The right to bear arms was the Story of the Day. All three networks led with the Supreme Court's decision about the Second Amendment. The right to possess firearms does not only belong to well-regulated militias but to individuals too. Washington DC's 32-year-old ban on ownership of handguns in one's home is unConstitutional and was struck down. All three networks led from the steps of the Supreme Court as the Justices grabbed headlines with a 5-4 decision for the second day in a row. ABC's newscast was anchored by substitute George Stephanopoulos.    
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video thumbnailCBSGuns: firearms control regulations debateSupreme Ct finds individual right to bear armsWyatt AndrewsSupreme Court
video thumbnailABCGuns: firearms control regulations debateCities brace for gun rights legal challengesDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailNBCNorth Korea nuclear weapons program haltedReveals N-secrets, no longer in Axis of EvilAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseHomes near military bases especially vulnerableKerry SandersVirginia
video thumbnailABCOil, natural gas, gasoline pricesPredicted $200/barrel crude spooks investorsJohn BermanNew York
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignObstacles to winning full Rodham Clinton supportDean ReynoldsWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSPharmaceuticals industry marketing abusesPayments to physicians may be improper influenceWyatt AndrewsMaryland
video thumbnailNBCDiabetes coverageGastric bypass surgery is experimental treatmentMika BrzezinskiNew York State
video thumbnailABCNeurosurgeon entered country as migrant farmworkerFeatured in ABC's medical docu series HopkinsJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailABCAlcohol: teenage drinking prevention effortsMany parents let teen children to drink at homeSharyn AlfonsiNew York
SECOND AMENDMENT NOT ONLY FOR MILITIAS The right to bear arms was the Story of the Day. All three networks led with the Supreme Court's decision about the Second Amendment. The right to possess firearms does not only belong to well-regulated militias but to individuals too. Washington DC's 32-year-old ban on ownership of handguns in one's home is unConstitutional and was struck down. All three networks led from the steps of the Supreme Court as the Justices grabbed headlines with a 5-4 decision for the second day in a row. ABC's newscast was anchored by substitute George Stephanopoulos.

The Supreme Court had never ruled on what rights the Second Amendment secures since the Bill of Rights was passed. "This is one for the history books," stated CBS' Wyatt Andrews. "This great debate--does the right to bear arms apply just to militias or to the people?--has been settled in favor of the people." So handguns may be limited or regulated but they cannot be outright banned. NBC's Pete Williams called it a "landmark ruling…a huge victory for advocates of gun rights." ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg (embargoed link) could not resist the pun: "The Justices fired a shot that will travel from city to city across the United States."

Both ABC and CBS followed up their legal coverage with speculation about the impact of the ruling on gun control laws in high-crime cities across the land. ABC's Dan Harris predicted "an avalanche of legal challenges to gun laws as a result of today's ruling," with challenges looming in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. CBS' Bill Whitaker quoted statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that gunshots account for 30,000 deaths each year nationwide. Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington DC told CBS anchor Katie Couric why his city had banned handguns: "Simple arguments and low-level crimes end up going bad because people have guns and end up using them."

AXIS OF EVIL LOSES SECOND LEG Normally, the diplomatic history made by North Korea would have grabbed headlines. Pyongyang's decision to come clean about its nuclear weapons took second place to the Supreme Court. The communist regime handed over details of its plutonium-enrichment program to its allies in Beijing and announced that it would demolish the cooling tower in Yongbyon to publicize its cessation. ABC managed to get correspondent Stephanie Sy (embargoed link) into North Korea. She promised she would be on hand to televise the demolition. "It is an act of more symbolic than practical value. They have already begun disabling the reactor."

In response President George Bush promised to end North Korea's status as a member of his Axis of Evil. With Saddam Hussein removed too, that leaves Iran standing as the axis' lone leg. NBC's Andrea Mitchell grandly speculated that the end of hostilities with North Korea could be "the final chapter of the Cold War." Mitchell quoted Bush's critics as charging that he "could have had this deal seven years ago." On CBS, Lara Logan, newly installed in the network's Washington DC bureau, was less convinced. Pyongyang has not come clean about its already-assembled arsenal of nuclear weapons, nor its suspected uranium enrichment program, nor its nuclear proliferation around the globe.

STOCKS TANK AS CRUDE SOARS It was a shaky day on financial markets, as the cost of a barrel of crude oil rose to $139 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell on Wall Street by 358 points to 11453, almost as low as it was two years ago. Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's Mad Money, told NBC anchor Brian Williams that the stock market would continue to decline until the housing market bottomed out. Cramer predicted that would be "by this time next year…that is our best hope." For NBC's In Depth. Kerry Sanders told us that communities near military bases, such as Quantico Va and San Diego, are an especially weak part of the housing market. Sanders explained that military families often choose to live in homes rather than the Spartan barracks on the base itself. Yet they are rotated more frequently than other homeowners so they must sell cheap when ordered, even when the market is at its weakest.

Both ABC's John Berman and CBS' Priya David picked up on a prediction by CIBC World Markets that crude oil would cost $200 per barrel and gasoline $7 per gallon by 2010. ABC's Berman warned that CIBC's number might be legitimate: "Sometimes predictions that seem outlandish at the time have a way of coming true," he suggested, reminding us of previous scoffed-at forecasts of crude at $80 from Boone Pickens and $105 from Goldman Sachs. CBS' David envisioned hard times for low income motorists, lighter commuter traffic and less congestion, and European-style smaller automobiles. NBC's take on the high price of crude oil involved flying Janet Shamlian 100 miles off shore by helicopter to profile life on board Chevron's floating Platform Genesis in the 3000-foot waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The 90-person platform has been pumping oil and natural gas from twelve wells for the past ten years. Genesis expects to continue for another eight until the wells run dry.

FUNDRAISING ABC had Jake Tapper report on the obstacles facing a rapprochement between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday. Now Dean Reynolds covers the same dynamic for CBS on the eve of the joint appearance by the erstwhile Democratic Presidential rivals in New Hampshire. Reynolds covered a Rodham Clinton fundraiser on Obama's behalf with her top inside-the-Beltway contributors. "As a practical matter she is hoping her support will prompt Obama to return the favor, getting his vast fundraising network to help in retiring her multimillion dollar campaign debt." Obama, for his part, "sounds open if not all that excited."

THREE NEW HEALTHWATCH All three networks filed medical features. NBC's Mika Brzezinski told us about an experimental surgical treatment for diabetes. Many obese patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery to lose weight discover the "unexpected side effect" that their diabetic symptoms disappear. Brzezinski introduced us to Leonard Maffucci, a surgeon who cuts the duodenum out of diabetic patients, even if they are not obese. "We do not really know why this might be working," Brzezinski warned. Maffucci agreed.

CBS' Wyatt Andrews, who had already filed from the Supreme Court, did double duty in a probe of the pharmaceutical industry--Doctors Under the Influence?--in conjunction with Business Week. As much money as Big Pharma spends on advertising to patients, Andrews told us that it spends even more, some $57bn annually, in direct payments to physicians. The money pays for lectures, clinical trials, consulting, speaking at seminars, academic research--"not just the free samples and the pens." So the obvious question arises: do Big Pharma's funds influence researchers in their diagnoses and clinicians in their prescriptions? "Fixing this problem is complicated because many relationships between doctors and drug companies are legitimate and necessary to achieve medical breakthroughs."

ABC's medical feature by John McKenzie turned out to be a promo for his network's primetime six-part documentary series Hopkins, on the healthcare operation at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. McKenzie profiled the same neurosurgeon who had been the topic of Steve Hartman's Assignment America a year ago: Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa uses the same fingers to cut out brain tumors that he once used to pick tomatoes as a migrant farmworker 20 years ago. He entered California at age 19 by illegally climbing over the border fence from Mexico in search of a better life.

HOSPITALITY PROHIBITED Do you like to give a teenager a glass of wine over dinner? Such sharing is quite common, ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi told us, "forget fake IDs." Many underage drinkers are served alcohol by family members or adult friends rather than obtaining booze illicitly. On occasions, adult-supervised parties have led to drunk driving accidents by their teenage guests. As a consequence 24 states have so-called Social Host Laws that make it a crime for adults to serve a drink to a teenager in their own home. Adults have a right to bear arms, apparently, but no right to arm a teen with a beer.

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: carbombs in Mosul killed 18 people the day after ABC's Terry McCarthy (embargoed link) reported on the Iraqi Army's success at pacifying the city…NASA's Phoenix planetary probe has analyzed the soil on Mars and found it to be Earthlike…a waterfall flowing under the Brooklyn Bridge on the East River is part of a summerlong public art installation in New York City…billionaire Bill Gates is being feted by his soon-to-be-former employees at Microsoft.