CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARCH 12, 2008
The Eliot Spitzer sex scandal reached its climax as he resigned as Governor of New York. His reputed trysts with call girls were never specifically acknowledged--he referred to "my private failings" in his three-minute public statement--as Spitzer was Story of the Day for the third straight day, chosen as the unanimous lead on all three networks. Also for the third straight day ABC and NBC had substitute anchors. Ann Curry, again, was in the chair for NBC. ABC used George Stephanopoulos. Missing from the networks' news agenda was international coverage. Only one report had, even vaguely, an overseas angle.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MARCH 12, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailABCGov Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) call girl sex scandalHumiliated, apologizes, resigns, may be indictedBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSGov Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) call girl sex scandalBank software monitored suspicious financesNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailNBC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignAdvisor Geraldine Ferraro resigns in race flapAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailABC2008 Presidential race Democratic delegates standingsResult depends on Pa, Mich, Fla, superdelegatesDavid WrightChicago
video thumbnailCBSUSAF AC-130 gunship fleet overdeployed in battleAging planes in Iraq, Afghan need maintenanceDavid MartinFlorida
video thumbnailNBCAir safety: aging jetliner fleet requires inspectionSouthwest Airlines grounds 44 planes for a dayTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailABCAuto safety: SUV rollovers accident dangersSimple roof strut strengthening saves livesLisa StarkVirginia
video thumbnailCBSSupermarket grocery food prices escalateWheat hikes impact bread, pizza, cereals, pastaCynthia BowersChicago
video thumbnailNBCTelevangelists accused of abuse of tax exemptionTampa's Without Walls ministry investigatedLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSChildren's book author, aged 12, is wheelchairboundShea Megale writes about her service dog MercerRichard SchlesingerVirginia
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
SPITZER DENOUEMENT, FOREIGN BLACKOUT The Eliot Spitzer sex scandal reached its climax as he resigned as Governor of New York. His reputed trysts with call girls were never specifically acknowledged--he referred to "my private failings" in his three-minute public statement--as Spitzer was Story of the Day for the third straight day, chosen as the unanimous lead on all three networks. Also for the third straight day ABC and NBC had substitute anchors. Ann Curry, again, was in the chair for NBC. ABC used George Stephanopoulos. Missing from the networks' news agenda was international coverage. Only one report had, even vaguely, an overseas angle.

For Byron Pitts on CBS the striking thing about the Governor's fall was that he was "forced to accept what he dished out for years--public humiliation." On NBC, Mike Taibbi called it "just a sad end to this part of the story and to a political career." When he said "this part of the story" he was referring to the statement by Michael Garcia, the federal prosecutor in the Emperor's Club VIP case, the escort service whose 22-year-old Jersey Girl hooker, an aspiring chanteuse, Spitzer apparently hired. "He made no agreement to forgo any criminal charges against him in exchange for his resignation." ABC's Stephanopoulos asked Brian Ross whether prosecutors were playing hardball: "They absolutely are."

ABC's Ross pointed out that the moneylaundering rap that Spitzer may face were "laws he once championed." CBS had Nancy Cordes file a follow up on the software banks use to analyze transactions so they can generate Suspicious Activity Reports. Each year the Internal Revenue Service is alerted a million or so times. Banks put new customers, international customers and those with past suspicious patterns under special scrutiny as well as PEPs--Politically Exposed Persons. "As a Governor and former Attorney General, Spitzer would have known better than anyone that he was a PEP and therefore his financial dealings would be an open book."


GERALDINE FARRAGO Geraldine Ferraro was Topic A on the campaign trail as she resigned from her fundraising role for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Walter Mondale's Vice Presidential nominee was on the defensive for saying that Barack Obama "happens to be very lucky to be who he is" in explaining that if "he was a white man he would not be in this position." Obama called Ferraro's evaluation "ridiculous and wrongheaded." NBC's Andrea Mitchell quoted Obama's thought experiment on her network's Today: "If you were to get a handbook on what is the path to the Presidency, I do not think that the handbook would start by saying be an African-American named Barack Obama." On CBS, Dean Reynolds used a different soundbite: "I do not think my name or my skin color would be in the asset column."

NBC's Mitchell worried that "race has begun to divide Democratic voters" citing exit poll results from Tuesday's Mississippi primary that showed the victor Obama winning with almost unanimous support from African-American voters but with less than half of the white vote. This is tendentious reporting from Mitchell. Who could imagine Mississippi as a bellwether for the state of race relations? As Mississippi goes, so goes the nation!

Ferraro herself appeared for an interview with Ann Curry on NBC Nightly News, taking airtime to explain herself while simultaneously insisting that she resigned from Rodham Clinton's campaign "because I wanted to get this off the news." Earlier in the day Ferraro appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and in both interviews she characterized the Obama campaign's criticism as of her character, denouncing her as "racist," rather than of her comments, calling them "ridiculous." None of the networks cited an instance of the "racist" rap, which made it seem as though Ferraro was invoking a straw man.

In her explanation to NBC's Curry, Ferraro went further. She defended her initial comment about Obama's luck as a way of congratulating him on running an "historic campaign." She accused the Obama campaign of initiating the controversy--"they started it"--by publicizing the newspaper account of her remarks about Obama's race. She characterized Obama's aides as "playing the race card…they should apologize to me for calling me a racist."

It is sloppy reporting to leave that "racist" question ambiguous. Was Ferraro accurate in quoting such an accusation or was she misleading us in inflammatory fashion?


TABULA RASA On ABC, David Wright previewed the Democratic Party's primary contest "now the frenetic pace slows down." He looked forward to the "blank slate" of Pennsylvania, six weeks away, "that gives both candidates the opportunity to frame the race in a new way." Wright predicted that each would work on "appearing Presidential, minimizing mistakes and projecting a winning image" because they are not only trying to win delegates from Pennsylvania but superdelegates too. As for the other two outstanding large states--Michigan and Florida--Wright reported that it is "inevitable" that a compromise will be reached to seat the delegations at the Denver convention.

NBC looked beyond the primaries to the General Election as Tim Russert announced the topline of his network's latest opinion poll. It shows a huge difference between the standing of Republicans as a generic party--losing to a generic Democrat in November by a landslide 15%--and John McCain himself, in a statistical dead heat with either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama. Russert reported that Democrats believe the former number is more realistic because dissatisfaction with the national economy is at its greatest since 1992: "Remember that campaign--It's The Economy, Stupid."


SHOOT ‘EM UP The day's only--sort of--overseas story was an Exclusive by David Martin, CBS' Pentagon correspondent…sort of, because he actually filed it from Florida. Hurlburt Field is the USAF training range for the AC-130, the so-called flying tank that provides air cover for commando raids in Iraq and Afghanistan. Martin called the gunship "a prop plane in a jet age and an ungainly one at that." The workhorse planes are being deployed so heavily during nighttime raids by special forces in those two wars that premature cracks are appearing in the fleet's wings, requiring replacement five years ahead of schedule. For every hour of flying the propeller planes require 14 hours of maintenance. Martin took a flight to show off the AC-130's firepower: first the 40mm cannon jammed…then the 105mm automatic howitzer failed to fire…but finally the "fearsome" 25mm Gatling gun blew away its target, firing flawlessly at 1,800 rounds per minute.


SKIN INSPECTION The other aging airplanes to make news belonged to Southwest Airlines. In the aftermath of whistleblowers' expose of what ABC's Mike von Fremd (embargoed link) called a "relaxed culture" of maintenance that led to a $10m FAA fine, 44 of Southwest's fleet of 520 Boeing 737s were grounded for the day for an inspection for metal fatigue in their outer skin. The inspection caused the cancelation of 4% of Southwest's schedule, NBC's Tom Costello calculated, this for an airline "that prides itself on ontime arrivals," as von Fremd put it.


ELSEWHERE… The soaring price of a bushel of wheat on commodity markets has inspired the bakery industry to lobby the federal government to relax land conservation rules and to permit environmentally protected property to be used for agriculture, CBS' Cynthia Bowers reported…a simple $50 strengthening of the roof supports on Sports Utility Vehicles could save more than 200 lives annually in rollover accidents, researchers from the auto insurance industry told ABC's Lisa Stark…NBC's Investigation followed a Senate probe into financial abuses by televangelists: Lisa Myers outlined questionable fundraising and bookkeeping at the Without Walls International Church of Tampa Bay. Pastors Randy and Paula White stated that "to the best of our knowledge we comply with all tax laws"…Marvelous Mercer by Shea Megate is the children's book given free publicity by CBS' dogloving Richard Schlesinger. Mercer is a dog who is Megate's "muse, her hero if you will, a central character in both of her lives, real and imaginary." Megate, aged twelve, is wheelchairbound with a paralyzing atrophy of the spine. The real life Mercer is her service animal.


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 rocket attack outside the Iraqi town of Nasariyah killed three GIs…the cost of a barrel of crude oil rose again, to more than $109…the Environmental Protection Agency published new regulations on levels of atmospheric smog…animal cruelty exposed by undercover Humane Society videotapes at the Westland Hallmark slaughterhouse was conceded by its management…restrictions on sales of over-the-counter cold medicine have succeeded in curbing methamphetamine production…the Intel high school science fair competition was won by a colon cancer researcher.