CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUGUST 04, 2008
A very light day of news turned out to portend the coverage we may expect for the next three weeks. The breaking news was so inconsequential that not a single story was deemed newsworthy enough to qualify for coverage by a correspondent on all three newscasts. NBC led with the heatwave that has baked Dallas for the last eleven days. CBS and ABC both chose Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama's energy platform and the sarcastic response by his Republican rival to Obama's observation that a properly maintained automobile burns less gasoline: "We have to drill here and drill now. We are not going to achieve energy independence by inflating our tires," John McCain barked. Anyway, in this news vacuum, feature coverage in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games qualified as Story of the Day. With NBC's newscast being anchored from Beijing from Thursday onwards, we can expect sports to be treated as news whenever true news is light.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR AUGUST 04, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCBeijing Summer Olympic Games previewedCity redevelops, $40bn to impress visitorsIan WilliamsBeijing
video thumbnailCBSTropical Storm Edouard forms in Gulf of MexicoBarrier islands in Louisiana brace for floodsDave PriceDallas
video thumbnailABC2008 Barack Obama campaignEnergy policy focus on conservation, renewablesJake TapperBoston
video thumbnailABCAnthrax spores spread maliciously through mailFBI probe of Fort Detrick scientists recountedPierre ThomasWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIraq: post-war reconstruction effortsBasra must rebuild after purge of militiasNed ColtIraq
video thumbnailCBSUS dollar price declines on foreign exchange marketsAmerican tourists face high prices in LondonElizabeth PalmerLondon
video thumbnailCBSAirline travel: passengers pay surcharges for extrasEven pillows, blankets, soda, coffee can costAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailNBCOrganic food is all the rageSkyrocketing sales may be slowed by expenseAnne ThompsonNew Hampshire
video thumbnailCBSFast food restaurant industry trendsKids' meals routinely contain excess caloriesMark StrassmannAtlanta
video thumbnailABCFast food restaurant industry trendsMcDonald's struggles to preserve dollar menuChris BuryChicago
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
PREPARING FOR OLYMPIC INUNDATION A very light day of news turned out to portend the coverage we may expect for the next three weeks. The breaking news was so inconsequential that not a single story was deemed newsworthy enough to qualify for coverage by a correspondent on all three newscasts. NBC led with the heatwave that has baked Dallas for the last eleven days. CBS and ABC both chose Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama's energy platform and the sarcastic response by his Republican rival to Obama's observation that a properly maintained automobile burns less gasoline: "We have to drill here and drill now. We are not going to achieve energy independence by inflating our tires," John McCain barked. Anyway, in this news vacuum, feature coverage in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games qualified as Story of the Day. With NBC's newscast being anchored from Beijing from Thursday onwards, we can expect sports to be treated as news whenever true news is light.

Ian Williams, NBC's man in Bangkok, arrived in Beijing and offered up the first views of structures we can expect to inundate us over the next few weeks--the Water Cube for swimming, the Birds Nest for track-&-field, the new television center for CCTV, the largest airport terminal in the world. Construction has cost $40bn and 1.5m residents have been evicted to make room: "Brave new Beijing has been built on the rubble of the city's courtyard homes." CBS also filed from China but looked back at the ruins from this spring's earthquake in Sichuan rather than forward to the Games. Barry Petersen, who showed us surviving giant pandas last week, now turned to bereaved parents: "In a country that imposes a policy of one child per couple, when you lose that child in the rubble, you lose the centerpiece of your family." ABC's closing feature was a Beijing preview, a standard up-close-and-personal profile of three USOC athletes. John Berman (embargoed link) told us that the taekwondo team includes a trio of siblings. Meet Steven, Mark and Diana, the Lopezes of Sugarland Texas.


WAITING FOR EDOUARD There was not much weather to show us on the beach at Galveston so NBC's Janet Shamlian and ABC's Steve Osunsami (no link) confined themselves to brief stand-ups as they waited for Tropical Storm Edouard to make landfall. "If you look at the beach this evening, it looks like the calm before the storm," stated Osunsami literally. So the serious weather coverage was filed from the baking heat of Dallas by NBC's Don Teague and Dave Price, the weathercaster for CBS' Early Show. On the eleventh straight day of triple-digit Fahrenheit temperatures, power officials told Teague "they expect today to set an all time record for electricity usage in the State of Texas."


DRILLING DOWN Energy was the topic for this day's quarrel between Barack Obama and John McCain. ABC and CBS both led with Obama's proposals for conservation and renewables and McCain's response for exploration and nuclear--Jake Tapper and Dean Reynolds filing respectively--while NBC confined its coverage to a mention in passing.

ABC's Tapper fact-checked two disputes. Had McCain fallen into "the pocket of Big Oil" since revoking his opposition to drilling in coastal waters? Tapper leaned against McCain, pointing out that while Obama had received $400,000 in campaign contributions from oil interests in his entire campaign, McCain had racked up $1m just in the last month since he made his switch. Second, was Obama correct in his advocacy for properly inflated tires and tuned-up engines? It would not quite put as much new oil on the market as drilling for it offshore, Tapper judged: efficiency 800K barrels daily, drilling 1,250K. Anyway according to the Department of Energy, CBS' Reynolds noted, "it will take nearly a decade to get results from new drilling."

As a footnote CBS anchor Katie Couric issued a correction to her slip in last week's profile of the McCain Campaign HQ in Arlington Va. The Republican National Convention will be in St Paul not its twin Minneapolis, she clarified: "So, our apologies to all the people of St. Paul, along with a reminder that the man for whom your city is named encouraged his followers to be patient and forgiving." A second apology for blasphemy might now be in order. Those to whom St Paul was preaching were not his "followers" but those of Jesus Christ. They are called Christians not Paulists.


YOU CANNOT LIBEL A DEAD PERSON NBC also skipped the follow-up to Friday's Story of the Day, the decision by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to end its seven-year investigation into the inhalation murders of five people by sending anthrax spores through the mail. The probe is ending without an arrest, trial or guilty verdict because the FBI's chief suspect Bruce Ivins committed suicide. Ivins, a civilian germ warfare microbiologist at Fort Detrick, protested his innocence before he killed himself--but that fact was mentioned by neither CBS' Bob Orr nor Pierre Thomas in ABC's A Closer Look. Thomas was relatively temperate in his investigation into why it took the FBI five years to focus on Ivins. He insisted that even now it is "a strong circumstantial case, perhaps, but the FBI has a lot of skeptics."

Astonishingly, CBS' Orr showed no such circumspection. Without skepticism, he quoted anonymous "law enforcement sources" as dubbing Ivins "a sociopath intent on doing harm" and Orr asserted that Ivins "had a longtime obsession with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma." So much for not speaking ill of the dead. If Orr is as certain as he seems to be that this man Ivins was deranged, surely that should have been his lead. Do not cover the late Ivins' presumed guilt but the shocking question for the Pentagon--what in the world was the army doing hiring such a mad scientist homicidal pervert to work with germ warfare?


BEAUTIFUL BASRA NBC sent Ned Colt to Basra to celebrate the transformation of the southern port since March, when a sweep by Iraq's army purged the city of feuding Shiite militias. "This neighborhood was a center of militia activity just six months ago. Bodies were being dumped here every day. It would have been lunacy for me to even walk here," smiled Colt. Now all the city needs is "jobs, water, electricity and sanitation," an Iraqi lieutenant told him.


PAIR SHAPED Last week ABC tried a couple of twofer experiments. David Muir and Sharyn Alfonsi went up and down in a single taped package on the gender wars: when are women happier? when are men? On the campaign trail, Jake Tapper and David Wright intercut their coverage of the spat between John McCain and Barack Obama: who is a scare-tactics race baiter? who is a vacuous effeminate celebrity? Now CBS tries to spice up the somber subject of currency rates on foreign exchange markets by contrasting Elizabeth Palmer in London with Priya David in New York City: how costly is it to be a tourist in England? how cheap to take a vacation in Manhattan? Meanwhile CBS' Anthony Mason looked at the cost of the travel rather than the tourism itself: jetBlue wants $7 for a pillow and blanket; USAirways wants $1 for an in-flight coffee, $2 for soda.

NBC's In Depth feature also used an unusual format--instead of a pair of correspondents it used none, airing a portion of a picturesque but inconclusive travelogue by Newsweek's Christopher Dickey on his journey through Georgia, his home state, with its mountain men, its Confederate iconography, its distrust of outsiders and its racist history.


JUST A SINGLE SLICE How light was the news this Monday? So light that each network filed a feature on food. NBC's Anne Thompson publicized the yoghurt at Stonyfield Farm in her piece on the decelerating uptick in sales in the pricey organics aisle. CBS' Mark Strassmann offered a plug for Chick-Fil-A, the fast food chain, in his report on kids' meals. The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that the calorie count of the specialty children's menus at most chains far exceeds recommended nutritional guidelines. Chick-Fil-A is an honorable exception. And on ABC, Chris Bury took a trip to McDonald's where the Dollar Menu is feeling the squeeze. "Consider a double cheeseburger," Bury invited us. The bun costs more, the beef costs more, the cheese costs more, even the condiments. "Some franchises are selling it with a single slice of cheese."