CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM JANUARY 19, 2009
For the third straight weekday, the Story of the Day occupied the lion's share of the nightly newscasts. All three networks sent their anchors to Washington to preview Barack Obama's inauguration ceremonies. Those previews totaled 65% of the three-network newshole (37 min out of 58), almost identical to the coverage given to the crash of USAirways Flight 1549 last Thursday and Friday (37 min and 36 min). The President-elect himself decided to concentrate on today rather than tomorrow: Martin Luther King Day rather than Inauguration Day. Observing MLK as a Day of Service, he volunteered to paint a shelter for homeless teenagers and ABC and CBS chose to lead with his community service. NBC led with its inaugural preview.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR JANUARY 19, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCPresident Obama inauguration ceremoniesPreview on final day as President-electChuck ToddWhite House
video thumbnailCBSPresident Obama inauguration ceremoniesKeys to successful Inaugural speech outlinedJeff GreenfieldCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCPresident Obama inauguration ceremoniesSecurity tight despite lack of specific threatsPete WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailABCPresident Obama inauguration ceremoniesDC Mall will be jam-packed with celebrantsDavid MuirWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCPresident Obama inauguration ceremoniesCitizens from across nation flock to WashingtonRon AllenWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSPresident Obama inauguration ceremoniesMemorabilia business booms, buttons, T-shirtsAnthony MasonOhio
video thumbnailCBSMartin Luther King Day holiday observancesPresident-elect Obama leads Day of ServiceChip ReidCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCObama Presidency policy problems previewedShould he pay special attention to black issues?Pierre ThomasWashington DC
video thumbnailABCSlavery historyLabor in bondage built Capitol, White HouseDavid WrightWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIsrael-Palestinian conflictWidespread destruction of Gaza Strip exposedAllen PizzeyGaza
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
MLK DAY HOLIDAY IS INAUGURATION EVE For the third straight weekday, the Story of the Day occupied the lion's share of the nightly newscasts. All three networks sent their anchors to Washington to preview Barack Obama's inauguration ceremonies. Those previews totaled 65% of the three-network newshole (37 min out of 58), almost identical to the coverage given to the crash of USAirways Flight 1549 last Thursday and Friday (37 min and 36 min). The President-elect himself decided to concentrate on today rather than tomorrow: Martin Luther King Day rather than Inauguration Day. Observing MLK as a Day of Service, he volunteered to paint a shelter for homeless teenagers and ABC and CBS chose to lead with his community service. NBC led with its inaugural preview.

NBC's Chuck Todd ran down Obama's appointment calendar for Tuesday morning: an overnight stay at Blair House, coffee at the White House with his predecessor, a motorcade to Capitol Hill. Then comes the speech. Todd noted Obama's "thoughtful approach" to public speaking. George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC's This Week contrasted that with his former boss: "Bill Clinton back in 1992 basically did an all-nighter, past four o'clock in the morning." CBS' Jeff Greenfield summed up "215 years, 42 men, 55 speeches, most of them forgotten as soon as the words were spoken." He came up with three lone exceptions: Abraham Lincoln's second With Malice Towards None; Franklin Roosevelt's first Unscrupulous Moneychangers; and John Kennedy's only Let us Never Negotiate out of Fear; but Let us Never Fear to Negotiate.

CBS' Bill Plante played show-and-tell with the Lincoln Bible, which Obama will use to take the oath of office. "It is not really the Lincoln family bible," Plante explained. Lincoln had to slip into Washington in the middle of the night for fear of an assassin so he left his belongings en route. The bible on which he swore was one of several kept in storage at the Supreme Court for ceremonial purposes.

Besides Stephanopoulos, both NBC and CBS invited commentary from their Sunday morning hosts. Bob Schieffer of CBS' Face the Nation was impressed with the bipartisan "feeling of goodwill" in the nation's capital. NBC's David Gregory from Meet the Press remarked on the engagement of the citizenry in politics.


ON GUARD AGAINST NO KNOWN THREAT "May be overkill," was how Bob Orr summarized criticism of the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the District of Columbia Police Department to keep the inauguration secure. "For some the restrictions are too much," NBC's Pete Williams reflected. Both reporters illustrated the precautions: traffic banned from a three square mile zone around the Mall; machine-gun powerboats patrolling the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers; a strict no-fly zone around Capitol Hill; bomb-sniffing dogs and surveillance cameras. As for the threat to the ceremonies, "nothing specific and credible," unidentified sources told NBC's Williams; "no known threat," they told CBS' Orr.


PARTY DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA All three anchors were impressed with the mood in the nation's capital. "This town has really taken on a party atmosphere," CBS' Katie Couric stated. "Wall to wall people," ABC's Charles Gibson put it, "hotels full, streets stalled, sidewalks jammed." For NBC's Brian Williams the city was "packed with visitors, choked with security, positively buzzing with excitement." ABC's Gibson personalized that buzz by completing his network's Road to the Inauguration series, which had followed the road trip of Nikki Lecompte, a New Orleans mother of five, living in Houston since Hurricane Katrina, who drove with her family to Washington by way of Selma, the Civil-Rights-era hotspot. "No tickets to anything?" "Nope." "Not going to any balls?" "No." "And they did not invite you to the White House?" "No." "And you are not sitting up there on the podium?" "No" "And you probably could be a mile away?" "Probably." "But still worth it?" "Still worth it."

CBS' Sharyl Attkisson speculated that for Washington, the Inauguration "may be the biggest event here in history." The District of Columbia does not allow camping so celebrants "plan to sleep in their cars and on tour buses." NBC's Ron Allen was less definitive, estimating that it was "one of the largest" pilgrimages ever to the nation's capital. ABC's David Muir followed measurements calculated at the University of Illinois to offer a cute show-and-tell to illustrate what a standing-room-only crowd of one million would look like on the DC Mall: each person would have as much elbow room as someone standing on an opened newspaper; with a two-million-person crowd there would not even be enough space to turn around. Total installation of Port-A Potties: 5,000.


WOODRUFF’S CORPORATE CROSS-PROMOTION ABC's Bob Woodruff stretched for the children's angle plus the wounded veteran's angle plus the celebrity angle simultaneously when he covered the Inaugural Concert for an audience of 13,000 being hosted by the First Lady-to-be and the Second Lady-to-be--that is Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The performers will include Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers and the audience will include children whose parents were casualties of war while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was a fourth angle to Woodruff's story too--corporate cross-promotion. The concert will be televised by ABC's corporate parent Disney on its teen-targeted cable channel.


SPIDERMAN IS AN OBAMAMAN How to assign the network's business correspondent to cover Inauguration Day? CBS sent Anthony Mason to Ohio to the factory of Tiger Eye Design, which manufactures campaign buttons. Since Barack Obama hit the scene its business has grown tenfold: "He is a one-man economic stimulus package!" Mason exclaimed, as he checked out Obama memorabilia. QVC shopping channel on cable TV expects to sell to 200,000 Obamaniacs. Do not forget the Obama action figure nor Marvel Comics' collectors' item Spidey Meets the President. The issue "sold out in hours."


HAUNTED BY SLAVERY & JIM CROW Lest we forget that this is a national holiday in its own right, not just Inauguration Eve, the new White House correspondents at CBS and ABC followed Barack Obama's lead and made his volunteer service their angle. Both ABC's Jake Tapper and CBS' Chip Reid followed the President-elect to a District of Columbia homeless shelter for teenage boys where he joined in the painting. "I do hope they are watching my technique," he bragged with his roller. "It is outstanding."

NBC's Martin Luther King Day contribution saw anchor Brian Williams sit down with John Lewis, the Civil-Rights-era activist turned Georgia Congressman. He recalled that in 1961, the year Obama was born, he was a Freedom Rider: "Blacks and whites could not board a Greyhound bus together and travel from Virginia through North Carolina, South Carolina--and Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi--without the possibility of being arrested, jailed or beaten."

ABC added a pair of race-related features. Pierre Thomas took A Closer Look at the "severe chronic problems" that cause disproportionate harm to the African-American population. He ticked off an "ugly list"--death by homicide, rates of incarceration, school dropouts, infection with HIV/AIDS and poverty. The question for the new African-American President, suggested Thomas, who happens to be African-American too, was whether he "would or should pay special attention to the black community."

ABC's closer, by David Wright, walked us along the Washington Mall to suggest that "the entire landscape of the inauguration is haunted by slavery--and haunted is the right word: there are no markers here, not so much as a plaque laid by the historical society." Slaves built the US Capitol and the White House: "The men who laid the foundations…had life, but not liberty, and little hope for happiness as they baked the bricks, lugged the granite and raised those massive columns…" Wright reminded us that 12 of the 42 Presidents of the United States have been slave owners.


COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT? The fighting finally stopped in the Gaza Strip, leaving at least 1,200 Palestinians dead. CBS was the sole newscast to find time in its DC-centric coverage to assign a correspondent to walk through the rubble. "Massive destruction," Allen Pizzey called it, as United Nations agencies and human rights groups charged Israel with war crimes. "Whatever reasons are given for this war, no matter who gets the blame for starting it, the people whose lives were destroyed in it are convinced it was a simple case of collective punishment." For its part Israel denounced allegations that its assault on Gaza violated international law. It has put five incidents in which civilians were attacked under investigation.