It is an election Tuesday during Campaign 2008 so the Democratic Presidential primary in North Carolina and Indiana would normally be the unanimous selection for headlines. Sure enough the voting was the Story of the Day, attracting 31% of the three-network newshole (17 min out of 57) but only two of the three newscasts kicked off with it. ABC and CBS both chose Indiana as the more newsworthy of the two states. At NBC, the devastation from Cyclone Nargis was so catastrophic that it grabbed the top spot.    
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video thumbnailABC2008 North Carolina, Indiana primariesGet-out-vote efforts concentrate on IndianaJake TapperIndiana
video thumbnailNBC2008 North Carolina, Indiana primariesRodham Clinton targets working class votersAndrea MitchellIndiana
video thumbnailNBC2008 North Carolina, Indiana primariesObama adopts down-to-earth style on stumpLee CowanNorth Carolina
video thumbnailCBSCyclone Nargis hits coastal MyanmarStorm surge wiped out Irrawaddy Delta villagesBarry PetersenTokyo
video thumbnailABCCyclone Nargis hits coastal MyanmarRelief agencies begin emergency fundraisingDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailNBCWar on Drugs: college campus bust in San DiegoSDSU fraternity row accused of housing dealersPeter AlexanderLos Angeles
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingAccidental cell phone call home from battlefieldMiguel MarquezLos Angeles
video thumbnailCBSMilitary personnel suffer mental health problemsHouse hearings into suicides by VA patientsArmen KeteyianWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCSmoking: cigarette use health dangersBenefits found within five years of quittingNancy SnydermanBoston
video thumbnailCBSPop singer John Lennon was anti-war activistLyrics of Give Peace a Chance up for auctionMark PhillipsLondon
HOOSIERS, TAR HEELS VOTE IN HOOPS PRIMARY It is an election Tuesday during Campaign 2008 so the Democratic Presidential primary in North Carolina and Indiana would normally be the unanimous selection for headlines. Sure enough the voting was the Story of the Day, attracting 31% of the three-network newshole (17 min out of 57) but only two of the three newscasts kicked off with it. ABC and CBS both chose Indiana as the more newsworthy of the two states. At NBC, the devastation from Cyclone Nargis was so catastrophic that it grabbed the top spot.

CBS' Jim Axelrod (no link) laid out the expectations game of a split decision for Hillary Rodham Clinton: her win in Indiana; her loss in North Carolina. Yet "money is again a big issue" for her and aides told Axelrod that "she needs another big night to spark another big round of fundraising." NBC's political team saw both candidates target lower income voters. Andrea Mitchell noted that "this graduate of Wellesley and Yale Law has become blue collar Hillary." Meanwhile Lee Cowan heard Barack Obama "talking a lot about the economic anxieties of the middle class" and playing "a lot of Indiana's favorite sport--basketball." Yet he ended the day in North Carolina, noted CBS' Dean Reynolds (no link), where many African-Americans vote. "Obama gets great support from the black population."

Meanwhile Rodham Clinton announced that she "now wants to move the finish line," as CBS' Axelrod put it. For months both candidates have been working towards accumulating 2025 delegates. Now she makes victory more remote for both of them: "It is 2209." ABC's Jake Tapper explained the number "includes contested primaries in Michigan and Florida that the Democratic Party does not recognize."

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WRIGHT As for analysis, all three networks had their Sunday morning anchors examine the exit polls. All three zeroed in on the statistic that roughly half the primary electorate stated that Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's longtime pastor, was important in casting their vote and half found him unimportant. So what? "Whether that was the way Obama handled the situation or the negative things that they interpreted Wright as saying, we do not know," confessed Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press. Bob Schieffer (no link) of CBS' Face the Nation pointed out that "nearly all the voters who thought it was important in Indiana were white voters"--but then again, an overwhelming majority, 81%, of Indiana's entire primary electorate was white. George Stephanopoulos (no link) of ABC's This Week noted that most who thought Wright important voted for Rodham Clinton; most who thought him unimportant voted for Obama--and then jumped to the hasty conclusion that "what you thought about the importance of the Rev Wright basically determined your vote." Clearly, the contrary is just as plausible: which candidate you happen to support determines how much importance you attach to the Rev Wright.

A couple of other interesting tidbits on trends arose from the exit polls. ABC's Stephanopoulos pointed out that fewer voters in North Carolina and Indiana than in previous contests made their decision on how to vote in the final week: "A lot of these votes have been burned in early." And Jeff Greenfield (no link) on CBS found that Democrats are becoming increasingly polarized as the primary contest grinds on. Compared with Super Tuesday in early February, fewer of each candidate's supporters would be satisfied if the other candidate prevailed.

STORM SURGE FLOODS RICE BOWL Estimates of the death toll from Cyclone Nargis climb upwards: between 4,000 and 10,000 yesterday; now 22,500 known dead and 41,000 missing. Again none of the networks have been permitted to have their reporters enter Myanmar: ABC's Jim Sciutto and NBC's Ian Williams filed from Bangkok; CBS had Barry Petersen narrate the videotape from his base in Tokyo. "The Irrawaddy Delta was once known as the rice bowl of Asia; thousands of square miles are now under water," NBC's Williams lamented. The cyclone pushed in a twelve-foot storm surge that inundated the low-lying region. "With virtually no communications, many of the neediest victims are now cut off from the rest of the world," worried ABC's Sciutto.

Disaster relief is stalled. "There are scores of aid groups waiting to get in, groups like World Vision, CARE and Save the Children, whose efforts will be coordinated by the United Nations," ABC's Dan Harris pointed out from New York. "What everyone is waiting for now is for Myanmar's repressive, reclusive government to accept help." CBS' Petersen sarcastically noted that aid distribution was not at the top of the junta's agenda: the generals "are now using the worst disaster in this country's history as a flash-popping, camera-clicking photo-op of caring," he scoffed. As for the Burmese, "Buddhists here believe natural disasters are punishments for bad leaders."

HIGH EDUCATION Federal narcotics agents accused seven fraternity houses at San Diego State University of fronting for dealing in cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and ecstasy. ABC's Lisa Fletcher (embargoed link) and NBC's Peter Alexander covered the arrests of 75 students. Alexander noted that the suspects included a graduate student in Homeland Security and an undergraduate with a criminal justice major. Fletcher illustrated the problem of recreational abuse of drugs on campus with the spurious statistic that many students binge drink alcohol

ELSEWHERE… ABC's Miguel Marquez told the tale of the scariest voicemail message a parent could possibly receive. Stephen Phillips, a soldier fighting in Afghanistan, claimed he accidentally set off the redial on his cell phone in mid battle. It transmitted the combat audio back to Oregon until his last word "incoming" and the whistle of a rocket-propelled grenade…CBS' own scoop last month about the Veterans Administration's mental health failures in treating suicidal patients inspired House committee hearings. Armen Keteyian was on hand to hear his reporting vindicated…NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman gave us the highlights of a Journal of the Medical Association study on the benefits of quitting for women smokers. The dangers of lung cancer or heart disease start improving in as little as five years; 30 years after quitting, a female smoker is at no greater risk of death from lung cancer than a non-smoker.

ALL WE ARE SAYING For its closer, CBS had Mark Phillips bring us the tale of Gail Renard, a 16-year-old cub reporter on her high school newspaper in Montreal back in 1969. The big story in Quebec back then was an anti-war Bed-In staged at a local hotel. Renard got the scoop as Yoko Ono invited her into the bedroom to cover her marathon musical flower-power lie-down with John Lennon. The assembled throng was supposed to join John in a singalong of his latest ditty but no one could remember the words so Lennon jotted them down for Renard and she copied them onto cue cards. "These things are going to be worth something one day," she recalled him telling her as he let her keep his scrawl. That "one day" is now and Renard is selling the original manuscript of Give Peace a Chance at a Christie's auction. Asking price Ł200,000.

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: Georgia is ready to execute its first Death Row inmate in eight months…a cloud of ash covers much of Patagonia after the long-dormant Mount Chaiten erupted in Chile…federal Special Counsel Scott Bloch, who is in charge of protecting whistleblowing federal bureaucrats, is himself under investigation for mistreatment of staffers…the value of residential real estate fell by almost 8% in the first three months of 2008…consumer confidence statistics declined again, to a 15-year low…ice cream pioneer Irvine Robbins, partner of Baskin, died, aged 90…forgetful classical violinist Philippe Quint left a borrowed $4m Stradivarius in a Newark Airport taxi cab; the cabbie returned the instrument safe and sound and Quint performed a free concert for the entire rank in thanks.