CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARCH 21, 2008
The Story of the Day was a unanimous selection. All three networks decided to lead their newscasts with the revelation that all three remaining Presidential candidate had their personal privacy invaded by the State Department. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apologized to Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain because the files that contain their passport applications had been opened improperly. Even though two contract workers have been fired for the violation and two others disciplined, it was not clear that any actual harm resulted from the intrusion.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MARCH 21, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBS2008 candidates' personal privacy invadedState Dept workers snooped into passport filesJim AxelrodState Department
video thumbnailABC2008 Barack Obama campaignEndorsed by former rival Bill RichardsonJake TapperWashington DC
video thumbnailNBC2008 political journalism trendsNewspaper cartoonist Mike Luckovich in fine formRoger O'NeilAtlanta
video thumbnailABCFloods in Mississippi River valley statesMeramec River rises in suburban St LouisEric HorngMissouri
video thumbnailABCGuns: firearms control regulations debateNYC ban on toy-style painting kits floutedDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailNBCMayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit adultery scandalRefuses to heed City Council's resignation callKevin TibblesChicago
video thumbnailCBSCredit broker links small borrowers, small lendersWebsite undercuts credit card interest ratesJohn BlackstoneSan Francisco
video thumbnailCBSWar on Drugs: teenage abuse of O-T-C medicinesGet high from dextromethorphan cough suppressantMichelle MillerNew Jersey
video thumbnailABCCancer patients' chemotherapy support effortsBee at Nevada church produces prayer quiltsCharles GibsonNew York
video thumbnailNBCGray whales conservation efforts off Pacific coastBaja California lagoon protected by fishermanMaria CelesteMexico
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
POLS’ PASSPORT PRIVACY BREACHED The Story of the Day was a unanimous selection. All three networks decided to lead their newscasts with the revelation that all three remaining Presidential candidate had their personal privacy invaded by the State Department. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apologized to Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain because the files that contain their passport applications had been opened improperly. Even though two contract workers have been fired for the violation and two others disciplined, it was not clear that any actual harm resulted from the intrusion.

ABC's Jonathan Karl (embargoed link) downplayed the seriousness of the offense: "There may not be much of political interest in a passport file anyway. It does contain where you were born and your Social Security number but it does not list all your travels." Hollywood celebrities have their files peeked into, too, Karl pointed out: "There is no evidence of political dirty tricks." CBS' Jim Axelrod took the opposite tack, offering a dire warning to the candidates: "Potentially vulnerable is your most sensitive information--tax records at the IRS, military records at the Pentagon, criminal histories at the Department of Justice." NBC's Andrea Mitchell took a middle ground, telling us that "privacy experts are alarmed" and that the files contain "a treasure trove of confidential information…that could lead to identity theft." Yet the State Department is guessing this is no more than "idle curiosity."


TURBULENT WEEK Barack Obama attracted attention from reporters on all three networks as the week ended with a "jovial rally--sorely needed by a campaign enduring tough headlines and dipping poll numbers," as NBC's Lee Cowan put it. The joviality arose from the endorsement of Obama by former rival Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico. ABC's Jake Tapper noted that it was Obama's speech on race relations on Tuesday that Richardson cited "as having meant a great deal to him." The endorsement included this call: "It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves." Tapper called that "a nudge towards the exit" for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

CBS anchor Katie Couric interviewed former Democratic operative Joe Trippi, now her network's in-house political analyst, about Rodham Clinton's chances for a late comeback to win the nomination. Trippi's calculus was that, assuming she wins in Pennsylvania in April, she must then win in Indiana and North Carolina in the first week of May: "The whole campaign may come down to that."

As for Obama's speech on race relations, Dean Reynolds (no link) checked on a new CBS News opinion poll, which measured "a corrosive effect" from the controversy surrounding the Rev Jeremiah Wright, his longtime minister on Obama's image as a national uniter. However, 70% of all voters polled said Obama's relationship with Wright has not changed their opinion of the candidate and 63% said they agreed with the precepts outlined in his speech. ABC, by contrast, went for the non-scientific approach, sending John Berman (embargoed link) to hang out in an Allentown bowling alley frequented by "retired steelworkers and prison guards" in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. Of the two dozen bowlers Berman spoke with, none had listened to Obama's speech, almost all had heard inflammatory soundbites from Wright's sermons and only one was even considering a vote for Obama.

Meanwhile for campaign fun, NBC sent Roger O'Neil to the offices of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to celebrate the editorial cartoons of Mike Luckovich. "Every four years it is candy store time for the twice Pulitzer Prize winner," exclaimed O'Neil. Luckovich likes John McCain because "he is, like, the cranky old guy"…Rodham Clinton because of Bill, the "big hound dog"…and Obama's "big ears, big smile and long face."


MERAMECWATCH The only other news event to attract coverage from correspondents on all three networks was a follow-up on yesterday's Story of the Day, the cresting floods of the rivers in the Missouri suburbs of St Louis. All three reporters were checking on the Meramec River, NBC's Ron Mott in Fenton Mo and ABC's Eric Horng and CBS' Hari Sreenivasan upstream from him in Pacific Mo. Horng saw waters rising overnight at the rate of six inches an hour. Mott worried about a low lying intersection in Interstate 44 that floods may close. Sreenivasan worried about the town of Valley Park and its newly finished $50m levee. The structure is designed to protect against 45 foot floods; the crest is forecast for 40 feet: "That is cutting it pretty close."


HIZZONERS The mayors of New York City and Detroit came in for national coverage. NBC's Kevin Tibbles told us that the Motor City pressure on Kwame Kilpatrick to resign over a financial-perjury-adultery scandal was not just coming from the City Council but even from an on-air commentary by an anchorwoman on WDIV-TV, the NBC affiliate there. In the Big Apple, ABC's David Muir told us about Mayor Mike's ban on paint kits that color handguns to look like toys. The Lauer Custom Weaponry novelty firearms firm in Wisconsin responded with its mocking Bloomberg Collection, a line of five candy colored pieces, one hue for each borough, with hizzoner's cartoon likeness on the barrel. Rose is for The Bronx.


CUT OUT The gloomy economic mood inspired a couple of quirky features. CBS' John Blackstone followed up on his colleague Anthony Mason's report last year on Websites that broker person-to-person loans, cutting out the middle man. A motorcyclist slashed his interest payments from 31% annually to 10% by financing the purchase of a new bike from a direct lender rather than using his credit card. Blackstone publicized prosper.com and lendingclub.com for deals. On ABC, Dan Harris Embargoed link) looked at the shrinking dimensions of a Cadbury's chocolate Easter egg and found that many brands are handling inflation by getting smaller at the same price rather than staying the same and charging more. Scott bathroom tissues, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Dial soap are all downsizing. Harris' advice: "When a product says New & Improved, check it twice."


TRY NYQUIL "It's called Robotripping, skittling, 'tussin or CCC," Michelle Miller told us on CBS. Miller has found the latest teenage craze on YouTube. Take up to twelve times the recommended dose of over-the-counter cough medicine and you will get high on DXM--the suppressant dextromethorphan--and then videotape yourself as you act stupid and upload. To achieve the correct dosage, Miller showed us calculator Websites, although she did not mention any by name, that reckon the size of the overdose required, based on each teenager's weight. "There is no safe way to get high," Miller insisted--but the high is cheap, legal, fun and easy to obtain.

By the way, I just played Miller's videostream and, believe it or not, the preroll advertiser was NyQuil!


IT IS THE END OF THE WEEK SO… CBS' weekending Assignment America focused on St Patrick's Day last Monday. A USMC platoon was treated to a weekend in Boston and a spot in the city's by Maureen O'Hare, the mother of a fallen comrade. Steve Hartman told us that O'Hare paid for the trip with the $20,000 bereavement benefit the Pentagon paid her when her 20-year-old son Walter was killed in Iraq…a quilting bee at the Central Christian Church in Henderson Nev makes prayer blankets--quilts inscribed with Biblical verses--to comfort cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. ABC anchor Charles Gibson made the Piecemakers his network's Persons of the Week. The bee has made 800 so far, "the hardest quilts they make are the smallest quilts they make because those are for the children fighting cancer"…NBC invited Maria Celeste of its sibling network Telemundo to file its Making a Difference weekender. Celeste introduced as to Pachico Mayoral, a Baja California fisherman turned environmentalist. Mayoral blocked the construction of a salt extraction facility in order to preserve the spring feeding grounds of the gray whale in the San Ignacio lagoon. The whales may be protected in Baja but fewer arrive each year and those that do are thinner than in days past: "The temperature of the water in the Arctic where the whales feed is warmer and the food they depend on is scarce."


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 People's Republic of China claims that no more than 19 people have died in the independence protests in Tibet… managers at Starbucks coffee houses have been forbidden from demanding that baristi share tips with them in California…Christians observed Good Friday in driving rain at the Colosseum in Rome…NBC reporter Richard Engel has been honored with the Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his work in Iraq…a pair of journalists have been found dead in Moscow, one shot, one strangled.