What is more newsworthy? The political fate of Hillary Rodham Clinton? Or a death toll from Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar that may reach 100,000? Monday, ABC alone of the three newscasts chose the cyclone. Tuesday, only NBC decided to lead with the cyclone rather than the campaign. Now it is CBS' turn, kicking off with the decision by Myanmar's military junta to prevent disaster relief agencies from entering the country. ABC and NBC both led with the Story of the Day: was Rodham Clinton's split decision in Tuesday's Democratic primaries--a narrow win in Indiana, a convincing defeat in North Carolina-- enough to sustain her second-place candidacy?    
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignMired in debt, told nomination is out of reachJake TapperWashington DC
video thumbnailCBS2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignLikely scenarios for end of candidacy outlinedJeff GreenfieldNew York
video thumbnailNBCCyclone Nargis hits coastal MyanmarSurvivors at risk from hunger, thirst, diseaseIan WilliamsThailand
video thumbnailCBSPolice: Philadelphia beating of suspects videotapedNews helicopter shows 15 cops surrounding trioRandall PinkstonPhiladelphia
video thumbnailNBCT'ai Chi is ancient Chinese personal health practiceModern medical monitors demonstrate efficacyRobert BazellCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSGenetic DNA biotech analysis predicts diseasesTesting kits go commercial, cover Alzheimer'sNancy CordesPhiladelphia
video thumbnailABCPrescription drug experiments in clinical trialsPossible cancer lifesaver in tests, unavailableJohn DonvanIndiana
video thumbnailNBCRetailer Home Depot scales back expansionHardware stores beat back big box in VermontMike TaibbiVermont
video thumbnailCBSPersonal finance guru is former shopaholicNow inspirational speaker on debt-free livingRichard SchlesingerCalifornia
video thumbnailNBCIraq: war refugees form humanitarian crisisActivist honored for aid to displaced civiliansRichard EngelBaghdad
WHAT WILL HILLARY DO? What is more newsworthy? The political fate of Hillary Rodham Clinton? Or a death toll from Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar that may reach 100,000? Monday, ABC alone of the three newscasts chose the cyclone. Tuesday, only NBC decided to lead with the cyclone rather than the campaign. Now it is CBS' turn, kicking off with the decision by Myanmar's military junta to prevent disaster relief agencies from entering the country. ABC and NBC both led with the Story of the Day: was Rodham Clinton's split decision in Tuesday's Democratic primaries--a narrow win in Indiana, a convincing defeat in North Carolina-- enough to sustain her second-place candidacy?

Barack Obama was the one who prevailed when the two states' results were combined--he won 99 delegates to 87--yet Rodham Clinton's response led the news agenda. Would she quit the race? "I am staying in this race until there is a nominee," she declared from the stump in West Virginia. Jim Axelrod on CBS heard that several unnamed top advisors had recommended that she compete in just three more states--West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon--and then drop out. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported that she intends "to stay in until all states have voted." To continue, Rodham Clinton decided to lend her campaign an additional $6.4m of her own fortune, expanding her total personal debt to $11.5m. ABC's Jake Tapper outlined a strategy that would result in her victory: she would win four out of the six remaining primaries; she would persuade the Democratic National Committee to change its rules and accept the results in Florida and Michigan; and she would gain the support of the majority of uncommitted superdelegates. Her outlook, Tapper stated, "looks bleak."

Obama had "overwhelmed" Rodham Clinton in North Carolina, NBC's Mitchell noted, pointing to his huge 92% advantage with the African-American vote. CBS' Axelrod observed that Obama's "strong showing strikes at the heart of Rodham Clinton's argument that Democrats are getting cold feet about Obama." ABC's David Wright (at the tail of the Tapper videostream) reported that Obama is now switching his schedule away from primary contests to so-called battleground states: "The General Election simply will not wait."

All three networks offered some Democratic delegate arithmetic. Obama now has 1848 (CBS and NBC, 1852 on ABC) delegates; Rodham Clinton has 1690 (ABC and CBS, 1695 on NBC). There are, more or less, 480 delegates outstanding (217 from primaries, 263 uncommitted superdelegates). Of those 480, Rodham Clinton needs 335, that is 70%: "Absent a complete collapse in the Obama campaign or an act of God, this race is over," NBC's Tim Russert declared.

So ABC's George Stephanopoulos and CBS' Jeff Greenfield rehearsed possible strategies for Rodham Clinton to make a graceful exit. Greenfield suggested inducements such as help with Rodham Clinton's campaign debt and a primetime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention. After all, Greenfield reminded us, her future "may be in front of her as an important senator, perhaps a future Presidential candidate." Joe Trippi, his network's in-house political analyst, predicted "it is going to be the Vernon Jordans, the Charlie Rangels, the Evan Bayhs that come to her and say: 'For the sake of the party…'" On ABC, Stephanopoulos imagined a different circle, consisting of husband Bill, daughter Chelsea, chief of staff Maggie Williams, legal counsel Cheryl Mills, and campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe. Is there a way to negotiate a Vice Presidential nomination for the former First Lady? "I think if it were offered the right way, Yes."

JOHN MCWHO? By the way, did you know that there is a Republican running for President too? NBC reminded us, playing a clip of Ann Curry's (at the head of the O'Donnell videostream) interview for Today with would-be First Lady Cindy McCain: "My husband is absolutely opposed to any negative campaigning at all." Then Kelly O'Donnell, who follows John McCain on the stump, debriefed us on the candidate "speaking to two very different kids of voters simultaneously." To conservatives he presents himself as "very much in the mold" of President George Bush. To independents and Democrats "he is talking about how he is different" from the President.

JUNTA REFUSES AID "Myanmar is facing a grave humanitarian crisis," stated NBC's Ian Williams flatly from Bangkok. The storm surge from Cyclone Nargis destroyed 95% of the structures in the Irrawaddy Delta, he reported, and one million peasants are thought to be homeless. The global relief effort is being stalled, explained CBS' Barry Petersen, because the military junta in Myanmar has refused to allow assessment teams to monitor its delivery "to make sure aid gets to the survivors and not into the pockets of the generals." Celia Hatton, CBS Radio's Bangkok based correspondent, told anchor Katie Couric that the junta is "suspicious of the motives of NGOs and the US government." She cited that widespread belief that the regime "wants to get political credit for distributing aid itself."

ABC's Jim Sciutto reported that France has urged the United Nations to invoke a charter clause known as the Responsibility to Protect Civilians if access continues to be blocked: "That would authorize the delivery of assistance without the permission of Myanmar's military rulers." From the Pentagon, ABC's Jonathan Karl told us that a three-ship humanitarian relief group headed by the USS Essex, with 19 transport helicopters and 1,800 Marines, is in the Gulf of Thailand waiting for an invitation. "There is no indication that Myanmar will accept any US military presence in the country even if it is just to deliver relief supplies."

EYE IN THE SKY Local news footage from Fox 29 in Philadelphia crossed over to the network airwaves. Both ABC's Jim Avila (embargoed link) and CBS' Randall Pinkston narrated clips from eleven minutes of helicopter coverage of the arrest of a trio of suspects for aggravated assault. The arrest seemed aggravated too: a total of 15 different police officers were on the scene "repeatedly kicking and beating the three men, at times using a baton," as CBS' Pinkston described it. ABC's Avila saw "multiple kicks, punches and the use of a baton on the heads and bodies." The 15 cops have been taken off Philly's mean streets and put on desk duty. Avila calculated that the city's murder rate has increased by 50% over the last four years. Pinkston pointed out that three of those killed have been police officers, the latest cop death just two days ago--although that murder was unconnected to the case involving the beaten trio.

MORE & MORE MEDICINE All three networks went healthcare happy for their feature coverage: ABC on Big Pharma, CBS on genetics and NBC on alternative medicine.

NBC's was the most interesting as Robert Bazell filed the final, and superior, instalment of his three-parter The Mind Body Connection. Monday, Bazell offered us a walk-through the lavish Integrative Medicine Center at Duke Unversity where patients pay $3,000 for a wellness evaluation. Tuesday, he told us that "mindful eating" is better than a weight-loss diet for handling the hormonal factors controling our appetite. Now meet Shin Lin, a biophysicist at UCal-Irvine, who is using hi-tech medical monitoring to track the physiological effects of T'ai Chi, the meditation exercise developed in Hunan Province some 450 years ago. Lin uses Doppler laser to measure the blood flow through the extremities; electrodes for brain waves--and claims to detect "tiny amounts of light emissions" as the body goes through its exercise ritual.

On CBS, we saw part two of Your DNA Destiny, a series on genetic testing to screen for high risks of inherited diseases. Tuesday, anchor Katie Couric introduced us to an unlucky family whose bloodline carries Lynch Syndrome. Those with the syndrome have an 80% chance of being afflicted with colon cancer, compared with a 6% chance for the rest of us. Couric introduced us to Gretchen Robertson, a 38-year-old who tested positive, and then delivered similar bad news to her brother John. "The good news is that colon cancer is 90% curable if found early," was Couric's consolation. Nancy Cordes brought us part two on the growing industry of commercial genome screening test kit makers. Cordes consulted the experts and came up with this caveat: "The industry promises more than science can currently deliver because many genes are poor predictors of whether or not you will actually get a disease. Lifestyle and environmental factors also play a major role."

On ABC's A Closer Look, John Donvan investigated the depressing tale of Connie Loughman that her daughter Jackie has publicized on YouTube. Loughman is a terminal pancreatic cancer patient who is ineligible for clinical trials of an experimental medicine developed by GenVec called TNFerade because she had participated in another earlier experiment. Loughman applied to GenVec for a so-called "compassionate use" waiver but GenVec turned her down. Donvan called it "not an uncommon dilemma." If that compassionate TNFerade had been granted and had happened to harm Loughman, he explained, "the FDA could slow the entire approval process to investigate, costing GenVec money and potentially thousands of people from getting a drug that otherwise would be ready."

ELSEWHERE… NBC's Mike Taibbi brought us the jubilation of the Putnams and the St Johns of Brattleboro Vt. They are a pair of families that own Main Street hardware stores, one ACE, one True-Value. A Home Depot opened four years ago and threatened to drive them out of business--but the big box failed first, laying off 80 employees. "No one is cheering that," Taibbi reassured us…Mary Hunt "is in a peculiar position," CBS' Richard Schlesinger observed. "The worse the economy does, the better she does on the lecture circuit." Hunt is a shopaholic turned personal finance guru, who tells the tale of working off $100,000 in bills over 13 years. Now she will do even better, thanks to CBS' free publicity for her book Debt-Proof LivingTime grabbed free publicity for its 100 Most Influential People list from NBC's In Depth. From Baghdad, Richard Engel profile one of the hundred, Madhiha al-Mosuwi, who heads a charity that helps 30,000 internally-displaced war refugees. That is 30,000 out of a total of 2.7m. "The only solution for Iraq is to get people back in their homes," she told Engel.

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: Dmitry Medvedev, the new President of Russia, was sworn in at the Kremlin…the cost of a barrel of crude oil is now $123…the on-time performance of domestic airlines worsened in March…Michael Murphy, the USNavy SEAL who won a posthumous Medal of Honor for his heroism in Afghanistan, will have a destroyer named for him…civil disobedience protests were staged in New York City against the undercover detectives who killed an unarmed Queens NY bridegroom at his bachelor party…a released inmate from detention at Guantanamo Bay was identified as a bomber who blew himself up in Mosul…the population of honey bees continues to be decimated.