CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 15, 2008
A busy day of news saw political developments in New York State and Illinois edge out flying shoes for headline status. The pair of size tens that whizzed past President George Bush's head in Baghdad on Sunday may have become a viral video hit throughout the Arab World but the American network newscasts chose celebrity politics instead. CBS led with an update from Chicago on Gov Rod Blagojevich's corruption case. NBC and ABC, with substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas, chose the request by Caroline Kennedy, the former First Daughter, that she be appointed to New York State's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. The Kennedy bid for office was Story of the Day.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 15, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCFormer First Daughter Caroline Kennedy prospectsAsks Gov Paterson for Senate seat appointmentAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSGov Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) accused of corruptionPresident-elect Obama denies any improprietyDean ReynoldsChicago
video thumbnailNBCGov Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) accused of corruptionIllinois House launches impeachment panelKevin TibblesChicago
video thumbnailABCIraq-US diplomacy: President Bush to BaghdadAngry journalist throws shoes, President ducksMartha RaddatzWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCIraq-US diplomacy: President Bush to BaghdadSecret Service anti-shoe protection scrutinizedRichard EngelNew York
video thumbnailCBSIraq-US diplomacy: President Bush to BaghdadShoe thrower arrested, hailed as Arab folk heroElizabeth PalmerLondon
video thumbnailABCCIA accused of rendition, torture of suspectsVP Cheney admits approving waterboard questionsJonathan KarlWashington DC
video thumbnailABCFinancier Bernard Madoff accused of $50bn fraudFamous names, charities among swindled clientsBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSChemical firm suspected of causing cancer clusterScientists, neighbors of Rohm & Haas file suitsByron PittsIllinois
video thumbnailCBSMathematics education in schoolsAlgebra teacher honored for using rapping rhymesBen TracyCalifornia
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CAROLINE KENNEDY EDGES OUT FLYING SHOES A busy day of news saw political developments in New York State and Illinois edge out flying shoes for headline status. The pair of size tens that whizzed past President George Bush's head in Baghdad on Sunday may have become a viral video hit throughout the Arab World but the American network newscasts chose celebrity politics instead. CBS led with an update from Chicago on Gov Rod Blagojevich's corruption case. NBC and ABC, with substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas, chose the request by Caroline Kennedy, the former First Daughter, that she be appointed to New York State's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. The Kennedy bid for office was Story of the Day.

"She wants it and she is actively campaigning to get it," was how ABC's John Berman described the decision by the unelected Kennedy scion to toss her hat in Gov David Paterson's direction. NBC's Andrea Mitchell saw Kennedy "about to embrace the family business" as she applied to join the world's most deliberative body, where her father and one uncle had served and a second uncle still is. "She has never been part of any political debate. Quite deliberately she stayed back," mused CBS' Jeff Greenfield, until this primary season. "She must have gotten a taste of this in the campaign." An unidentified Kennedy family friend told NBC's Mitchell that JFK's daughter was "steely and determined."

That late entry into elective politics consisted of her endorsement of Barack Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton. CBS' Greenfield noted the piquancy of--and an ensuing backlash against--her applying for the seat "being vacated by the woman whose Presidential dreams she helped end." NBC's Mitchell quoted from an online petition directed to Paterson by Rodham Clinton allies: "Please note we specifically exclude Caroline Kennedy." CBS' Greenfield quoted Rep Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from Queens NY, acknowledging Kennedy's possession of ample name recognition. "But so does J.Lo." Quipped Greenfield: "Welcome to the NFL."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos talked to Empire State Democrats and concluded that "it will be difficult if not impossible for the governor to say no" to Kennedy. "She can raise an awful lot of money." NBC archivists dug up a clip of then senator John Kennedy on their own network's interview show Look Here just days before his daughter was born in 1957. "If you were to have a son would you encourage a political career for him?" asked host Martin Agronsky. "Yes and I hope if I had a daughter I might encourage her to play some part. I do not think it should be confined to men only."


DID RAHM SEND ROD HIS LITTLE LIST? The federal case against Rod Blagojevich for conspiring to collect kickbacks in exchange for granting an appointment to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat continued. A committee of the Illinois House of Representatives was formed to investigate whether the governor deserved impeachment. CBS' Dean Reynolds heard Speaker Mike Madigan make the announcement and called his reaction to the prosecution case "as cold as the wind off the lake." Declared Madigan: "I have had an opportunity to get to know Mr Blagojevich over six years and so I was not surprised." NBC's Kevin Tibbles obtained a soundbite from Edward Genson, Blagojevich's expected defense lawyer: "The case that I have seen so far is significantly exaggerated." Genson has also defended rap singer R Kelly and billionaire Conrad Black against criminal charges.

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating the contacts about the Senate seat between Blagojevich's staff and Obama's. So when the President-elect declared his own propriety--"This appalling set of circumstances that we have seen arise has nothing to do with my office"--he was unable to demonstrate it because the prosecutor asked him to wait for a week before divulging his records. ABC's George Stephanopoulos claimed, unconvincingly, that Fitzgerald was thereby helping Obama get "off the hook." NBC's Savannah Guthrie picked up on a Chicago Tribune report that Rahm Emanuel, the soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff, "had actually given a list to the governor's office of preferred candidates" for the Senate seat. "There is no allegation of wrongdoing or dealmaking by Emanuel."


THE SHOES HEARD ROUND THE WORLD So now we come to the fun story of the day. "This is your farewell kiss, you dog," was the insult screamed by TV journalist Muntathar al-Zaidi, as he took off his size ten shoes and hurled them at President George Bush during a Green Zone press conference. Colorfully, NBC's Richard Engel asked how the Secret Service gave the reporter the time to "reload and launch the other shoe." Bush ducked and the shoes missed. Engel knew al-Zaidi as a fellow reporter in Baghdad. He has a reputation "for reporting on civilian casualties. He had been kidnapped by gunmen and detained by US troops. Colleagues say he had grown to hate American soldiers."

ABC's Martha Raddatz, who traveled with Bush to Iraq and Afghanistan, asked the President about his reaction. "I do not know what his beef is," he shrugged. Raddatz found Bush "testy" about the fact that the flying shoes were "dominating the coverage" of his farewell overseas trip as Commander in Chief. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was said to be "absolutely furious," according to NBC's Engel, demanding a seven-year prison sentence for al-Zaidi.

Both CBS' Elizabeth Palmer and ABC's Jim Sciutto wated the flying shoes go viral from their base in London. "Huge news," observed Palmer, quoting online shoe humor: "al-Zaidi should do jail time," a blogger quipped, "because he missed." Sciutto reported a $10m bid for the shoes from a Saudi bidder. "In news coverage, on new fan Websites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment is giddy satisfaction." Shoes are "the new symbol for anti-Americanism in the Arab World."

But why shoes? "There is no bigger insult than hitting someone with a shoe," CBS' Palmer explained," a dirty object worn on the lowest part of the body"…"as low as dirt"--ABC's Sciutto…"a symbol of filth"--NBC's Engel.


T STANDS FOR TACTICS NOT THE OTHER WORD ABC introduced highlights of Jonathan Karl's Exclusive interview for Good Morning America with the departing Dick Cheney. The topic was torture but as usual, both the network correspondent and the Vice President, decorously avoided using the T-word itself. "Tactics," Karl called them, referring to the questioning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. "The process," Cheney called it, as he acknowledged his involvement and support in approving the CIA's "remarkably successful effort" at interrogation. "In hindsight, do you think any of the tactics that were used…went too far?" "I do not." "Waterboarding…even that, you think, is appropriate?" "I do."


BOLD FACES NOW RED FACED The heavy day of news continued as all three newscasts assigned a correspondent to the investigation into Bernard Madoff, the Wall Street financier accused of running his investment funds as a $50bn Ponzi scheme. NBC's Michelle Kosinski filed from Florida, where she pointed out that some of Madoff's investors were middle class rather than rich and famous. Meet Arnold and Joan Sinkin of Boynton Beach, retired carpet salesman and physical therapist, now wiped out.

CBS' Armen Keteyian pulled the bold face names from Madoff's client list: Fred Wilpon, Frank Lautenberg, Elie Wiesel, Steven Spielberg and Mort Zuckerman. For those keeping score at home, that is the owner of the New York Mets, the Senator from New Jersey, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Academy Award winning director-producer and the New York Daily News publisher. For ABC's A Closer Look, Brian Ross suggested why the funds appeared so foolproof. "Every month Madoff's victims received detailed monthly statements showing trades and investments. Authorities say they never really existed."


COULD BE A COINCIDENCE CBS departed from its normal newscast format to devote a full seven minutes to an Exclusive investigation by Byron Pitts into the $9bn specialty chemical firm Rohm & Haas. The average incidence of brain cancer in the population at large is seven cases out of 100,000, Pitts told us. A village in northern Illinois where Rohm & Haas dumped chemicals into groundwater for 20 years until 1979 has a brain cancer rate of 14 in 1,000. A hallway in a research building in Philadelphia has a brain cancer rate of five out of twelve scientists. "It is important to understand that that could be a coincidence," Dr Philip Lewis told Pitts. Lewis is Rohm & Haas' chief health officer.


HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC High school was the closing topic for both ABC and CBS. CBS' Ben Tracy publicized The Rappin' Mathematician. Alex Kajitani is a southern California teacher who has rendered 24 algebraic maxims in hip-hop rhyme on a CD and has seen his students' test scores shoot up. ABC followed the High School Musical success of its sibling entertainment arm in the Disney corporation with its second story in the last month on high school dramatics. Jeffrey Kaufman filed his report on an all-singing, all-signing West Side Story from Florida for The Spirit of America. Now Deborah Roberts (embargoed link) offers a preview for her two-hour primetime documentary Drama High. It shows suburban Westfield HS students from Chantilly Va putting on The Wiz. "You are a pretty white girl," casting director Scott Pafumi punned, "and this is a pretty black show."