CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 14, 2008
The only explanation for the selection of a local breaking news event from the Chicago suburbs as the Story of the Day was that it reminded the national networks of last year's calamity at Virginia Tech. The details of the violence on the campus at Northern Illinois University were still sketchy at the news hour. A gunman had shot up a lecture hall, injuring 15-or-so students and killing himself. None of the networks had information of any further fatalities apart from the suicide. Nevertheless, each newscast decided to choose the campus shooting as its lead.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 14, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCNorthern Illinois University campus shooting spreeSuicidal gunman opens fire in lecture hallBarbara PintoChicago
video thumbnailCBSSpy satellite to fall out of orbit, crashUSNavy plans to fire missile to destroy itDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABCNational Security Agency eavesdrops on citizensHouse refuses to vote to renew authorizationJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailCBSFEMA housing trailers have toxic indoor airCDC warning on formaldehyde, relocation orderedByron PittsNew York
video thumbnailNBC2008 John McCain campaignEndorsed by Romney despite acrimony on stumpKelly O'DonnellBoston
video thumbnailABC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignUrges debates, denigrates efficacy of oratoryKate SnowOhio
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignWife Michelle reacts to experience questionsKatie CouricChicago
video thumbnailNBCCongo civil war continues: death toll 5.5mTeenage boys forced by militias to take up armsAnn CurryCongo
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesViolence wanes in year since troop surge beganClarissa WardBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCCoastal waters conservation, pollution problemsWarming, fishing, ships harm marine ecosystemsAnne ThompsonBoston
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
SHADES OF VIRGINIA TECH ON ST VALENTINE’S DAY The only explanation for the selection of a local breaking news event from the Chicago suburbs as the Story of the Day was that it reminded the national networks of last year's calamity at Virginia Tech. The details of the violence on the campus at Northern Illinois University were still sketchy at the news hour. A gunman had shot up a lecture hall, injuring 15-or-so students and killing himself. None of the networks had information of any further fatalities apart from the suicide. Nevertheless, each newscast decided to choose the campus shooting as its lead.

"Terrified students hid behind the stadium seating and crawled into the hallway to safety," narrated ABC's Barbara Pinto. CBS anchor Katie Couric interviewed one of them, a student who identified herself only as Katie: "I just immediately dropped down to the ground and started crawling on the ground, pulling myself up toward the back of the classroom toward the exit." CBS' Cynthia Bowers gave good grades to campus security: "Most students say university police and school officials responded quickly and were on the scene within minutes and the university's Website had a yellow alert." NBC's Kevin Tibbles offered a cursory tick-tock, showing the online alert at 3:20pm and the all clear at 4:14pm.


ALL ABOUT THE HYDRAZINE Both ABC and CBS had lined up the Pentagon's plan to shoot down USA 193 as its lead before Northern Illinois intervened. USA 193 is a malfunctioning spy satellite that is falling out of orbit. The USNavy proposes to destroy it at the height of 150 miles with a missile from an Aegis cruiser before it falls to Earth. CBS' David Martin covered the ostensible rationale for the missile shot, to evaporate 1,000lbs of hydrazine fuel that might be toxic if the tank crashed into the ground intact before splitting apart. NBC's skeptical Jim Miklaszewski offered another possible explanation: "It is Star Wars all over again." The Pentagon may want to show off its "gee-whiz" missile defense technology. ABC's skeptical Jonathan Karl (embargoed link) theorized that the two-year-old 5,000lb USA 193 was so filled with highly-classified advanced reconnaissance gear that the Pentagon wanted to destroy it in outer space so that it would not fall into the hands of Russia or China.


TELECOM IMMUNITY Only ABC assigned a reporter to cover the day's other big espionage story. Jake Tapper told us about the brinksmanship on Capitol Hill over the National Security Agency's program to wiretap online and telephone communications without a warrant. Tapper reminded us that last summer "the White House rolled Democrats in Congress" when the NSA was allowed to go warrantless. That permission runs out on Saturday. "House Democratic leaders refused to bring up the bill because they know it will pass." It was not the eavesdropping per se that was the sticking point. It was the favor the bill would grant the likes of Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. Those telecoms firms face as many as 40 lawsuits because they handed secrets over to the spooks when they should have required a warrant. President George Bush insists they be granted retroactive immunity. The Senate agrees. But the House of Representatives refused to go along.


KETEYIAN VINDICATED Starting from last May, CBS has owned the FEMA trailer story. Armen Keteyian launched an Investigation into the formaldehyde fumes that turn their indoor air toxic. The emergency housing is still used by some 38,000 families along the Gulf Coast, displaced by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005. Keteyian was not around for the denouement as the Centers for Disease Control published its test results that the carcinogenic fumes were 35 times heavier in the trailers than in new homes. His colleague Byron Pitts covered the news that the trailer dwellers will be relocated, as did Ron Mott on NBC and David Kerley (embargoed link) on ABC.

ABC's Kerley called it a "colossal and expensive embarrassment." The trailers had been used in the first place to get evacuees "out of more expensive hotels and motels." So with this new health warning, where will they go to now? Motels and hotels, was FEMA's reply. "Whatever housing is available is typically very expensive," NBC's Mott pointed out from New Orleans. CBS' Pitts looked at the three hardest hit coastal counties of Mississippi where 6,000 families are housed in trailers. Together their stock of available apartments for rent totals 300 units.


RIVALRY & INFIGHTING Republican John McCain took one more step towards putting the primary campaign behind him. He received the formal endorsement of his onetime contender Mitt Romney. "That is expected to put more pressure on Mike Huckabee to get out of the race," CBS' Chip Reid predicted. The two "now former bitter rivals stood stiffly side by side" at their joint press conference in Boston, observed ABC's Ron Claiborne (embargoed link). He replayed a soundbite of the two locking horns: "You can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads but it still will not be true," McCain had snapped. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell called it an end to "a fierce contentious rivalry."

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, on the other hand, have yet to make peace. Referring to his oratory, she was scornful: "Words are cheap," she argued. "Speeches do not put food on the table." She complained about his reluctance to debate: "Maybe he would prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions." If neither candidate can produce a majority of delegates before the convention, unidentified party insiders told NBC's Andrea Mitchell that "the only Democrat with enough clout" to resolve the deadlock is Al Gore. ABC's Kate Snow's unnamed inside sources reported "frustration" and "infighting" between Rodham Clinton's strategist Mark Penn and her advertising guru Mandy Grunwald. Grunwald produced a spot showing a skydiver to illustrate the idea that the economy could be in free fall. "Your ad does not work. The execution is all wrong," Penn protested. Grunwald fired back: "The problem is your message."


WHAT A TRIP While ABC anchor Charles Gibson was on the road in Washington for the tribute to his late colleague John McWethy, CBS' anchor Katie Couric aired the first half of her two-part sitdown with Michelle Obama in Chicago. Couric called it an Exclusive even though the 44-year-old would-be First Lady has hardly been shy about press availability. She sat down with ABC's Deborah Roberts (embargoed link) just last week and NBC's Janet Shamlian last year. Anyway Couric questioned Michelle in her capacity as Barack's surrogate rather than about her in her own right. Is Obama too messianic? Inexperienced? Unschooled in foreign policy? Unreassuring? Humble enough? "Do you ever look at your husband and does he ever look at you and do you say: 'Can you believe this!'?" "Yes, yes. It is probably once a week now. Yes, absolutely. This is a trip!"


BOY VETERANS ABC took A Closer Look at one war zone and NBC went In Depth to another and the news from Iraq and Congo could not have been more contrasting. ABC's Clarissa Ward saw Gen David Petraeus wandering round a market in Baghdad "no body armor, no helmet" just one year after the so-called surge of troop reinforcements was launched. In that time Ward quoted US military statistics that violence in Iraq has fallen by 60%. NBC's Ann Curry was in Goma in eastern Congo visiting a UNICEF center for veterans of the civil war. She introduced us to Gabriel, aged 16, abducted from his classroom two years ago, armed with an automatic weapon and forced onto the front lines on pain of death. Pascal enlisted in an opposing militia at age 13 for a monthly wage of $25. "The boys bonded over their battle experience but one day Gabriel and Pascal realized something they had never imagined. They had been on opposing sides in the same battles."


NO TEA PARTY NBC publicized a study from the journal Science for its environmental Our Planet series. Anne Thompson warned us that marine ecosystems are degrading worldwide from a combination of factors: agricultural, industrial and urban pollution; warming waters and changing sea chemistry; overfishing; and dangers to marine mammals from shipping. Overlooking Boston Harbor, Thompson named the worst three seas in the world: the Sea of Japan, Europe's North Sea and the northeast Atlantic coast of the United States.


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: median home prices declined in every real estate market nationwide in the final quarter of 2007…funerals were held for Congressman Tom Lantos, journalist John McWethy and Imad Mugniyah of Hezbollah…mass weddings were held in Los Angeles in celebration of St Valentine.