CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 02, 2009
On a light news day, only the continuing debate on Capitol Hill over the ailing economy was newsworthy enough to warrant coverage by a reporter on all three newscasts. So, by default, the President's proposed fiscal stimulus legislation was Story of the Day as Barack Obama held talks with Congressional Democrats and a bipartisan panel of governors as he tried to surmount Republican opposition in the Senate. ABC led with the stimulus. NBC chose continuing hard times in the retail sector. CBS, with substitute anchor Maggie Rodriguez, kicked off with the weather. The entire Kentucky National Guard has been called out to join the commonwealth's clean-up from last week's icestorm.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 02, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSEconomy is officially in recessionPresident Obama urges Senate action on stimulusChip ReidWhite House
video thumbnailABCEconomy is officially in recessionState governors lobby for stimulus bill passageJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailNBCRetail sales slowdown: chains face bankruptcyCutbacks, layoffs as consumers slash spendingMargaret BrennanCNBC
video thumbnailABCHealth Secretary Tom Daschle nominationAssailed for unpaid taxes, healthcare incomeJonathan KarlCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCNational Security Agency eavesdrops on citizensShould DoJ prosecute warrantless wiretaps?Lisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSWinter weatherKy Natl Guard helps after icestorm power outagesHari SreenivasanKentucky
video thumbnailABCSnowfall paralyzes unprepared LondonNo snow plows for once-in-two-decade eventMiguel MarquezLondon
video thumbnailNBCInternet maps created from satellite photographyMarine ecosystems now searchable by Google EarthAnne ThompsonCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSExxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska aftermathLawsuit damages slow to be paid, fishery suffersByron PittsNew York
video thumbnailCBSOlympic swimmer Michael Phelps becomes celebrityMarijuana partygoing jeopardizes endorsementsKelly CobiellaTampa
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
IS DISPUTE OVER STIMULUS BILL MERELY MODEST? On a light news day, only the continuing debate on Capitol Hill over the ailing economy was newsworthy enough to warrant coverage by a reporter on all three newscasts. So, by default, the President's proposed fiscal stimulus legislation was Story of the Day as Barack Obama held talks with Congressional Democrats and a bipartisan panel of governors as he tried to surmount Republican opposition in the Senate. ABC led with the stimulus. NBC chose continuing hard times in the retail sector. CBS, with substitute anchor Maggie Rodriguez, kicked off with the weather. The entire Kentucky National Guard has been called out to join the commonwealth's clean-up from last week's icestorm.

Unidentified White House aides told NBC's Chuck Todd why they believe the stimulus legislation is running into obstacles: "Republicans have done a better job at selling their position that the Obama plan is more about spending for government programs than creating jobs." Spending for government programs is exactly what governors and mayors and county officials are in search of, ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out. He smelled "fiscal desperation" from the 46 states and "hundreds of cities" facing budget shortfalls. In Republican-governed California "the safety net is falling out for the unemployed, the disabled and those who provide childcare."

Both ABC's Tapper and CBS' Chip Reid quoted President Obama's assertion that the differences between his plan and its Republican critics in the Senate are "modest." "Far from modest," was how CBS' Reid quoted their response. "Considerable," was the way ABC's Tapper put it. ABC's George Stephanopoulos predicted that a combination of tax credits for housing, increased expenditure on infrastructure and the removal of "the more unpopular spending" would attract the support of "maybe ten Republican senators."


WHY ARE LAYOFFS LIKE DISEASES AND PLANE CRASHES? The crisis in retailing was covered by CNBC's Margaret Brennan for NBC's lead item. "Promotions and discounts are just not convincing consumers to spend right now," she told us. Instead they are saving money avidly, at the highest rate since last spring. CBS' Chip Reid added that banks are extending them fewer loans: 60% report to the Federal Reserve that they have raised their required credit rating. The upshot, CNBC's Brennan told us, is that retailers have been shedding jobs at the weekly rate of 10,000 workers since the New Year. The latest layoffs are at the Macy's chain of department stores, which is cutting back in Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco.

ABC's A Closer Look from David Muir started as a profile of a family coping with unemployment and an 80% haircut in its household income. It then veered into an examination of how people survive crises--not just economic shocks--but accidents and health scares and plane crashes as well. ABC's Muir did not tell us but the probable explanation for this incongruous shoehorning of the book The Survivors Club into his report was that its author, Ben Sherwood, was executive producer of Good Morning America during part of anchor Charles Gibson's tenure there. Presumably Charlie was extending to Ben the gift of free publicity.


DASCHLE IS NO PRAIRIE POPULIST Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader, now Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health, is forcing the President "to expend political capital he would rather use to sell his economic plan," mused NBC's White House correspondent Chuck Todd. Daschle not only had to pay back taxes on his use of a corporate car and a personal driver for three years, he is also dogged by a "perception problem" because when he was still in Congress he used to boast in political ads that he was unspoiled by power, driving his own clunker of a car to work on the Hill each day. ABC's George Stephanopoulos knowingly doubted that the chauffered limousine would ultimately derail Daschle's nomination: "A lot of members of Congress and senators have drivers or their staff drive them. They do not want to really open this up as an issue."

"It is not just taxes," ABC's Jonathan Karl piled on. "Concerns are also being raised about the more than $200,000 in speaking fees he earned from the healthcare industry"--Karl scrolled the names and amounts from insurance firms and trade associations and lobbyists--"an industry he will be responsible for reforming as HHS Secretary."


PBS AIRS SPYING EARS NBC's Lisa Myers offered a promotional preview for The Spy Factory, a documentary from PBS' Nova series. It examines the warrantless wiretapping of US citizens performed illegally by the National Security Agency until 2007, when Congress loosened the requirement to obtain court permission. Nova obtained an interview with spy Adrienne Kinne, an Arab linguist who worked at the NSA for two years. She described eavesdropping on the telephone calls by American journalists and aid workers and military personnel as being like "reading someone else's diary."


TURKEY TRAY IS FLEXIBLE FLYER The weather provided a pair of contrasting tales: hardship in Appalachia and humor in England. The hardship tales were told by CBS' Hari Sreenivasan and NBC's Mike Taibbi as more than a quarter of a million Kentucky homes are still without electricity following last week's icestorm. NBC's Taibbi heard the ubiquitous "sounds of chainsaws" as utility crews worked to restring powerlines. In London, the streets were stalled by snow. ABC's Miguel Marquez and NBC's Stephanie Gosk noted the lack of municipal snowplows: "Just six inches brought one of Europe's mightiest cities to its knees," Gosk exclaimed. Mayor Boris Johnson told her that being unprepared was the fiscally prudent thing: it would not be "a good investment of taxpayers' money to have snowplows, you know, for an incident of a kind that only occurs once every 20 years." Londoners themselves were so ill-equipped for snow that some resorted to using turkey roasting trays as toboggans.


WATERY ORB Google Earth landed free publicity for its expansion to cover the world's oceans from both NBC and CBS. CBS treated it as a technology story, with Daniel Sieberg presenting a show-and-tell of the Website's features: "There is even a fish GPS. You can follow creatures that have been tagged." NBC, which tends to cover the environment more heavily than the other newscasts, assigned Anne Thompson, its environmental correspondent to the story. Her focus was less on the ocean's topography and more on the work of the marine ecologists that the site links to. Thompson gave pride of place to the underwater nature photography of Kip Evans.


THE LAW’S DELAY The day's environmental coverage on CBS was filed by Byron Pitts, who traced the 20 years since ExxonMobil's official spokesman pledged to make the fishermen of Valdez Alaska "whole" following its supertanker's devastating oil spill. The lawsuit against the oil conglomerate for punitive damages is still unresolved, Pitts reported: "At least 6,000 of the original plaintiffs have died and 8,000 have liens on their settlements." The United States Supreme Court has ruled that $507m in damages are due but an appeals court has still to decide whether ExxonMobil has to pay interest on that amount because of the delay. Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had this to say on behalf of her constituents: "I think that has been Exxon's strategy every step of the way, to wear everybody down. They have succeeded in fatiguing those who were entitled to this compensation."


THIS IS YOUR SPORTS ON DRUGS The obvious sports story to round out the nightly newscast was a recap of the climax to the NFL's Super Bowl XLIII. A beautiful last-minute catch by Santonio Holmes won the trophy for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Most Valuable Player award for Holmes himself. Sure enough ABC's John Berman filed the report--complete with Holmes' admission that he spent a year as a Florida teenager dealing drugs--but the usual copyright restrictions associated with sports journalism mean that Berman's story is not available online.

So the day's other drugs-and-sports acts as back-up. CBS' Kelly Cobiella showed us the picture in The News of the World, the London tabloid newspaper, that has Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps apparently inhaling marijuana at a party last fall. "He has been partying constantly since last spring," USA swimming coach Jim Kelly told Cobiella. The 23-year-old superstar called his own toking "youthful" and "inappropriate" on his Facebook page. Both Speedo swimsuits and Omega watches, Phelps' two main sponsors, are standing by their fish "so far."