CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MAY 27, 2008
Negative economic statistics dominated the headlines. ABC led with the increasing price of gasoline. CBS and NBC led with the Story of the Day, the falling value of homes. A quarterly survey by Standard & Poors of the 20 largest metropolitan areas found that houses sold for 14% less in the first three months of 2008 than a year previously. That was the steepest overall reduction in real estate values in two decades, with 19 out of the 20 markets suffering downturns. Las Vegas was worst; Charlotte the single city staying above water.    
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video thumbnailNBCReal estate housing market prices continue to fallDecline has negative consumer ripple effectCarl QuintanillaNew York
video thumbnailCBSReal estate housing market prices continue to fallValues in major cities fall at 14% annual rateAnthony MasonNew York
video thumbnailABCOil, natural gas, gasoline pricesAverage cost at pump jumps to nearly $4/gallonSharyn AlfonsiNew York
video thumbnailNBCAutomobile fuel efficiency standards, techniquesDetroit develops hybrids, batteries, hydrogenTom CostelloMichigan
video thumbnailABC2008 John McCain campaignAvoids publicity for President Bush fundraiserRon ClaiborneNew York
video thumbnailNBC2008 John McCain campaignVows never to surrender in Iraq WarAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSOrganized crime: Russian, Asian mobs targeted by FBIAgent's hoax wedding lured foreign gangstersArmen KeteyianNew Jersey
video thumbnailABCIraq: civilian contractors provide logistics supportGrand jury for Blackwater's Baghdad killingsBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSIraq: fine artists' paintings evoke horror of warBaghdad collection at New York City galleryRichard SchlesingerNew York
video thumbnailCBSMovie director Sydney Pollack dies, aged 73ObituaryKatie CouricNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
HOUSES ARE WORTH LESS--GASOLINE COSTS MORE Negative economic statistics dominated the headlines. ABC led with the increasing price of gasoline. CBS and NBC led with the Story of the Day, the falling value of homes. A quarterly survey by Standard & Poors of the 20 largest metropolitan areas found that houses sold for 14% less in the first three months of 2008 than a year previously. That was the steepest overall reduction in real estate values in two decades, with 19 out of the 20 markets suffering downturns. Las Vegas was worst; Charlotte the single city staying above water.

"The downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed," warned CBS' Anthony Mason while ABC's Chris Bury (embargoed link) declared that "the housing downbeat goes on." Bury's rule of thumb was that a healthy housing market has a six-moth supply of unsold property. The excess inventory now stands at ten months. NBC had Carl Quintanilla of CNBC, its sibling financial news cable channel, outline the ripple effect of "the worst housing market in a generation." Those falling sales along with high gasoline prices, food inflation, a shaky job market and cutbacks for small business find the current index of consumer confidence at its "lowest in 16 years."

In eleven of the 50 states, ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi told us, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline has already surpassed $4. The 15c week-over-week increase in the national average to $3.94 is the biggest jump ever "except for after a hurricane." NBC sent Tom Costello off on a weeklong series dubbed Running on Empty to illustrate the impact of costly oil. His first stop was a General Motors testing track for the new Volt hybrid outside Detroit: "GM is gambling billions that an enormous cellphone battery can power a car." The Volt would run 40 miles on 80c worth of electricity, 40c off peak, before its reserve gas tank kicked in. The car would cost $45,000--a bargain, GM hopes, if gasoline were to cost between $5 and $6 a gallon.

Because economic developments usually consist of abstract statistics, television news finds itself in a continual quest to put an anecdotal human face on hard times. CBS' effort has consisted of an occasional series dubbed Hitting Home. Ben Tracy filed the latest entry from Los Angeles, where he tried to illustrate the ripple effect of belt tightening. He started with an event planner who has had to cut the budget for his parties…so he buys less expensive flowers…and has fewer events for his hostess to work…so she has canceled her gym membership…and goes to the movies less often…and no longer has her eyebrows trimmed at the salon…so the beautician earns lower tips…meaning that she no longer buys coffee when she gets to work…and packs her lunch at home…

NBC presented similar anecdotes of belt-tightening with a First Person feature, which invited viewers to share e-mail examples for anchor Brian Williams to read of skimping on Memorial Day fun and CBS anchor Katie Couric announced that her newscast would add an occasional vox pop feature dubbed We The People--its first collection of soundbites, naturally, concerned the high price of gasoline.


HAT IN HAND All three networks played Democrat Barack Obama's taunt against Republican John McCain that he "does not want to be seen hat in hand with the President." Accordingly a GOP fundraiser with George Bush that was "originally supposed to be an open event at the Phoenix Convention Center," as ABC's Ron Claiborne put it, was closed to the news media and moved to a private home. NBC's Andrea Mitchell teased McCain for his attempts to keep his ties to Bush under wraps: "When you are riding a big plane with the Presidential seal you cannot slink into town unnoticed." CBS anchor Katie Couric asked her colleague Bob Schieffer of Face the Nation what he thought: "Here is one of the oldest traditions in American politics" he answered. "All the players are playing their parts right on script"--Bush raises the funds; McCain avoids public contact; Obama suggests "some kind of mysterious goings-on out in the shadows." Schieffer reckoned that the President "knows this game and frankly I think he enjoys it."


FAKE CIGARETTES, FAKE WEDDING CBS' Investigation continued the saga that Armen Keteyian began two weeks ago of Louie and Z, the pair of undercover FBI agents posing as Atlantic City wise guys. The first part featured tales of infiltrating the Russian mob. Now we hear about Operation Royal Charm, a hoax wedding that lured leaders of gangs from Canada, Thailand and China into the United States so they could be arrested. Royal Charm was the name of the luxury yacht on which the knot was supposed to be tied. Keteyian explained that "Asian organized crime traffics in everything from human cargo to fake Viagra to ecstasy to weapons." Its specialty is counterfeit brands, with "cigarettes the biggest moneymaker." A carton selling for $70 can be faked in China for as little as $6.


EYEWITNESS PAINTINGS Witnesses and fine art flew in from Baghdad. The four witnesses testified before a Washington DC grand jury about last fall's killings of 17 Iraqi civilians by diplomatic bodyguards working for Blackwater Worldwide in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. ABC's Brian Ross reported that prosecutors are focusing on three or four of the guards. Mohammed abdul-Razzaq, a motorist in the square, described his nine-year-old son Ali in the back seat, shot dead through the head. Blackwater claimed its convoy had been under attack by gunmen. "It was a true massacre. It was a slaughter," asserted abdul-Razzaq. "None if us was armed." Ross added that Blackwater's security contract in Iraq has been renewed for five years by the State Department for $1.2bn. The fine art consisted of a collection of paintings on display at a New York City gallery collected by Christopher Brownfield, while he was serving in the USNavy in Baghdad. Artist Mohammed al-Hamadany has confined his palette to black and red since the war began, CBS' Richard Schlesinger told us, "black for oil and greed, red for violence and hatred."


HE SHOT MOVIES, DIDN’T HE? The death of movie director Sydney Pollack at age 73 was noted by each of the network anchors. All three noted Pollack's most acclaimed titles: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Out of Africa, Tootsie. CBS' Katie Couric claimed he made "comedies like Tootsie" while ABC's Charles Gibson (embargoed link) noted "actually it was the only comedy he ever directed." NBC's Brian Williams added in Three Days of the Condor and Absence of Malice; he and Couric both mentioned The Way We Were. Noting Pollack's skill directing big-name actors, Couric told us that his films accounted for twelve different acting nominations for Academy Awards.

By the way, CBS' Couric also mentioned the death of Earle Hagen, aged 88, who composed Fishin' Hole, the theme to the treacly, pre-Civil-Rights North Carolina sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. Couric, displaying controversially corny taste, called Griffith her "very favorite" TV show. Not at all corny was the TV comedy marked by NBC's Williams: Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In co-host Dick Martin died, aged 86.


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: in Myanmar, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest…the Supreme Court relaxed rules for workers to file age discrimination lawsuits…all three network anchors will join to publicize Stand Up To Cancer, a primetime fundraiser that airs this summer…Big Brown, the thoroughbred that needs to win the Belmont Stakes to complete horse racing's Triple Crown, returned to the track after a stress fracture.