CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 18, 2008
While the current President remained indecisive about whether his administration should lend money to Detroit, Story of the Day status turned into a tussle between George Bush's successor and his predecessor. Barack Obama made news by selecting the Rev Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Bill Clinton made news by publishing the list of donors to his philanthropic foundation. Yet on a confused day of light newsmaking, none of the newscasts led with either Clinton or Bush or Obama and no single story was deemed newsworthy enough to earn coverage from a correspondent from all three networks. NBC led with winter weather; CBS with future restrictions on the credit card industry; ABC with the impact of Tuesday's interest rate cuts--and Clinton's fundraising, narrowly, turned out to be the Story of the Day.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 18, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCFormer President Bill Clinton runs global foundationPublishes names of donors, reduces fundraisingAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSFormer President Bill Clinton runs global foundationNo privacy for Hurricane Katrina relief donorsSharyl AttkissonWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCPresident Obama Inauguration ceremonies previewedInvocation by Rev Rick Warren provokes protestsSavannah GuthrieChicago
video thumbnailCBSFormer First Daughter Caroline Kennedy prospectsScrutinized in quest for New York's Senate seatJeff GreenfieldNew York
video thumbnailCBSBank credit, debit card rates, fees, chargesArbitrary hikes banned; new rules are delayedRandall PinkstonNew York
video thumbnailABCInterest rates lowered by Federal Reserve BoardUnusually rapid impact on lower mortgage ratesBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailNBCAutomobile industry in financial troublePresident Bush still undecided about bailoutPhilip LeBeauDetroit
video thumbnailNBCFinancier Bernard Madoff accused of $50bn fraudMany Israeli philanthropies were wiped outMartin FletcherTel Aviv
video thumbnailABCWinter weatherSnowstorm in Nevada heads for midwest, northeastEric HorngChicago
video thumbnailNBCHousehold garbage pollution, recycling effortsInventor converts trash into trendy productsAnne ThompsonNew Jersey
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CLINTON’S DONORS NUDGE OUT OBAMA’S PREACHER While the current President remained indecisive about whether his administration should lend money to Detroit, Story of the Day status turned into a tussle between George Bush's successor and his predecessor. Barack Obama made news by selecting the Rev Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Bill Clinton made news by publishing the list of donors to his philanthropic foundation. Yet on a confused day of light newsmaking, none of the newscasts led with either Clinton or Bush or Obama and no single story was deemed newsworthy enough to earn coverage from a correspondent from all three networks. NBC led with winter weather; CBS with future restrictions on the credit card industry; ABC with the impact of Tuesday's interest rate cuts--and Clinton's fundraising, narrowly, turned out to be the Story of the Day.

As promised, Clinton named the names of his contributors to ensure that there should be no suspicion of hidden influence peddling surrounding the Secretary of State by way of her souse. Those who have already ponied up millions for the Clinton Foundation include oil-rich governments such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. "If confirmed," Hillary Rodham Clinton "will be negotiating with those same countries," noted NBC's Andrea Mitchell. Going forward, Mitchell reported that the former President has formally agreed to curtail his personal fundraising and to submit possible new donors to the State Department for review.

CBS' Sharyl Attkisson claimed an Exclusive for her discovery of unwitting names on Clinton's list. When Clinton and his fellow former President George Bush launched a relief fund in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the fall of 2005 they did not have their paperwork completely in place. So existing charities were used as ad hoc conduits for some $80m in donations. Bush used a Houston community fund; Clinton used his foundation. Attkisson reported that the funds were eventually moved in their entirety to the Katrina Fund. Nevertheless, thousands of Katrina givers are now publicly listed as Clinton Foundation supporters because their gifts were temporarily parked there for five months.


POPPING THE MARRIAGE QUESTION It is not exactly the first time that Barack Obama's choice of clergyman has raised eyebrows this year. Rick Warren is no Jeremiah Wright and Obama has not decided to become a member of Warren's Saddleback Church, just to ask him to say a prayer at his inauguration ceremony. Nevertheless Obama "found himself in the middle of the nation's culture wars," according to NBC's Savannah Guthrie.

In ABC's A Closer Look, Dan Harris (embargoed link) pointed out that Warren is an evangelical activist on issues such as HIV/AIDS, global poverty and climate change. That was not the issue: tis election season, Warren had also been an active proponent of Proposition 8, which prohibited Californians from marrying someone of their own gender. Harris quoted from a beliefnet.com interview with Warren in which the preacher equated same-sex spouses with incestuous siblings, child brides and polygamists. The President-elect's invitation to Warren "appears to have ended the honeymoon between Obama and the left wing of his party," Harris suggested. Chuck Todd, newly-named as NBC's White House correspondent, was more nuanced. "There has always been a tenuous partnership," he reminded us. Many gay Democratic activists supported Hillary Rodham Clinton over Obama for the nomination.

What is it about the timidity of NBC's anchor interviewers in asking follow-up questions about marriage? Before the election, Brian Williams sat down with candidate Obama to ask about the Constitution. Obama insisted on unenumerated privacy rights: "I mean, the right to marry who you please is not in the Constitution but I think all of us assume that if a state decided to pass a law saying Brian, you cannot marry the woman you love that you would think that was unConstitutional." Now Guthrie quotes from Ann Curry's Dateline sitdown with Pastor Warren in which he makes this tendentious claim: "For 5,000 years every single culture and every single religion has defined marriage as a man and a woman."

Why did Williams not ask about marrying the hypothetical man that he loves? Why did Curry not ask about the centuries-old traditions of polygamy and ownership of wives as chattel? What about a follow-up?


COURIC WANTS THE CAROLINE Q&A NBC's Andrea Mitchell told us on Wednesday about the "rocky start" to Caroline Kennedy's bid to be appointed to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate seat. Now ABC's Kate Snow and CBS' Jeff Greenfield enter the fray--and things look no smoother for the Kennedy scion. Snow told us the amazing fact that the woman who would represent the entire Empire State in the United States Senate had never before in her life been to Rochester until this week.

"She has the Kennedy name," ABC's Snow suggested, when mulling the qualifications for the job of a woman who styles herself "as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate" yet has never been elected to anything. CBS' Greenfield pointed out that Kennedy's rival for the seat is Andrew Cuomo so Gov David Paterson now has to decide "which powerful political family does he alienate…a decision wrapped in nitroglycerine for the holidays." Greenfield was in fine sarcastic form as New York politics unspooled. After Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg of the Big Apple had praised Kennedy, a mayoral aide went to work for her. "The mayor says the aide was freelancing on his own. It is possible there is somebody who believes this."

Greenfield wondered when Kennedy would agree to sit down to a vetting interview with local reporters or, "say, yourself," addressing his anchor Katie Couric. "I got a very clear answer: 'We have not decided that.'" Couric would like the get: "Hopefully they will soon."


CENTRAL BANK CHANGES PLASTIC REGS The Federal Reserve Board qualified for the lead item on both CBS' and ABC's newscast. ABC's Betsy Stark looked at the rapid results from Tuesday's reduction of short-term interest rates. They were "so far-reaching and so aggressive" that their impact is being felt in days rather than the usual months. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage can now be found for less than 5% so lenders are flooded with refinancing applications. A lower prime lending rate is reducing the cost of adjustable mortgages and loans to small businesses, car buyers and college students. Stark warned that "not everyone will benefit. The 12m Americans whose homes are now worth less than their mortgages will not be able to take advantage of this historic opportunity."

CBS' Randall Pinkston and NBC's Lisa Myers both covered the Fed's credit card regulations. They will not take effect until July 2010 but when they do "the biggest change," according to CBS' Pinkston, will be "a new ban on raising interest rates." Banks will have to provide 45 days advance notice of a hike to timely payers. The 18 month hiatus will see banks change their business model, NBC's Myers predicted. She foresaw a future credit card industry with overall higher interest rates and less available plastic.


BUSH IS NO HOOVER WANNABE ABC was the only newscast Wednesday to have a reporter update us on the desperate automobile news coming out of Detroit. Chris Bury told us about the month-long shutdown of all production at Chrysler. Now CNBC's Phil LeBeau files the day's sole Detroit package on NBC. General Motors needs an $8bn federal loan, Chrysler $4bn "just to make it through January." President George Bush explained his indecision during a q-&-a session at the American Enterprise Institute: "There is still a lot of uncertainty and I am also worried about putting good money after bad." But LeBeau's sources assured him that his mind is already made up: "By all indications tomorrow we expect President Bush to outline his plan for bailing out the Big Three." From the White House, NBC's Chuck Todd pointed out that one reason why it was so easy for Senate Republicans to vote against Detroit last week was that they knew their vote had no consequence: mindful of the Herbert Hoover analogy, "Bush was not going to allow a bankruptcy to happen on his watch."

Even before those 46,000 Chrysler workers file for benefits, automobile unemployment has hit Michigan and Indiana hardest, CBS' Kelly Wallace pointed out. The jobless benefits funds in those two states "dried up and they are now getting loans from the federal government" while 28 other states nationwide are on the brink of running out of money. "If the recession lasts for years the states' options are limited and tough: either raise taxes on employers who fund the system or pare down benefits."


FROM WALL STREET TO TEL AVIV NBC was the only newscast to stay with the collapse of Bernard Madoff's $50bn so-called Ponzi scheme. Perhaps an incentive for its persistence was to promote CNBC's primetime documentary Scam of the Century?, which, come to think of it is not such a grand title, given how young the century still is. Anyway, Martin Fletcher filed an In Depth report from Tel Aviv where Israeli philanthropies were heavily invested in Madoff's fund. The Chais Family Foundation, for example, has lost $250m so all its programs--for Ethiopian Jews, for young musicians, for medical research, for gifted children--will be shuttered.


SNOW WILL NOT STAY IN LAS VEGAS The winter's first huge snowstorm has not yet swept across the plains into the Midwest and then onto the northeast, but ABC's Eric Horng and Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore on NBC were both stationed in the Chicago area in preparation. How to report on weather that has not yet arrived? Both showed us the storm's beginnings in the Nevada desert. "Sin City became Snow City," narrated Horng over images of the Strip. "The most ever, ever on record since records began in 1937 in Las Vegas," Cantore calculated.


KRAFTY SZAKY NBC's environmental correspondent Anne Thompson offered free publicity to a green start up in Trenton NJ for the What Works series. She introduced us to Tom Szaky, founder of Terracycle, a design business that upcycles instead of recycles, creating consumer goods out of reimagined household trash. Szaky has persuaded Kraft Foods to become a partner to help make its packaging appear more eco-friendly. He makes plant food out of soda bottles; back packs out of juice pouches; household planters out of yoghurt cups. Children love it.