CONTAINING LINKS TO 57176 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JUNE 30, 2008
Presidential candidate Barack Obama, who ended last week with a Story of the Day for his Unity NH photo-op, began this Fourth of July week in the same vein. He delivered a flag-draped speech in Independence Mo: "I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign and I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine." Yet Obama's address hardly had the same pizzazz without Hillary Rodham Clinton by his side. It qualified as Story of the Day more by default than by deserts, since nothing more newsworthy came along. None of the three newscasts treated Obama as its lead: ABC picked the stock market; NBC selected wild fires in Big Sur; CBS chose fighting in Pakistan's tribal areas.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JUNE 30, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignDefies opponents to question his patriotismDean ReynoldsChicago
video thumbnailABC2008 John McCain campaignRecord as Vietnam pilot fails to impress ClarkDavid WrightWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSPakistan fighting along North West FrontierGovernment offensive in tribal areas rebuffedDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailABCZimbabwe politics: election marred by violenceEvidence of intimidation, protests, inflationJim SciuttoZimbabwe
video thumbnailCBSIraq: post-war reconstruction effortsSeek oilfield deals with energy multinationalsElizabeth PalmerBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSOil extraction from Rocky Mountain shale depositsShell Oil experiment heats underground rocksKelly CobiellaColorado
video thumbnailABCNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesMassive June selloff appoaches bear marketDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailNBCReal estate home mortgage appraisal, loan fraudCountrywide executive describes lies in lendingLisa MyersHouston
video thumbnailNBCWild forest fires in western statesBig Sur vistas threatened, tourists stay awayGeorge LewisCalifornia
video thumbnailNBCLionfish exotic species infests Atlantic watersPredator endangers coastal coral ecosystemsMichelle KosinskiBahamas
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
BARACK OBAMA WRAPS HIMSELF IN THE FLAG Presidential candidate Barack Obama, who ended last week with a Story of the Day for his Unity NH photo-op, began this Fourth of July week in the same vein. He delivered a flag-draped speech in Independence Mo: "I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign and I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine." Yet Obama's address hardly had the same pizzazz without Hillary Rodham Clinton by his side. It qualified as Story of the Day more by default than by deserts, since nothing more newsworthy came along. None of the three newscasts treated Obama as its lead: ABC picked the stock market; NBC selected wild fires in Big Sur; CBS chose fighting in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The remarkable thing about Obama's speech was the fact that he felt it was necessary. "He has faced such questions for months," remarked CBS' Dean Reynolds, referring to online whispers that he was somehow unAmerican. ABC's John Berman (embargoed link) spoke of "Internet rumors" from sites like ExposeObama.com about his failure to wear a flag on his jacket or his hand missing from his heart as he pledges allegiance. Berman noted that he made the speech in front of four flags with a fifth pinned to his lapel. His first General Election political ad, Berman added, was a $4m buy to profess his love of country.

The loftiness of Obama's speech was undercut by a soundbite from his surrogate Wesley Clark on CBS' Face the Nation. Clark, a Vietnam War veteran and retired USArmy general, cast this aspersion against John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and former USNavy pilot: "I do not think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President." ABC's David Wright called Clark's comment "especially provocative" given that McCain's experience as prisoner of war "shaped the core of his character." NBC's political director Chuck Todd--in the role that was routinely assigned to the late Tim Russert--offered analysis. Obama's address on patriotism was supposed to be "one of his big ones…he worked very long and hard on it" so surrogate Clark "ended up stepping on the speech and really causing some political pain for Obama."


UNNAMED PENTAGON SOURCES Pentagon correspondents at ABC and CBS selected different hotspots. CBS' David Martin zeroed in on the tribal areas of Pakistan's North West Frontier. Quoting his unnamed "US official" sources, Martin reported that a recent attack on strongholds held by Taliban guerrillas and al-Qaeda leaders around the Khyber Pass had been "ineffective" because militants were "actually tipped off to the coming offensive by sympathizers within the Pakistani military." CBS' Lara Logan suggested it also failed because United States troops on the Afghanistan side of the border were forbidden from crossing into Pakistan to join in. The policy of respecting Pakistani sovereignty was established in order to support President Pervez Musharraf, Logan explained. Now "there is a power vacuum in Pakistan. The government is weak. It is divided. There is no real consensus. They do not have a proper US policy, or even a policy yet, to deal with al-Qaeda and the Taliban."

ABC's Pentagon man Jonathan Karl (embargoed link) reported from his unnamed "senior defense official" source that the Israel Defense Force is likely to launch an airstrike against Iran "before year's end." Karl reported that Israel has two "red lines" that could trigger its raid and one political factor. War will start if Jerusalem believes Teheran's Natanz uranium processing facility is able to produce enough fuel for a bomb or if Iran acquires a Russian SA-20 anti-aircraft defense system. The third factor is the calendar: Israel may want to attack while George Bush is still President because it suspects his successor would be "less supportive."


MUGABE SELECTED PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was sworn in as President of Zimbabwe after ballot intimidation ensured that he won Friday's run-off unopposed. No network correspondent was on hand to document the discredited election but ABC's Jim Sciutto illicitly crossed the border to survey the scene in the town of Hwange. He found "eerily lifeless" streets, a ubiquitous police presence and many anecdotes of ballots spoiled in protest. His driver called the election a "selection of the president." When Sciutto last visited Hwange in April a single US dollar would buy 50m local dollars--now it is worth 10bn.


OIL WAR, WATER FIGHT The news from Iraq came from its Ministry of Oil. In a program to modernize six major oilfields, the ministry has advertised for bids from multinational energy conglomerates for the first time since the sector was nationalized in 1972. NBC's Richard Engel covered the story from the commodity trading floors on Wall Street. CBS' Elizabeth Palmer sat down with Minister Hussein al-Shahristani in Baghdad. "What kind of pressure have you been under from the United States?" "This may surprise you and your audience, but I would say very clear to it. None." NBC's Engel noted that the oilfield contracts may or may not include foreign rights to drill on Iraqi territory. Nevertheless, the mere prospect of US involvement "only reinforces the impression that the United States went to war for oil."

CBS' Kelly Cobiella got access to a previously top secret compound deep in the Rocky Mountains where Shell Oil is testing a "revolutionary approach" for extracting crude oil and natural gas from the massive underground shale deposits in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Shell's technique involves heating the shale to 650F with subterranean electric probes, at which point the oil liquefies and becomes pumpable. Cobiella listed three remaining problems. How to insulate the rock so it does not heat groundwater as well? How to generate the electricity to provide the heat? How to find the water the process requires? She quoted the local maxim: "You talk over whiskey. You fight over water."


NADIR NOT ZENITH ABC led with the fall of the stock market. NBC chose a feature on the failure of the housing market. ABC's David Muir marked the end of June trading on Wall Street with the sober statistic that the retreat from its all-time high last October is close to the 20% that constitutes a bear market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average's fall of 1288 points was the steepest June decline since 1930. ABC anchor Charles Gibson mixed his metaphors by calling that year "the height of the Great Depression"--he meant its depth.

Lisa Myers filed an NBC Investigation into Countrywide Financial, the mortgage lender suspected of making predatory and fraudulent subprime loans. Myers persuaded Mark Zachary, a onetime vice president at Countrywide's Houston office, to go on the record, describing "a corporate culture of shady, possibly illegal, practices." The office nickname for mortgages offered to borrowers who do not qualify for a conventional deal was Liar Loans, "because the income stated on those loans generally is not a true representation of what that person normally makes." Zachary is suing Countrywide. He claims he was fired after ten months for raising his concerns; the firm denies wrongdoing and counters that Zachary was let go for "poor performance."


TO SUR WITH LOVE NBC's pick to lead off its newscast was more weather porn. George Lewis started with fire--the blazing forests in the coastal California mountains above Big Sur--and Kerry Sanders followed up with water, the continuing floods along the Mississippi River. In Winfield Mo, "public works officials theorized a muskrat dug a hole that undermined this entire levee." CBS too assigned a correspondent to survey the California scenery: "It is burning so heavily here now in Big Sur that what is usually a clear view down 60 miles of spectacular coastline just disappears into the smoke," complained John Blackstone.


KING OF THE CORAL JUNGLE Lucky Michelle Kosinski landed an assignment to Nassau for NBC's animal closer. It was really a serious environmental story of the degradation of marine ecosystems by the infestation of an exotic species. But, hey, it is still a weekend in the Bahamas. The lionfish belongs in the Pacific Ocean--or in tropical pet fish tanks in households--but is now spreading across coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean where it finds no natural predator and is gobbling up the natives. Marine biologists have performed DNA analysis on lionfish up and down the Atlantic seaboard and reckon that the entire infestation is the offspring of six ancestors. They swam into the ocean from a Florida aquarium that was destroyed in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew.


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: the USArmy published its official history of the occupation of Iraq after the invasion of 2003: "not well thought out, planned for, or prepared for"…an extra $162bn has been added to the Pentagon budget to pay for unexpected costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan…abdul-Raheem al-Nashiri, an inmate at Guantanamo Bay, has been charged with organizing the bombing of USS Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000…the newly-unhyphenated retailer Walmart has redesigned its logo to eliminate the star that used to punctuate the L and the M.