CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MAY 23, 2008
The start of the Memorial Day weekend was marked variously by the network newscasts and Presidential candidate John McCain. NBC sent anchor Brian Williams off to Indianapolis where he marked the beginning of summer from the Brickyard, previewing Sunday's 500 and making the holiday his lead. McCain adhered to the tradition of the Document Dump, choosing a pre-holiday Friday afternoon, the lightest news environment on the calendar, to release intrusive personal information--in this case his own medical records and his heiress wife's millionaire income. CBS led from the McCain campaign, which qualified as the Story of the Day. ABC too chose the campaign as its lead, selecting Hillary Rodham Clinton abject apology for an inartful reference to the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MAY 23, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBC2008 John McCain campaignReleases voluminous medical records to reportersNancy SnydermanArizona
video thumbnailABC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignInvokes June assassination of RFK, apologizesJake TapperWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCMemorial Day holiday weekendTravel is lighter, barbecues more expensiveJanet ShamlianAtlanta
video thumbnailABCCyclone Nargis hits coastal MyanmarUN diplomacy secures international aid accessDan HarrisMyanmar
video thumbnailCBSSichuan Province earthquake in China: Richter 7.9Hospitals overwhelmed by amputation patientsCelia HattonChina
video thumbnailCBSSalmon fishery depleted in northern CaliforniaFleet inactive, receives $174m federal subsidySharyl AttkissonWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCMormon fundamentalist sect practices polygamySome children return as welfare case is appealedDon TeagueTexas
video thumbnailNBCAuto racing: Indianapolis 500 previewedDriver Danica Patrick has become household wordBrian WilliamsIndiana
video thumbnailCBSNASCAR auto racing circuit popularity stallsTraveling fans in RVs face high diesel costsAnthony MasonNorth Carolina
video thumbnailCBSToy train set goes lifesize in Iowa backyardHomemade half-mile track operated as hobbySteve HartmanIowa
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
DOCUMENT DUMP GREETS MEMORIAL WEEKEND The start of the Memorial Day weekend was marked variously by the network newscasts and Presidential candidate John McCain. NBC sent anchor Brian Williams off to Indianapolis where he marked the beginning of summer from the Brickyard, previewing Sunday's 500 and making the holiday his lead. McCain adhered to the tradition of the Document Dump, choosing a pre-holiday Friday afternoon, the lightest news environment on the calendar, to release intrusive personal information--in this case his own medical records and his heiress wife's millionaire income. CBS led from the McCain campaign, which qualified as the Story of the Day. ABC too chose the campaign as its lead, selecting Hillary Rodham Clinton abject apology for an inartful reference to the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968.

CBS anchor Katie Couric asked her in-house physician Jon LaPook and CNN's medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta to compare notes on the highlights of McCain's 1,200 page medical history. "They gave us three hours, essentially to look over them," Gupta complained. "It is kind of like medical school and residency all wrapped into one." The notes came from eight separate physicians, all at the Mayo Clinic: "He is obviously very serious about getting his healthcare"--and expense is clearly no object for the McCain household. His wife has a $6m annual paycheck: "Cindy McCain is very, very wealthy," NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asserted. Dr LaPook imagined how he would advise McCain if he were one of those doctors and was asked whether running for President was good for his health. "I would say: 'Go for it. Go ahead.'"

McCain's most serious condition was melanoma, a malignant skin cancer that was removed in 2000. At the time, Dr Gupta pointed out, he was told he had a 66% chance of the cancer recurring by 2010, which would be the second year of his Presidency if elected. NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman noted that so far there is "no evidence of recurrence. It is a positive sign but still requires constant surveillance." She suggested that McCain might undergo "scans of his brain, lungs and liver just to make sure the melanoma is under control prior to the election in November." Otherwise she ticked off his "high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, vertigo and allergies--all under control."

ABC did not assign a reporter to check on McCain's medical history, although anchor Charles Gibson pointed out that the candidate was once a "two pack a day smoker." CNN's Gupta was surprised "there was hardly any mention of his mental health," no mention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Vietnam War veteran, no mention of substance abuse--apart from that nicotine.

ABC did have George Stephanopoulos comment on the campaign craft of the medical release: "He has unloaded a lot of heavy baggage this week," adding severed ties to lobbyists and televangelists to his health and his wife's finances. "In politics, this is called a Document Dump," NBC's O'Donnell spelled it out, "when fewer people are paying attention, they release this information."


RODHAM CLINTON INVOKES BOBBY KENNEDY Why is Hillary Rodham Clinton still running for the Democratic nomination as late as May when the odds are so stacked against her? That was the question, posed by the Argus Leader editorial board in South Dakota, that provoked this freighted phrase as part of her response: "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California." When her rival Barack Obama observed that such wording had no place in this campaign, ABC's Jake Tapper characterized her response as "a very rare apology." She voiced her "regret" if her reference "was in any way offensive." Tapper told us that what she meant to say was that RFK "had been campaigning in June not that he was assassinated then." When she has mentioned RFK previously, Tapper told us, "she has usually been a lot more delicate."

The Obama campaign did not make a big deal out of Rodham Clinton's mortification. CBS' Jim Axelrod reported on their belief that the remarks "were unfortunate not sinister" and NBC's Lee Cowan quoted Obama chief strategist David Axelrod as insisting that "he cannot believe that she actually meant that she was waiting for harm" to come to Obama. "She has every right to stay in this race as long as she wants," Axelrod added. ABC's George Stephanopoulos stated that there have been no formal talks between the two camps about an endgame yet two of Rodham Clinton's key supporters--Sen Dianne Feinstein and former President Bill Clinton--both now support a slot for her as Obama's running mate.


BREAK OUT THE WEBER GRILL "Normally on this Getaway Day we would be at the airport or along the Interstate talking about packed planes or jammed roads," NBC's Janet Shamlian remarked, invoking that hoariest staple of holiday weekend TV journalism. This time neither she nor David Muir (embargoed link) on ABC went through those rituals because the high price of gasoline has encouraged hundreds of thousands to choose a backyard barbecue instead of an out of town road trip. CBS skipped a getaway assignment altogether. "Even staying home will cost you more this year," Muir complained. Both hot dogs and their buns--and even movie theater popcorn--are growing pricier.


DATELINE NAYPYIDAW Dan Harris of ABC is the only American television reporter in the traveling entourage of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as he conducts his United Nations diplomacy in Myanmar. Thus Harris could boast the rarest of datelines, Naypyidaw, "Myanmar's new capital city, a normally off-limits place that typifies the junta's excesses and its paranoia." A Burmese Brasilia, "there are towering buildings under construction, wide eerily empty boulevards and swank hotels." The military regime relocated abruptly under Gen Than Shwe three years ago, "apparently on the advice of his personal astrologer."

Ban announced that Shwe had agreed to upon the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy Delta to disaster relief and international aid workers after almost three weeks of stonewalling. Harris had followed Ban to the delta Thursday where the junta had staged a disaster relief photo-op of sanitized tents. NBC obtained a clandestine report from Tom Ewart (no link) from a village within sight of that neat blue line of canvas: "In the village itself there has been no sign of government help" since Cyclone Nargis struck. The government activity Ewart did observe was trucks carrying riot police, "a sure sign there are fears of new demonstrations with the United Nations in town and the world watching."


WHERE IS THE REST OF ME? The earthquake death toll in China's southwestern Sichuan Province is now 56,000 with another 25,000 unaccounted for. CBS sent Celia Hatton to meet the surviving injured. She visited Chengdu's Huaxi Hospital where a Dr Zeng Jiancheng's roll of patients, usually 200, is now 800. Hatton introduced us to He Chuan Tao, a smiling 22-year-old chemical factory worker: "When I woke up my legs were gone…I have had some bad luck but I was fortunate compared to others." Office worker Luo Ling told Hatton about her six colleagues: "They sent out a phone message calling for help but none came in time. They were found dead, all holding hands."


FISH TALE CBS had John Blackstone cover the San Francisco angle on the crisis in northern California's stocks of salmon back in March. He visited Fisherman's Wharf when its Pacific salmon fleet was idled to conserve dwindling wild stocks. Now Blackstone's colleague Sharyl Attkisson files a Follow the Money feature on the inside-the-Beltway angle that is much less sympathetic to those fishless fishermen. Attkisson explained that it helps that Nancy Pelosi represents them in Congress. The Speaker inserted a $174m earmark in federal farm legislation to preserve the boats' income even as they stand idle. Attkisson explained that each boat selects its most lucrative year between 2002 and 2005 and receives a government check "for that entire amount," some in excess of $100,000. "Reeling it on," Attkisson concluded.


THE LAW’S DELAY Only NBC had a reporter file a follow-up to Thursday's Story of the Day, the ruling by an appeals court in Texas that child welfare authorities had no evidence to justify removing every single fundamentalist Mormon child and young teenager from the Yearning for Zion ranch near San Angelo. Don Teague told us that just twelve of the children are being reunited with their parents immediately. As for the other 400-or-so scattered in facilities from Amarillo to Corpus Christi, if the case goes on to the Supreme Court of Texas "the children could remain in foster care indefinitely."


FORMER NASCAR ANCHOR When Brian Williams first became anchor of NBC Nightly News, he used to like to cite his love for NASCAR as evidence of his populist touch. How fickle he now seems as he lavished praise on Danica Patrick for Making a Difference as she prepares to race in the Indianapolis 500. Danica, Williams gushed, is now close to the most popular name for a newborn girl in America. "Having pregnant women screaming: 'I am going to name my baby Danica!' I do not know what to say." "What is the proper response?" "Thank you, I guess." Williams is not alone in turning his back on NASCAR. CBS' loyal Anthony Mason, who spurned the Indy 500 for the Coca-Cola 600 at Concord NC, told us that "no other major American sport has been hurt more" by high oil prices. That is because the average fan makes a 400-mile round trip to attend a race, many traveling in a diesel guzzling recreational vehicle, to make a camping weekend out of the adventure.

Tyndall Report has none of it. Our weekend's motor sport entertainment will be neither Indy nor NASCAR--but Formula 1. I plan to watch the Monaco Grand Prix, racing past the casino and the swimming pool and through the tunnel, to see if anyone can prevent Ferrari from racking up yet another champagne moment.


DO THE LOCOMOTION To close the week, CBS' whimsical Steve Hartman offered more whimsy than ever for Assignment America. He found Jim Halverson, a 61-year-old Iowa bachelor, who has revived his inner five-year-old's love for toy trains by building a life-sized half-mile track round his property. While Halverson has spent 20 years constructing small toys on a human scale, Hartman returned the favor by digitally placing himself on a Lionel-sized platform: "Making my ego that small was the hard part," he confessed to anchor Katie Couric.


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 construction crane collapse in high winds at a Kansas City power plant killed one…the clean-up is starting from Thursday's killer tornado in Colorado…coastal fog along California's Santa Cruz Mountains slowed wild forest fires…the humpback whale population of the northern Pacific Ocean is rebounding…Melanie Roach, with mother of an autistic boy who was ABC's Person of the Week has qualified for as a USA weightlifter at the Beijing Olympic Games.