CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 16, 2008
A busy day of news saw the Supreme Court give the green light to Death Row for executions to resume…the Democrats prepare for their Presidential candidates' debate in Philadelphia…the mothers of the Yearning for Zion ranch bracing for the loss of custody of their children at a mass hearing in Texas. None of those was the Story of the Day. That honor belonged to Pope Benedict XVI, for the second straight day, as he was feted at the White House. CBS and ABC both led with the Pope, even though ABC anchor Charles Gibson was in Philadelphia, ready to moderate that Democratic debate in primetime. Even though NBC had Brian Williams anchor from Washington DC he did not lead with the Pope and the President. Instead he chose the grocery aisle, where the cost of food continues to climb.    
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video thumbnailCBSPope Benedict XVI visits DC, NYCGreeted at White House by President BushByron PittsWashington DC
video thumbnailABCDeath Penalty controversiesSupreme Court upholds lethal injection methodJan Crawford GreenburgSupreme Court
video thumbnailNBC2008 Pennsylvania primary previewedDebate previewed, rehash of recent controversiesLee CowanPhiladelphia
video thumbnailABC2008 Presidential race opinion poll standingsABC News finds Rodham Clinton favorability dropJake TapperPhiladelphia
video thumbnailNBCMormon fundamentalist sect practices polygamyMothers use news media to deny abuse chargesDon TeagueTexas
video thumbnailNBCSupermarket grocery food prices escalateCosts of meat, dairy, cereal, transport riseErin BurnettNew York
video thumbnailCBSOil, natural gas, gasoline pricesCrude hikes from falling dollar, speculationJosh Landis & Mitch ButlerNew York
video thumbnailCBSGuns: firearms control regulations debateBan on sales to mentally ill implemented slowlyChip ReidVirginia
video thumbnailNBCLumber industry innovations to be eco-friendlyNo-clear-cut sustainable logging saves forestsAnne ThompsonCalifornia
video thumbnailABCSanta Monica pier has famous Ferris wheelFor sale on eBay, some assembly requiredBrian RooneyCalifornia
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
AWESOME BENEDICT THE BIRTHDAY BOY A busy day of news saw the Supreme Court give the green light to Death Row for executions to resume…the Democrats prepare for their Presidential candidates' debate in Philadelphia…the mothers of the Yearning for Zion ranch bracing for the loss of custody of their children at a mass hearing in Texas. None of those was the Story of the Day. That honor belonged to Pope Benedict XVI, for the second straight day, as he was feted at the White House. CBS and ABC both led with the Pope, even though ABC anchor Charles Gibson was in Philadelphia, ready to moderate that Democratic debate in primetime. Even though NBC had Brian Williams anchor from Washington DC he did not lead with the Pope and the President. Instead he chose the grocery aisle, where the cost of food continues to climb.

The 13,000-or-so faithful who crowded the south lawn to hear the Holy Father formed the "largest White House crowd in the history of the Bush Administration," announced ABC's Dan Harris (embargoed link) somewhat grandiosely. He contrasted this Pope's "modest majesty" with his predecessor's charisma. There really was not much news to be made. It happened to be the pontiff's 81st birthday so he was serenaded. When Bush finished listening to Benedict's remarks, NBC's Natalie Morales played his response: "Awesome speech" and when First Lady Laura Bush wore a light-colored suit behind His Holiness, Morales muttered that that was "not in keeping with papal protocol--only the Pope is supposed to wear white."

On CBS, Byron Pitts made an effort to treat the visit as serious Vatican diplomacy. Pitts cited areas where the two heads of state see eye to eye--issues such as stem cell research, abortion, homosexual marriages--and a key topic on which they differ, the war in Iraq. Yet in all, "the Pope's comments were more pastoral than political."


NOT CRUEL, NOT UNUSUAL Pope Benedict XVI would have found himself in the minority if he had been visiting the judicial branch of the United States government instead. By a vote of 7-2 the Supreme Court found nothing "cruel and unusual" about using a cocktail of injections to kill prisoners. All three networks had a correspondent at the high court to cover the decision. After a seven month moratorium this decision "in effect restores capital punishment in America," declared CBS' Wyatt Andrews. NBC's Pete Williams counted 18 planned executions in ten states that had been postponed pending the ruling and "dozens more that were not even scheduled." ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg saw killings under way imminently in Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi. She quoted Justice Clarence Thomas as ruling that "lethal injection is designed to eliminate pain rather than to inflict it" and Justice John Paul Stevens, who found no objection to the specific method of execution, as finding the entire system of capital punishment to be "a pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purpose." The Bishop of Rome no doubt concurs.


WRIGHT, SNIPER, BITTER ABC News is hosting the Philadelphia debate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. Anchor Charles Gibson discussed the agenda with his partner George Stephanopoulos, host of the network's Sunday morning show This Week. Gibson pointed out that seven weeks have elapsed since the two candidates have gone head to head. Stephanopoulos called it "the longest stretch between debates of this entire campaign season." In the interim, he reminded us, the Rev Jeremiah Wright, sniper fire in Tuzla and bitter and clinging small town voters have all entered the vocabulary. On NBC, Lee Cowan anticipated questions on those very lines.

NBC's Cowan played a clip of Obama's wife Michelle on Comedy Central's Colbert Report trying to defang criticism of her husband's imputed elitism by joking about her working class roots on the South Side of Chicago. Meanwhile, Cowan noted, Obama made $3.9m last year from sales of his books. CBS' Bob Schieffer observed that Rodham Clinton's attacks have "sort of halted the momentum" that Obama had been building in Pennsylvania but he cited poll results from ABC News--mentioning only the Washington Post half of that polling partnership--that show Rodham Clinton "paying a price" of a diminished reputation for trustworthiness. ABC, obviously, was not shy about crediting its own role in those poll findings. Jake Tapper ticked off not only untrustworthiness as a Rodham Clinton failing, but also dishonesty and unfavorability and negativity and irrelevance: "Almost half of Democrats now say the candidates are arguing about things that really are not that important."


COMMUNITY OR COMMUNE? The issues in the Texas child custody case concerning the 416 children and teenagers taken from the Yearning for Zion ranch were thrashed out on all three networks. CBS and NBC both filed from the scene, after visiting the mothers of the polygamous sect. CBS' Hari Sreenivasan showed us their pictures of the raid with "heavily-armed police in body armor" arriving to take the children away. He asked: "Is it OK for a young woman who is still a teenager to be married to a man that could be twice her age?" "If that happened she would be very much loved and taken care of." For NBC's In Depth Don Teague was told that "this is not a compound, it is a community" as he was given a guided tour of 20 separate family homes, woodworking and metal shops, a cheese factory, fields with heavy farm equipment, orchards and a schoolhouse.

On ABC from New York, Jim Avila (embargoed link) explained the legal arguments behind the FLDS sect's field trips: "This rogue group of fundamentalist Mormons says the multiple dormitories prove it is not one big household" and therefore abuse of a given child does not constitute evidence that everyone else is in danger. Child welfare authorities argue, on the other hand, that the 600 are "living commune style, in fact one household" so a single underage pregnancy constitutes evidence of a danger of statutory rape for all. "Texas officials do have hurdles," noted Avila, "struggling to document the ages of pregnant girls because there are no records of their birthdays."


PORK BELLY BETS NBC's decision to lead with an economic story was a peculiar one on such a busy day of breaking news. Erin Burnett of CNBC, NBC's sibling financial news cable channel, recycled old news as she ticked of the "skyrocketing price of food" over the last twelve months: chicken up 10% , milk 25%, bread 16%, eggs 35%. Annual meal costs in the New York City school system have gone up from $120m to $150m. She warned: "Often that means more nutritious options are abandoned" and to save money, for example, chicken nuggets replace seafood. The rising cost of a barrel of crude oil was the topic of CBS' animated Fast Draw explainer. Josh Landis and Mitch Butler told us to forget about the laws of supply and demand since more than a third of today's $114 price is explained by a pair of financial factors instead: the declining value of the US dollar; and speculators betting that the value of commodities will rise--not only oil but "gold, wheat, pork bellies" too.


PREVAILING ATTITUDES Exactly a year ago, Seung-Hui Cho, a suicidal student at Virginia Tech, killed 32 others on campus before ending his own life. CBS anchor Katie Couric observed that the university's first anniversary commemorations honored the 32 but "made no mention of the gunman." NBC's Michelle Kosinski and ABC's David Kerley (embargoed link) attended the observances while CBS' Thalia Assuras got a guided tour of an exhibit of some of the 85,000-or-so messages of condolence the Hokies received from around the world. The collection is called the Prevail Archive.

ABC's Kerley noted that a lesson has been learned nationwide: "Nearly every university campus has added security systems…card swipes for access to dorms, new sirens to sound an alarm, an improved text messaging system to issue warnings." Not so responsive has been the FBI's system to regulate the sale of firearms. The killer Cho should, by law, have been unable to arm himself because of his medical history of mental illness. CBS' Chip Reid noted that Congress had offered incentives for states to add those with mental health disqualifications to the FBI's database yet it still contains only 402K of the 2.6m names that should be entered and "17 states have yet to send a single name to the FBI."


GREENHOUSE PLAN IGNORED Besides meeting Pope Benedict XVI, President George Bush tried to make news on the environment. He unveiled a deadline of 2025 for the United States to stop increasing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the greenhouse gas blamed for climate change. The lame duck had no takers. None of the newscasts thought this proposal newsworthy enough to assign a reporter to cover it, although ABC and CBS mentioned it in passing. NBC ended with a green Our Planet feature as Anne Thompson visited the Collins Pine Company in northern California. Its trees are not clear cut but logged sustainably, so the forest never loses more lumber to the saw mill than it grows naturally each year.


SEA VIEW NOT INCLUDED ABC sent Brian Rooney to the beach for its closer to offer free publicity to a $50,000 item for sale on eBay. The pier at Santa Monica wants to replace its Ferris wheel so it is auctioning off its old one. Once dismantled, it weighs 122K lbs, so "shipping and handling are not included" and there is some assembly required.


MENTIONED IN PASSING The network newscasts do not assign correspondents to all of the news of the day. If Tyndall Report readers come across videostreamed reports online of stories that were mentioned only in passing, post the link in comments for us to check out.

Today's examples: a total of 491 people died nationwide in general aviation accidents last year; none in domestic commercial airline accidents…chicken packinghouses run by Pilgrim's Pride were targeted in a dragnet raid searching for visaless immigrant workers…fast food outlets in New York City must post a calorie count next to each menu item…a pair of firefighters was killed in forest blazes in Colorado…the FBI's DNA fingerprint registry will be expanded to include everyone the feds arrest and any foreigner who is detained, even if not charged.