CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARCH 19, 2008
The Story of the Day was five years old: a survey of the status of the Iraq War on the fifth anniversary of that start of Shock & Awe. Altogether 40% of the three-network newshole (23 min out of 58) was devoted to one aspect of Iraq or another. President George Bush admitted that things had not exactly gone according to plan: "The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than was anticipated" although he insisted that "removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision and this is a fight that America can and must win." Only CBS led with the anniversary. ABC and NBC both kicked off with torrential rain and flash floods from Texas to Pennsylvania before turning to the five-year war.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MARCH 19, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPresident, protestors, polls mark fifth yearKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesCosts in dollars, deaths, casualties assessedJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailCBSIraq: post-war reconstruction effortsSecruity improves as social services are lackingLara LoganBaghdad
video thumbnailNBC2008 John McCain campaignMisspeaks, retracts on Iran, al-Qaeda in IraqKelly O'DonnellJerusalem
video thumbnailNBC2008 issues: Iraq War policyObama, Rodham Clinton offer rival pullout plansRon AllenWest Virginia
video thumbnailABC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignNational Archive releases First Lady papersBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailABCFloods in Mississippi River valley statesDeluge causes flash floods in MissouriBarbara PintoMissouri
video thumbnailCBSAirline industry in financial difficultiesHigh fuel costs force service cuts, fare hikesNancy CordesNew York
video thumbnailCBSWar on Cancer research effortsCyclotron proton beam therapy costs fortuneEmily SenayNew York
video thumbnailABCVancouver Winter Olympic Games of 2010 previewedWomen ski jumpers protest exclusion of eventBrian RooneyCanada
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
MISSION NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED The Story of the Day was five years old: a survey of the status of the Iraq War on the fifth anniversary of that start of Shock & Awe. Altogether 40% of the three-network newshole (23 min out of 58) was devoted to one aspect of Iraq or another. President George Bush admitted that things had not exactly gone according to plan: "The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than was anticipated" although he insisted that "removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision and this is a fight that America can and must win." Only CBS led with the anniversary. ABC and NBC both kicked off with torrential rain and flash floods from Texas to Pennsylvania before turning to the five-year war.

All three networks had their Baghdad correspondents file progress reports. NBC's Richard Engel found a "renewed sense of optimism" on the capital's streets over the past six months even though unemployment remains at 30%, electricity is unavailable 16 hours a day and two million Iraqis are still living in Jordan and Syria as refugees. On CBS, Lara Logan, too, told us that "the streets of many Iraqi towns and cities are calmer" and then told us one explanation. "It is often because they are now divided, ethnically cleansed." Her other explanation was that Gen David Petraeus "encouraged deals with both Sunni and Shiite tribal militias, even those with American blood on their hands." Petraeus told Logan that an average counterinsurgency lasts ten years--so he is probably half way home.

Terry McCarthy (no link) continued ABC's Where Things Stand series with profiles of three professional Iraqis: an emergency room physician in Baghdad now sees 85% fewer patients admitted because of violence than this time last year; a teacher in Basra is afraid to wear make-up or to walk the streets without a head scarf for fear of punishment by conservative Shiite clerics; and a former general of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard was forced to flee to Jordan in the face of threats from Shiite death squads.


COST OVERRUNS NBC had Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski run through the statistics of five years of war while anchors Charles Gibson and Katie Couric performed those chores at ABC and CBS. All three had 4,000 US military dead and 29,000 wounded. CBS' David Martin, meanwhile, filed from a memorial at Fort Campbell Ky where the names of the base's fallen in Iraq are etched in stone. As for the civilian death toll in Iraq, Couric offered 60,000 dead, Gibson 85,000, and NBC's Richard Engel in Baghdad a range of 85,000 to 600,000.

Both CBS' Couric and NBC's Miklaszewski contrasted the initial estimate of the total cost of the war--$60bn--with the current pricetag of $600bn and counting. ABC's Gibson proposed his six most memorable vignettes to summarize its five years: first Shock & Awe, then the Mission Accomplished speech, next the abu-Ghraib photographs, then the purple fingered elections, the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein--and Gen Petraeus' "so-called surge."

On NBC, Barry McCaffrey, a retired general and the network's in-house military analyst, used his airtime not to analyze but to advocate. "You had better fix the broken equipment of the USArmy in particular the National Guard. You have got to grow the force," he instructed Congressional appropriators directly in response to anchor Brian Williams' questions. "We have got to modernize our air power and sea power. That has been put in abeyance so the force is getting hollowed out. We are going to be in trouble five years from now if we do not have Congress step up."


THE POLITICS OF WAR NBC's Jim Miklaszewski consulted his unnamed "senior military" sources. They told him: "Significant numbers of US troops will still be in Iraq three years from now." On the campaign trail, Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton both used the anniversary to deliver speeches to remind voters that they disagreed with those brass. NBC's Ron Allen reported that Obama would start pulling out troops immediately upon taking office; Rodham Clinton would start after 60 days. Obama would complete the pullout in 16 months; Rodham Clinton "has not yet said how long a pullout will take."

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell was traveling in the region with Republican John McCain. Would he pledge "a dramatic reduction in the number of US forces engaged in combat in Iraq?" "Oh yes! Sure." What about McCain's thrice-repeated error that Iran is training al-Qaeda guerrillas? "I corrected it in my comment immediately," he reassured O'Donnell. She reflected that the mistake left McCain "to defend his expertise during a trip in which he intended to showcase it."

ABC's White House correspondent Martha Raddatz is also traveling in the region as part of Vice President Dick Cheney's entourage and anchor Charles Gibson replayed one delicious exchange. Cheney offered his assessment of Iraq: "There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better." What about the majority of Americans who state, in opinion polls, that the war was not worth the cost? "So?" "So you do not care what the American people think?" "No," Cheney answered. "You cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."


STUMP NOTES Away from Iraq, there were three other developments on the campaign trail. The National Archives released 11,000 pages of Hillary Rodham Clinton's schedule during her husband Bill's tenure in the White House. ABC's Brian Ross checked them for evidence to back up her claim of crisis-management experience in foreign policy and concluded that "many of her overseas trips were the standard First Lady tourist fare." CBS' Jim Axelrod covered Rodham Clinton's "quick trip to Michigan" to lobby for a second primary there so that her delegates could be counted at the convention in Denver: she "wants another big state primary win that counts." On ABC, George Stephanopoulos assessed the likelihood of a second vote as "between slim and none right now." Stephanopoulos was the only reporter to follow up on Barack Obama's headline-grabbing address on race relations on Tuesday. His Republican sources told him that Obama's controversial longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright has now become "a killer issue" making him, for the first time, easier for John McCain to defeat than Rodham Clinton.


FLYING IN FORMATION In an unusual coincidence, all three networks chose to run features on the state of the airline industry as fuel prices drive up fares and moneylosing routes are being axed by Delta, United, US Airways and jetBlue. NBC's Tom Costello warned that "good deals and good seats may be slipping away" and CBS' Nancy Cordes warned that "passengers may be faced with fewer choices." If there is a silver lining ABC's Lisa Stark (embargoed link) found it: "Fewer flights may mean less crowded airports--that is if you can afford to fly in the first place."


ELSEWHERE… The deluge that is causing rivers to flood in the Ozarks and has killed 13 people from Texas to Pennsylvania was covered by ABC's Barbara Pinto along the Big River in Missouri and CBS' Hari Sreenivasan along the White River in Arkansas. NBC had New-York-based Michelle Franzen narrate storm videotape while wearing a raincoat in Rockefeller Center…check out Emily Senay's fantastic Eye on Your Health feature on CBS. She advised that the latest radiation treatment for cancer can be delivered by a Cyclotron. It weighs 200 tons; costs $140m to build; stands three stories high; and accelerates protons down a beam the length of a football field to deliver therapy--"the most expensive device in medicine today"…"in their sleek outfits it is tough to tell whether a ski jumper is male or female," ABC's Brian Rooney pointed out but Olympic officials know the difference and they insist on continuing to make the agony of defeat sport for men only at the Vancouver Games in 2010.


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: the price of a barrel of crude oil has started to fall from its recent record highs…a firefighting crew had to be flown in from Texas to extinguish a blaze at an oil well near Knoxville…the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 293 points to 12099, erasing almost all of Tuesday's gains.