enormous and enormously enthusiastic crowds everywhere." This month alone Obama signed up 170,000 fresh donors and raised $32m, as much money as in any previous quarter. NBC's John Yang gave us a quick Super Tuesday primer, noting that the Democrats are more likely to have a split decision, since party rules assign delegates proportionately instead of awarding a state's entire delegation to its winner, as Republicans do in nine of Tuesday's contests. ABC's George Stephanopoulos gave us three states to watch as indicators as to whether Rodham Clinton is keeping her lead or whether Obama is maintaining his momentum--Missouri, Massachusetts, California.


LIMBAUGH STAYS OFF THE BANDWAGON John McCain "appeared much more comfortable in the role of frontrunner" in the wake of the Republican CNN debate, noted NBC's Kelly O'Donnell. CBS' Bill Whitaker called McCain's ticket "the hottest bandwagon in town" as Rudolph Giuliani's endorsement was matched by that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "that is two superstar endorsements from the two biggest Super Tuesday states." Mitt Romney still has "his cash advantage," however, noted NBC's O'Donnell and among conservatives, ABC's Jake Tapper (no link) observed, "the discontent remains" regarding McCain. Even though the Arizona Republican is "conservative on most issues," he is still resented for opposing tax cuts, supporting immigration reform and advocating action to curb global warming. Tapper offered this radio reaction from talkshow host Rush Limbaugh to the Schwarzenegger nod for McCain: "So he just got the endorsement of a big taxing, big spending, socialist healthcare, eco-extreme governor who says the Republican Party needs to follow him to the left."


ELSEWHERE… NBC's lead by Jim Miklaszewski covered a commission on the readiness--or "appalling" lack thereof--of the Pentagon's Northern Command to defend against "a catastrophic chemical, biological or nuclear attack here at home." The commission found that 88% of the National Guard is not ready for service…ABC's Martha Raddatz (embargoed link) reported from Camp Torkham in the Afghan Hindu Kush near the Khyber Pass that attacks by Taliban guerrillas have increased by 40% in the last year. "It means the insurgents are losing," Gen Dan McNeil "remarkably" insisted to Raddatz. "We had a wonderful year…we dominated the battlefield"…On the Pakistan side of the border, CBS' David Martin reported, an unmanned drone assassinated abu-Laith al-Libi, the most prominent al-Qaeda leader to be killed by the CIA in two years since hitherto "a lack of intelligence and concerns that strikes only inflame anti-American hatreds had led to a virtual ceasefire"…NBC's Andrea Mitchell followed up on reporting in Newsweek and The New York Times on the uranium deal between President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Frank Giustra, a Canadian energy tycoon. The deal was inked after Giustra visited Nazarbayev with Bill Clinton. Clinton "praised the country's widely criticized dictator" and hosted Giustra and a Kazakh official at his home in Chappaqua NY. Giustra contributed $131m to the AIDS program of the Clinton Foundation and flew Clinton to Kazakhstan on his own private jet: "All involved deny an quid pro quo." Clinton's aide told Mitchell not to take the former President's effusiveness too seriously: the praise "was only pro forma, being polite."


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: consumer spending increased by a scant 0.2% in December…epilepsy medication can have suicidal side-effects…winter weather closed Interstate highway traffic in Texas and Washington State…Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit made a public apology for humiliating his wife in an adultery scandal…when a tornado hit Evansville Ind it knocked WFIE-TV's weathercaster off the air in mid forecast.