CONTAINING LINKS TO 57176 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JULY 17, 2008
Last week Texas oilman T Boone Pickens grabbed headlines with his blueprint for an oilfree energy future. Now Nobel Laureate Al Gore qualifies for Story of the Day honors with his plan for the nation's electricity. Gore wants the entire grid to be renewable by 2018. No oil, no coal, no natural gas--no carbon fuels whatsoever. Gore unveiled his $3tr proposal in a speech for wecansolveit.org in Washington DC. His headline status was secured by CBS anchor Katie Couric, who anchored from the nation's capital where she interviewed the green former Vice President. None of the newscasts led with his call for curbs on fossil fuels. Ironically both ABC and NBC, with substitute anchor Ann Curry, led with news that directly undercut Gore's message: the declining price of crude oil. CBS chose to kick off with an all clear for tomatoes. The Food & Drug Administration no longer fears they may be a source for salmonella.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JULY 17, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSEnergy conservation and alternate fuel useNobel Laureate Al Gore unveils carbonfree planNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCOil, natural gas, gasoline pricesCrude drops for third straight day, now $129Trish ReganNew York
video thumbnailABC2008 Barack Obama campaignSchedules foreign tour to hone leadership imageJake TapperWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIran nuclear weapons program suspectedState Department enters talks, revokes boycottDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCMillionaire tax shelters run by Liechtenstein bankSenate hearings into IRS tax cheat clientsLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSTomatoes tainted with salmonella toxinFDA withdraws warning, focus on peppers insteadKelly CobiellaMiami
video thumbnailABCAlzheimer's Disease coverageExperimental drug Dimebon may restore memoryRyan OwensNew York
video thumbnailABCFertility trends: 4.3m births nationwide in 2007More Americans born than at height of babyboomDavid WrightWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCChildren's book on grief written by bereaved motherSergeant's Heaven inspired by toddler's deathAnn CurryNo Dateline
video thumbnailCBSHollywood movie Batman series releases sequelExpect The Dark Knight to be blockbuster hitBill WhitakerHollywood
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
THE SEASON FOR DREAMING GREEN Last week Texas oilman T Boone Pickens grabbed headlines with his blueprint for an oilfree energy future. Now Nobel Laureate Al Gore qualifies for Story of the Day honors with his plan for the nation's electricity. Gore wants the entire grid to be renewable by 2018. No oil, no coal, no natural gas--no carbon fuels whatsoever. Gore unveiled his $3tr proposal in a speech for wecansolveit.org in Washington DC. His headline status was secured by CBS anchor Katie Couric, who anchored from the nation's capital where she interviewed the green former Vice President. None of the newscasts led with his call for curbs on fossil fuels. Ironically both ABC and NBC, with substitute anchor Ann Curry, led with news that directly undercut Gore's message: the declining price of crude oil. CBS chose to kick off with an all clear for tomatoes. The Food & Drug Administration no longer fears they may be a source for salmonella.

CBS anchor Couric directly challenged Gore that his ten-year timeline was unrealistic. "Think of the Apollo Program, the Interstate Highway System," he replied. On NBC, Anne Thompson suggested that 30 years was more feasible than a decade. She envisioned the billions of dollars that it would cost to upgrade the electricity grid "so this renewable energy could travel from wind farms on the Texas plains and solar plants in the Nevada desert to the cities and towns that need it." CBS' Nancy Cordes observed that consumers are already facing energy price inflation for gasoline and heating oil and propane. How would they tolerate spending trillions on renewable electricity too? "Once we have built it, the fuel is free. The sunshine and the wind are here. China cannot bid up the price. It is not going to run out," was his soundbite in reply. ABC decided not to jump on Gore's publicity bandwagon by airing a full package, although it did preview Claire Shipman's one-on-one for Good Morning America.


BURSTING BUBBLES In the current energy market where fossil fuels are still burned and greenhouse gasses are still emitted, the cost of a barrel of crude oil fell for the third straight day, down from a high of $147 to $129. "Freefall," was the word CNBC's Trish Regan used on NBC. ABC's Betsy Stark (embargoed link) offered the rule of thumb that $1 in the cost of a barrel of crude translates to 2.5c for a gallon of gasoline--so she predicted a 40c drop. "We could start to see relief at the pump within weeks," CBS' Anthony Mason agreed. "We all remember the tech bubble and, of course, the real estate bubble," Regan reminded us. "We may be seeing this bubble ready to burst."


GRAND PHOTO-OP TOUR Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Germany, France, Britain. ABC's Jake Tapper previewed the itinerary for Barack Obama. The objective of the tour, Tapper told us, is to make the candidate seem "Presidential, a Commander-in-Chief capable of keeping the country safe--for many voters, a threshold he has not yet reached." Tapper quoted the reaction from rival candidate John McCain: "Nothing more than a photo-op."


ON THE NEXT DAY NBC and CBS both followed up on stories ABC aired Wednesday. ABC's Brian Ross told us about the tax cheats suspected of hiding their fortunes in Liechtenstein's secret LGT Bank. Now NBC's Lisa Myers covers the Senate hearings into LGT and the Swiss firm UBS, whose representative took the Fifth: "I respectfully decline to answer your questions." ABC's Martha Raddatz reported on the State Department's decision to end its boycott of diplomacy with Iran over its uranium enrichment. Now CBS' David Martin assessed the reversal: "Score one for the Iranians."


TOO MUCH TOMATO Food safety is obviously an important public health priority--but this salmonella story is definitely overblown. Not a single death has occurred from the bug. In the entire United States, just 1200 cases of sickness have reported over the last three months. That is an average of less than a hundred cases each week. Yet in just a couple of months, the salmonella story has totaled 37 minutes of coverage on the weekday nightly newscasts (ABC 14, CBS 14, NBC 9). Now all three networks cover the FDA's decision that raw tomatoes are no longer under suspicion. "Some hot peppers might still be causing disease," warned NBC's Robert Bazell. CBS' Kelly Cobiella reassured us that any tomatoes that might have been tainted "are off store shelves by now." It is possible that tomatoes may not have been the source of the taint after all. ABC's Lisa Stark (embargoed link) found tomato farmers "furious" because they were forced to plow their crops back into the soil rather than take them to market.

If it is true that the FDA's tomato warnings were overblown, surely the national news media were wrong to grant them such extreme, credulous publicity.


SOFTIE GIBSON Back in the days when he was anchor of Good Morning America, Charles Gibson would routinely turn sappy and sentimental when handling baby stories. So David Wright's baby feature for A Closer Look was a natural to include on ABC's newscast agenda. 2007 saw the birth of 4.3m Americans, father of a 15-month-old Wright told us, a higher annual total than even at the peak of the babyboom in 1957.

Less dreamy eyed, NBC's In Depth and CBS' Eye on Your Money features looked at straitened circumstances at the other end of the demographic spectrum. CBS' Kelly Wallace examined the financial shortfall in retirement planning by women and CNBC's Scott Cohn surveyed corporate cutbacks in healthcare coverage for retirees for NBC.

It was not that ABC ignored the elderly demographic in its swooning over Baby, Oh, Baby. Ryan Owens was assigned to cover experimental drug trials of Dimebon, a medicine for hayfever, that was accidentally discovered to double as a potential memory restorative for early-stage Alzheimer's patients.

Ann Curry's baby story for NBC's Making a Difference feature was sad. She told us the story of Icy Frantz, whose son died six years ago as a toddler. Curry publicized Sergeant's Heaven the self-published children's book imagining life after death that Frantz wrote to console herself.


NO JOKE The Dark Knight apparently requires no publicity assistance from the nightly news but Bill Whitaker in Hollywood for CBS supplied some anyway. The plot pits Batman against the Joker. Whitaker's coverage concerned the movie's box office prospects and the posthumous props accorded to the actor who played the villain, the late Heath Ledger.