CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUGUST 13, 2008
George Bush was not treated as a lame duck this time. The conflict in Georgia was the unanimous decision as Story of the Day. All three newscasts offered double-barreled coverage, offering battlefield footage from the front and diplomatic coverage of the Bush Administration's reaction. ABC and NBC both led with the Washington angle, ABC from the White House itself: "We expect all Russian forces that have entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country," the President declared, as he dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tbilisi along with humanitarian assistance. CBS did not have a correspondent in Georgia but did have anchor Katie Couric interview its president, Mikheil Saakashvili. NBC's anchor Brian Williams was again in Beijing for the Olympic Games. ABC sent its anchor Charles Gibson to Dallas for its Oil Crunch series and an interview with Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR AUGUST 13, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCRussia-Georgia fighting over South OssetiaConfusion surrounds Russia's troop movementsJim MacedaGeorgia
video thumbnailABC
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Russia-Georgia fighting over South OssetiaPresident Bush insists on pullout, aids TbilisiDavid WrightWhite House
video thumbnailCBSRussia-Georgia fighting over South OssetiaState Department warns Moscow of isolationLara LoganWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCHighway traffic utilization continues to declineHeavy summer driving season fails to materializeTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSHate murder of immigrant in small Pa town allegedHS athletes accused of fatal beating MexicanSeth DoanePennsylvania
video thumbnailNBCMilitary combat casualties suffer disabilitiesTriple amputee's rehab aided by civilian friendBob FawWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSDance troupe founded by Alvin Ailey celebratedAmerican Dance Theater marks 50th anniversaryMichelle MillerNew York
video thumbnailCBS2008 John McCain campaignStaging is more vivid, negative ads demeaningDean ReynoldsMichigan
video thumbnailNBCBeijing Summer Olympic Games get under wayAdvertising sponsors capitalize on feelgood vibeChris JansingLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCBeijing Summer Olympic Games get under wayUSA ping-ponger Wang Chen is Chinese immigrantCarl QuintanillaBeijing
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
PRESIDENT BUSH KEEPS ALL EYES FOCUSED ON GEORGIA George Bush was not treated as a lame duck this time. The conflict in Georgia was the unanimous decision as Story of the Day. All three newscasts offered double-barreled coverage, offering battlefield footage from the front and diplomatic coverage of the Bush Administration's reaction. ABC and NBC both led with the Washington angle, ABC from the White House itself: "We expect all Russian forces that have entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country," the President declared, as he dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tbilisi along with humanitarian assistance. CBS did not have a correspondent in Georgia but did have anchor Katie Couric interview its president, Mikheil Saakashvili. NBC's anchor Brian Williams was again in Beijing for the Olympic Games. ABC sent its anchor Charles Gibson to Dallas for its Oil Crunch series and an interview with Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil.

President Saakashvili offered CBS' Couric his own frontline dispatch: "Russian tanks ran through our towns…destroyed buildings, blew up civilian objects, killed people, rampaged through places, did ethnic cleansing." He called Russians an "insult to humanity, an insult to common sense of mankind." He promised that "Georgia will never, ever surrender." Couric noted that Saakashvili claims to speak "frequently" with Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.

The networks' own correspondents on the ground offered little reportage to confirm Saakashvili's purple rhetoric. ABC's Clarissa Ward (embargoed link) confirmed that Russian tanks had indeed moved deep inside Georgian territory and cut off the highway from Tbilisi to Gori. Yet she reported Gori's fleeing citizens as blaming the chaos in their home town on "ethnic militias and criminals" not Russians. NBC's Jim Maceda repeated the explanation by the Russian military for their continued maneuvers--"just clearing out weapons in areas that could be used to attack their peacekeepers." Back in Washington, NBC's Andrea Mitchell consulted her unnamed sources in "military intelligence" and found "no hard evidence Russia is continuing to advance." From London, CBS' Mark Phillips opined that it may not need to: "What is clear is that the complete Russian victory in this small but nasty war has created a new reality on the ground."

Introducing his network's coverage from Beijing, NBC anchor Brian Williams cautioned that this "violent and messy conflict does not lend itself exactly to white hats or black hats or equal amounts of good or evil" before pointing out that the United States has "decidedly chosen sides" in favor of Georgia. ABC's David Wright (embargoed link) characterized the message President Bush had given to Secretary Rice to deliver to Tbilisi as "unwavering support for Georgia's democratically elected government." CBS' Lara Logan saw limited options for the United States to express such support, suggesting that it may block Russia's application to join the World Trade Organization. "The one thing Georgians want most from the US is military assistance but that is the one thing they are not likely to get."


INTERVIEW HAD NO CARBON FOOTPRINT Anchor Charles Gibson's two-part interview (here and here) with Rex Tillerson, the boss of ExxonMobil, coincided with the latest monthly report on highway traffic. It revealed that American motorists are driving less, almost 5% fewer miles than a year ago, the eighth straight month of cutbacks. ABC's Lisa Stark (embargoed link) on NBC's Tom Costello both covered the trend towards burning less gasoline. Gibson asked Tillerson about the high price of gasoline (the American motorist has been "wise" to drive less); his corporation's healthy profits ($22bn so far this year); its more modest investment ($12bn year to date) in exploration; whether ExxonMobil should pay more taxes ("What is that going to solve?"); and what the mixture of public energy policies should be for the long term. Tillerson called energy independence "not realistic" and recommended an "integrated" combination of increased efficiency, alternate fuel technologies and more drilling for oil without specifying their relative ratios.

No surprise, the phrase global warming and the possible damage to the planet from burning fossil fuels never passed Tillerson's lips. Astonishingly, the phrase never passed Gibson's lips either. What was Gibson thinking? How can he air an eight-minute q-&-a with the leader of the world's largest hydrocarbon conglomerate without once referring to that inconvenient truth?


EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER The day's other domestic feature coverage ranged from the celebratory to the inspirational to the nitty-gritty. CBS' Seth Doane continued his reports from The Other America with a murder in Shenandoah Pa: four players from the hardscrabble former mining town's high school football team are charged with a hate crime after a late-night street fight left a Mexican immigrant dead. "I cannot say, you know: 'The Mexicans came here and now there are problems.' I cannot say that without sounding racist," complained one young white man, accurately, to Doane. For inspirational, NBC's Bob Faw took us to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where triple amputee Luis Rosa-Valentin, made deaf from an explosion in Iraq, is going through rehab with the help of his chalkboard wielding best friend from high school. For celebration, CBS' Michelle Miller marked the 50th anniversary of Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater with a beautifully bald Judith Jamison.


MCCAIN MAKEOVER From the campaign trail, CBS' Dean Reynolds walked us through the makeover of the look and tone of John McCain's candidacy. He called it a "sharper edge." Splashier, flag strewn events have replaced "bile green backdrops." The slogan has changed from Reform. Prosperity. Peace to Country First. McCain's initial pledge to conduct "a respectful campaign" against Barack Obama has been superseded by negative ads: "It frequently seems respect takes a back seat to ridicule." NBC's Chris Jansing noted McCain's ads too in her overview of the commercials running during her network's coverage of the Olympic Games. "A 30-second spot in primetime reportedly going for $475K," she said. That "reportedly" is choice. Jansing could not even get a straight answer from her own co-workers at NBC-Universal. "A feel good Olympics is a golden opportunity for advertisers," Jansing generalized, with spots alternating between the heart-tugging and the inspirational. McCain's ads are the exception, teasing Obama as "the biggest celebrity in the world." Jansing called it "a riskier more negative tone."


POOR PING PONG CALIBER As for the Olympic Games themselves, swimmer Michael Phelps attracted the attention of all three networks as he surpassed compatriots Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis with his eleventh career gold medal. NBC Sports Analyst Rowdy Gaines, a swimmer himself, marveled that Phelps won his butterfly gold with goggles full of blinding water: "It is going through this dark forest where you are just kind of feeling your way." CBS' Barry Petersen and ABC's David Muir had their reports confined to the broadcast medium for fear of violating online copyright. NBC's closer was a ping pong up-close-&-personal. Carl Quintanilla introduced us to Wang Chen, a Chinese immigrant to New York City, who failed to qualify for her native land's Olympic team in 1996 and 2000. Now 34 years old, she is swinging a paddle for the United States. There is a ping pong club in the Big Apple with her name on it but her "biggest challenge has actually been finding players of her caliber with whom to practice." Quintanilla faced her at the table to evince his own shortcomings in that regard.