CONTAINING LINKS TO 57176 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JULY 21, 2008
There were two ways to cover Barack Obama's factfinding visit to Baghdad. Either treat it as a story about the future of the Iraq War: contrasting his policy on troop deployments with those of the leaders he met, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Gen David Petraeus. Or treat is a story about the future of Campaign 2008: examining the fitness of the Democratic candidate for a foreign policy Presidency. ABC led with the campaign angle; CBS and NBC led with the war angle. Obama the candidate won out as Story of the Day, however, thanks to CBS anchor Katie Couric's contribution, on the road in Jordan, where she lay the groundwork for her Tuesday one-on-one with him. NBC used substitute anchor Ann Curry while ABC expanded its newshole on this busy day of news (23 min v CBS 19, NBC 20), courtesy of the prescription brand Caduet, its single sponsor.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JULY 21, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABC2008 Barack Obama campaignPledges to insist on Iraq War troops pulloutTerry MoranBaghdad
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignFaces issues in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, IranKatie CouricJordan
video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesTroops out mulled by Obama, al-Maliki, PetraeusAndrea MitchellBaghdad
video thumbnailNBC2008 John McCain campaignFocus on oil drilling, Iraq surge successKelly O'DonnellMaine
video thumbnailCBSMilitary detains terrorist suspects in Cuban campWar crimes trial of Salim Hamdan gets under wayBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCYugoslavia war aftermath: war crimes prosecutionsFugitive Bosnian Serb Radovan Karadzic arrestedStephanie GoskLondon
video thumbnailCBSIsrael's Prime Minister Olmert bribery scandalTook $150K in cash from American businessmanMark PhillipsLondon
video thumbnailNBCHighway safety: truck, bus accident dangersSome commercial drivers medically unfit to driveLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSTomatoes tainted with salmonella toxinFDA switches focus to Mexican jalapeno peppersNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailABCBeijing Summer Olympic Games previewedLocal food additives run afoul of doping testsNeal KarlinskyBeijing
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
BARACK TAKES BAGHDAD There were two ways to cover Barack Obama's factfinding visit to Baghdad. Either treat it as a story about the future of the Iraq War: contrasting his policy on troop deployments with those of the leaders he met, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Gen David Petraeus. Or treat is a story about the future of Campaign 2008: examining the fitness of the Democratic candidate for a foreign policy Presidency. ABC led with the campaign angle; CBS and NBC led with the war angle. Obama the candidate won out as Story of the Day, however, thanks to CBS anchor Katie Couric's contribution, on the road in Jordan, where she lay the groundwork for her Tuesday one-on-one with him. NBC used substitute anchor Ann Curry while ABC expanded its newshole on this busy day of news (23 min v CBS 19, NBC 20), courtesy of the prescription brand Caduet, its single sponsor.

ABC chose to make Obama himself the focus of its coverage thanks to a sitdown granted to Nightline anchor Terry Moran. Moran's headline was that Obama continues to stand by his opposition to President George Bush's troop reinforcement of the spring of 2007, the so-called surge. "At that time we had to change the political debate," he insisted. Moran pressed, pointing out that since the surge, Iraq has been "transformed" with "horrific violence" moderating. Obama conceded that "he did not anticipate what people here sometimes call the Iraqi surge, the uprising of Iraqis against al-Qaeda extremists and Shiite extremists." Moran asked Obama to explain why he prefers a 16-month timetable for withdrawal over a flexible troops-out schedule based on local conditions. "I am going to try to pin you down on this," the newsman insisted. Obama objected to the premise of the question, refusing "to get boxed into what I consider two false choices."


DELICATE EXPLOSIONS CBS anchor Couric offered her overview of the candidate's tour--"Obama hopes to convince voters back home that he is comfortable on the world stage and can juggle a number of delicate and potentially explosive foreign policy issues"--and then went on to outline those delicate potential explosions. She called his Iraq policy "a delicate balancing act"…she cited his pledge to make Afghanistan "the focus of the War on Terror"…she stated that he needs to send a signal of engagement to both Israelis and Palestinians…she pointed out that "he seemed to backtrack" on whether an undivided Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel.

And at the end of her newscast CBS' Couric opined on the "wall to wall coverage" of the Obama trip--"part diplomacy, part PR and all politics"--in which she, herself, is complicit. ABC's George Stephanopoulos concluded that all this attention must be harmful to the candidacy of Republican John McCain: "Obama has all the anchors going over on this trip. He has a big press corps with him. It looks like a Presidential trip." As for Couric, she did not address the appropriateness of affording a mere candidate the attention normally reserved for a head of state. In fact, she seemed to suggest such scrutiny is appropriate. Obama "has some explaining to do…59% of Americans say they know very little about his foreign policy plans. Here is their chance to learn and his chance to teach a global classroom his vision of the world and America's role in it. Perhaps by the end of this week, we will all know a little bit more."


MULLEN DEBATES AL-MALIKI Both NBC and CBS led with the question of the United States' military role in Iraq: NBC's Andrea Mitchell from Baghdad, CBS' David Martin from the Pentagon. Martin relayed the advice Obama received from military brass. Chairman Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told FOX News Sunday that the consequences of withdrawal based on a 16-month schedule "could be very dangerous" and Gen David Petraeus "insists withdrawals cannot be based on timetables." Mitchell reported that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki foresees a US troop pullout by 2010, "roughly within the timeframe of Obama's plan."


MCCAIN THE UNOVERLOOKED All three networks were conscientious in granting John McCain correspondent coverage in the face of his rival's media blitz--even though the Republican did not do much that was newsworthy. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell focused on his pitch on energy: a new TV ad blames Obama for the rising price of gasoline because the Democrat refuses to back drilling for oil in coastal waters. On ABC, Ron Claiborne (embargoed link) played the photo-op of McCain visiting former President George Bush at his Kennebunkport vacation home where "he was diverted and at times diverted himself" from his pocketbook agenda. McCain could not take his mind off Iraq: "It was the surge that is, that has brought, that is winning this war." CBS' Jim Axelrod chose McCain's allegations of "fawning coverage from a pro-Obama media" as his angle. McCain submitted an op-ed article on Iraq to The New York Times in response to a piece written by Obama. The Times asked McCain to rewrite his section on "a clear plan for achieving victory" rather than publish it as is.


DID THE CHAUFFEUR DO IT? Salim Hamdan attracted attention on this busy day of news. He is the detainee at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base who is suspected of being Osama bin Laden's chauffeur. After almost seven years of incarceration, he is finally appearing before a military tribunal, charged with delivering surface-to-air missiles to al-Qaeda fighters. CBS' Bob Orr reported on his not guilty plea--he claims he was "merely a driver"--but noted that his defense relies more on the system's injustice rather than the client's innocence: they "may not have complete access to witnesses, or classified information that may help their cases, and questionable evidence produced by harsh interrogations may be used against them." Presumably "harsh interrogations" was Orr's euphemism for torture. On ABC, Jan Crawford Greenburg (no link) predicted that the Hamdan hearing would be "the test case, the trial run" to test the legality of its procedures and the military tribunal itself so that all challenges will have been resolved before graver charges are leveled against the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Even if the tribunal should be acquit, Attorney General Michael Mukasey proposed legislation to deny entry visas to innocent ex-detainees. He received "a chilly reception from Democrats in Congress," noted NBC's Pete Williams.


GOT HIM Other overseas coverage included a pair of narrated reports from London. NBC's Stephanie Gosk told us about the arrest in Belgrade of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, on war crimes charges after more than a decade as fugitive. CBS' Mark Phillips covered the Israeli investigation into the $150,000 in cash handed to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by Morris Talansky, an American businessman. ABC's overseas coverage saw part three of its Small World series. After an anthropological survey of wedding and dinnertime rituals, we now see an all-female wheel of correspondents bringing us summer fun: Joohee Cho on mud baths in Boryeong, Clarissa Ward at a boys-only swimming pools in Baghdad, Lara Setrakian watching beachfront belly dancing in Alexandria, Karen Russo sipping tea at a hill station in Darjeeling, Lama Hasan taking the waters in Bavaria, Margaret Conley and kite flying in Bali.


NO RAW JALAPENOS Inside the Beltway, NBC's Lisa Myers and ABC's David Wright (embargoed link) both picked up on a Government Accountability Office report on drivers with commercial licenses: more than half a million of those behind the wheel of trucks and buses may be medically disabled. CBS had Nancy Cordes file on the latest twist in the salmonella investigation by the Food & Drug Administration. Instead of avoiding raw tomatoes, diners are now advised to eschew raw jalapeno peppers. Food was the angle of Neal Karlinsky's report from Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics for ABC. China's unregulated agriculture uses so many antibiotics and growth stimulants and steroids that athletes are afraid to eat everyday food for fear of a positive doping test. NBC filed an Olympic preview too: Mark Mullen offered a brief progress report via broadband on the third day of Beijing's clean air drive, just two and a half more weeks to go.