CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 04, 2008
Super Tuesday was Story of the Day as all three networks kicked off their newscasts with the final day of campaigning before the multistate Presidential primary. CBS tried a new approach: anchor Katie Couric jettisoned coverage by her network's correspondents and substituted clips from her own one-on-one interviews with the five of the six extant candidates (sorry Ron Paul). NBC used a conventional approach with a pair of taped packages--an overview for each party's race. NBC anchor Brian Williams also secured an interview with Barack Obama but his scheduled q-&-a with Hillary Rodham Clinton fell through. ABC adopted a wheel format with reporters following the four leading campaigns (sorry Mike Huckabee), each filing from the stump. In all campaign coverage accounted for 60% (34 min out of 57) of the three-network newshole.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 04, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBC2008 Super Tuesday primaryDemocratic race sees late Obama surgeAndrea MitchellNew York
video thumbnailABC2008 Super Tuesday primaryRodham Clinton emphasizes healthcare on stumpKate SnowMassachusetts
video thumbnailNBC2008 Super Tuesday primaryRepublicans feud over conservative credentialsKelly O'DonnellNew York
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2008 Super Tuesday primaryMcCain is poised to clinch nominationRon ClaiborneNew York
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2008 tactics: role of candidates' kin surveyedObama's Michelle rivals Rodham Clinton's BillDeborah RobertsChicago
video thumbnailCBS2008 issues: economyRivals tout their abilities to revive growthKatie CouricNew York
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Federal budget FY09 unveiled: $3.1tr proposedHikes for Pentagon, Homeland, stimulus packageMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSInternet search engine Yahoo! takeover bidGoogle warns of Microsoft antitrust violationAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailNBCYear of the Rat celebrated in ChinaNew Year snowstorms cut off city of ChengzhouMark MullenChina
video thumbnailNBCNational Parks System popularity declinesNature Conservancy worries about outdoor apathyAnne ThompsonNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
TUESDAY IS GOING TO BE SUPER Super Tuesday was Story of the Day as all three networks kicked off their newscasts with the final day of campaigning before the multistate Presidential primary. CBS tried a new approach: anchor Katie Couric jettisoned coverage by her network's correspondents and substituted clips from her own one-on-one interviews with the five of the six extant candidates (sorry Ron Paul). NBC used a conventional approach with a pair of taped packages--an overview for each party's race. NBC anchor Brian Williams also secured an interview with Barack Obama but his scheduled q-&-a with Hillary Rodham Clinton fell through. ABC adopted a wheel format with reporters following the four leading campaigns (sorry Mike Huckabee), each filing from the stump. In all campaign coverage accounted for 60% (34 min out of 57) of the three-network newshole.

Whatever their format, all three newscasts chose the two-way Democratic race for their lead item. NBC's Andrea Mitchell found Barack Obama apparently "surging, even threatening to overtake Hillary Clinton in California, a state she once dominated." Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, is "losing her voice as her lead has evaporated in many polls." On ABC Kate Snow also noted the strain on Rodham Clinton: she called the race "exhausting" and found the candidate "hoarse from the strain of a grueling schedule." ABC's David Wright (at the tail of the Snow videostream), with the Obama campaign, saw less of an emphasis on California. He delineated Obama's strategy as "to win as many smaller states as possible to offset any Clinton victories in the big states."

ABC's Snow previewed Rodham Clinton's last minute appeal on primary eve, "a virtual town hall meeting on the female-friendly Hallmark Channel" coupled with a television advertising campaign showcasing "maternal images." In his political analysis, NBC's Tim Russert pinpointed the women's vote as key: "If Obama does not cut that gender gap and start tapping into the women's vote, he cannot win this nomination." ABC's political analysis focused on geography instead. George Stephanopoulos (no link) isolated Massachusetts, Missouri and California: "If Obama can win two or three of those states he is going to have momentum. He is already leading in money. I think he will be very hard to stop."


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS CBS' decision to rely on interviews rather than reporting failed to pay off in its Democratic coverage as anchor Katie Couric lobbed pedestrian horse-race style questions at the candidates. She asked both to comment on opinion poll standings, which allowed Obama to play the conventional expectations game--"I have no doubt that Senator Clinton is the favorite going into Super Tuesday"--and Rodham Clinton to play the faux-naive: "I do not pay a lot of attention to these. They go up. They go down. I think we have learned our lessons with New Hampshire…The only polling that counts is what voters actually decide themselves."

The questioning of Obama by NBC anchor Brian Williams used a different tack, with no more enlightening results. Williams offered a pair of talking points from the Rodham Clinton campaign, allowing Obama to dispatch them cleanly with well-practiced soundbites. On his failure to target Latinos directly as a voting bloc: "I think this myth that somehow Latinos are different from other folks and will not vote for an African-American candidate, I think that is the kind of, you know, old, race-based, politics that our campaign has rejected." On his potential inexperience when facing negative campaigning from Republicans this fall: "I promise you, if we get through this nomination, then we certainly will be battle tested, because I do not think my opponent in the Democratic primary has been going out of their way to take it easy on me."

Note how subtly "my opponent" becomes more than one person. It was not "her" way but "their" way she was not going out of.


WILL PRAIRIE CATCH FIRE? The Republican race finds John McCain "well positioned to win several key states" in the northeast, according to ABC's Ron Claiborne (embargoed link). In response, ABC's John Berman (at the tail of the Claiborne videostream) found Mitt Romney relying on "his 3C strategy"--a "respectable finish" in California; trying to "fan the flames of that conservative backlash" against McCain; and relying on "his money and superior organization" in those states holding caucuses not primary elections. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell summarized the Republican contest thus: "Who is the most credible conservative?" She found Romney playing "that word association game," repeatedly linking McCain with Rodham Clinton.

For political analysis, ABC's George Stephanopoulos (no link) again focused on geography and NBC's Tim Russert again on voting blocs. For Russert, the impact of the "prairie fire" in opposition to McCain from conservative radio talkshow hosts is key. If they are persuasive with the base, Romney stays alive; if enough conservatives support McCain, he wins the nomination. Stephanopoulos told us to look at the winner-take-all states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Arizona. If McCain wins there and picks up enough elsewhere to end the night with a 250 lead in the delegate count, then it "would probably be almost insurmountable." A lead smaller than 200 delegates keeps Romney in the race.


AD HOMINEM ATTACKS CBS got spicier answers from Katie Couric's questions of the top three remaining Republicans than from the Democrats. She asked Mitt Romney about his campaign's criticism of John McCain for lacking Presidential temperament: "I believe that my experience and leadership training, judgment, wisdom, temperament, that package together, would serve America well." Romney commented that he would like Mike Huckabee to get out of the race so he could be the "conservative standard bearer" against McCain, "but politics does not work out that way." Huckabee turned on Romney, calling him "arrogant and presumptuous" and teasing him for all the money he had spent: "My enterprise has obviously been more efficient because, for a fraction of the amount of money you have spent, we have about the same market share."

As for McCain, whose temperament had been questioned on Romney's behalf by Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania, he called Santorum "a defeated candidate for reelection who begged me to come up and campaign for him." McCain blasted Romney for his "inexperience and uneven performance" and lavished praise on Huckabee as "a very good and decent man and I admire him and I admire his humor and I think he has elevated the entire Presidential debate."


MEET MICHELLE Instead of interviewing the candidates, ABC sent Deborah Roberts (embargoed link) to Chicago to sit down with Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife. Roberts observed that both Democrats have "passionate spouses" quoting the "strident" label on Michelle and "scrappy and racially insensitive" for Bill. "That stuff has got to hurt a little?" Roberts asked. "You know it does not hurt when you win." Roberts inquired about identity politics and demographic-based voting. "What I am bothered by are people who say: 'I am going to vote for you just because you are black' or 'Just because you are a woman.'" "You do not want black folks voting for your husband just because he is black?" "No. No."


VOTE FOR ME Rounding out campaign coverage, CBS anchor Katie Couric piggybacked on her interviews with the five contenders to extend her Primary Questions feature format whereby she asks everybody the same question and then edits their answers together in one package. This time it was a conventional issues-oriented request for boilerplate: "Why do you think you are in the best position to fix an ailing economy?" The answers were no surprise. Who has…

…a track record of turning around enterprises in trouble?
…a belief in achieving prosperity from the bottom up not the top down?
…a history of cutting taxes and restraining spending at the birth of the Reagan Revolution?
…a history of job creation and budget surpluses as governor of his state?
…a specific set of policy initiatives to halt evictions from foreclosed homes and to generate new jobs?


YOU MISSED IT New York Giants fan Brian Williams, NBC's anchor, hailed his team's victory over the New England Patriots in the NFL's Super Bowl XLII as "one of the great games ever played, one of the great upsets in all professional sports." CBS' Byron Pitts and ABC's Charles Gibson both filed tributes: the former to Eli Manning, the quarterback who threw a crucial late pass; the latter to David Tyree, the receiver who caught it by jamming the ball onto the top of his helmet. As is often the case with copyright-challenged sports stories, viewers had to watch those stories on broadcast television. None has been posted online.


ELSEWHERE… The final federal budget proposal of the Bush Administration has been submitted to Congress. ABC's Martha Raddatz (embargoed link) found requests for major spending increases for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security; major cuts for Medicare and Medicaid; and annual borrowing of $407bn, which "does not include full funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan"…transportation in China is slowly being restored in time for New Year. The city of Chenzhou, population 4m, is still "virtually cut off," NBC's Mark Mullen found when he visited, with no electricity, no running water and no heat…Google has challenged Microsoft's $45bn takeover bid for Yahoo! on antitrust grounds, CBS' Anthony Mason reported…the Nature Conservancy, an environmental activist group, is worried that recreation in the National Parks and other outdoor areas is in decline. NBC's Anne Thompson covered research on the lack of hiking, camping and fishing--and very scenic were the visuals she chose to illustrate the trend, too. If outdoor recreation were as popular now as it was 20 years ago, there would be 80m more park visits each year.


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 pair of Palestinian suicide bombers infiltrated Israel, killing a woman in Damona before dying themselves…Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teenager who went missing while on vacation in Aruba, may not have been murdered; she may have collapsed and died with her body being dumped at sea…as planned, NASA beamed The Beatles' Across the Universe across the galazy to Polaris, the north star.