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     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 10, 2009
This was Timothy Geithner's first day in the spotlight. All three newscasts led with the Treasury Secretary's speech to unveil the Obama Administration's plan for the second phase of the bailout of high finance, which was dubbed TARP by Geithner's predecessor Henry Paulson. CBS and ABC led with their New York based business correspondents covering Geithner's speech, the Story of the Day. NBC sent anchor Brian Williams to Washington DC to start his newscast with a Geithner interview. Coincidentally ABC's Charles Gibson also anchored from Washington but he was not in the nation's capital on TARP-related business.    
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video thumbnailABCFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutTreasury Secy Geithner outlines second TARP planBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailNBCFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutTreasury Secy Geithner outlines second TARP planBrian WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutSecond TARP will cover credit card securitiesJosh Landis & Mitch ButlerNo Dateline
video thumbnailNBCEconomy is officially in recessionPresident Obama focus on hard times in Ft MyersSavannah GuthrieFlorida
video thumbnailABCObama Presidency gets under wayQuestioned on alarmist tone, lack of honeymoonTerry MoranFlorida
video thumbnailCBSIsrael politics: right wing parties win electionPrime Minister will be Livni or NetanyahuRichard RothTel Aviv
video thumbnailCBSAirline industry in financial troubleLabor cost savings undercut quality of pilotsKatie CouricNo Dateline
video thumbnailABCSalmonella outbreak investigatedFormer workers describe filthy Ga peanut factoryLisa StarkGeorgia
video thumbnailCBSBird migration patterns monitoredAudubon Society tracks global warming changesJohn BlackstoneCalifornia
video thumbnailABCWestminster Kennel Club dog show held in NYCHandlers' behavior often looks ridiculousSharyn AlfonsiNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
GEITHNER GETS LOW GRADES FROM WALL STREET This was Timothy Geithner's first day in the spotlight. All three newscasts led with the Treasury Secretary's speech to unveil the Obama Administration's plan for the second phase of the bailout of high finance, which was dubbed TARP by Geithner's predecessor Henry Paulson. CBS and ABC led with their New York based business correspondents covering Geithner's speech, the Story of the Day. NBC sent anchor Brian Williams to Washington DC to start his newscast with a Geithner interview. Coincidentally ABC's Charles Gibson also anchored from Washington but he was not in the nation's capital on TARP-related business.

Geithner earned poor grades for his plan from Wall Street. "In this urgent climate the on-air analysts at CNBC were brutal in assessing the Treasury Secretary's speech," opined NBC's Williams, noting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average sold off by 381 points to 7888 in a single day. ABC's Betsy Stark heard complaints among stock traders that it was "a vague outline when what investors wanted were concrete details" and CBS' Anthony Mason noted that Wall Street critics "saw more of a concept than a plan." On NBC, CNBC economist Steve Liesman called it a failure of the expectations game: Geithner had led the financial markets to anticipate "a big bang bold move…They expected much more of him."

On NBC, anchor Williams spent more time on his interview with Geithner than on his TARP's elements. How bad is the problem? "Parts of our system are still very badly damaged." How much will the bailout end up costing? "Governments tend to underestimate the ultimate costs and damage." Should bank executives not be held accountable? "The quality of judgments you have seen across the financial system are just deeply troubling." Does the executive pay system need to change? "We need to try to transform the overall system of incentives around the financial system because those incentives were part of what caused this crisis."

ABC's Stark and CBS' Mason both focused on the elements of the Geithner plan, its lack of details notwithstanding. For the banks, he used a medical metaphor, proposing a stress test of their soundness. For so-called toxic assets, he proposed an investment fund to act as a so-called Bad Bank, funded by both federal and investor capital. For the consumer economy, he proposed that the Federal Reserve Board extend credits for automobile sales, student loans and small businesses.

An innovative element of the bailout is a plan to loosen banks' credit card lending by buying bundles of asset-backed securities based on that debt. CBS aired an animated Fast Draw explainer by Mitch Butler and Josh Landis showing how that might persuade consumers to start shopping again. CBS' Mason teased the Treasury Department for its overall lack of details by pointing to its Website where Geithner's scheme is spelled out: the home page of financialstability.gov has the following message: "Future home of financialstability.gov."


OBAMA TRIES TO THREAD NEEDLE Monday in Elkhart Ind, Tuesday in Fort Myers Fla: "This is foreclosure country," announced NBC's Savannah Guthrie as she accompanied Barack Obama on his second out-of-town trip in two days. The President is focusing on "areas where the economic pain is extreme," observed CBS' Chip Reid, citing a foreclosure rate in Fort Myers of one in every eight homes, with 10% unemployment. ABC skipped coverage by its White House correspondent, filing clips from a q-&-a by the network's former man on that beat, Terry Moran, now anchor for Nightline. Moran asked Obama whether his public warnings about economic catastrophe were too dire. "I am constantly trying to thread the needle between sounding alarmist but also letting the American people know the circumstances that we are in." Next he was asked whether his political tone was too nice, especially to Republicans: "People should not underestimate the value of civility and trying to get people to work together."

The most newsworthy soundbite from Obama's first Presidential primetime press conference concerned diplomacy with Iran. ABC's Jim Sciutto in Teheran covered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's response but that videostream is not available online.


NETANYAHU’S PLATFORM TREATED AS BLANK SLATE Only CBS assigned a reporter to cover the elections to Israel's Likud. London-based Richard Roth was in Tel Aviv where both Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to be in the best position to organize a coalition government. "Political wrangling now will decide who really won." Roth described Livni as "a lawyer and former Mossad agent" who supported the recent military incursion into the Gaza Strip yet endorses a peace treaty with the Palestinians. Netanyahu's party attracted fewer votes but has "a bigger bloc of potential right-wing allies." Roth left Netanyahu's politics undescribed.


SULLY USED TO BE LEONARDO When CBS' anchor files her own feature package she likes to attach a the label Katie Couric Reports. She granted a four-minute platform to Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of USAirways 1549, for his arguments against airline management. "There was a time when the job of an airline pilot was a coveted one," Couric reminisced, illustrating her history with a fictional clip of Leonardo diCaprio playing a conman impersonating a pilot in the movie Catch Me If You Can.

Couric told tales of pay cuts and layoffs and longer working hours. The pilots' union at USAirways agreed to $6.8bn in givebacks five years ago to prevent it from going out of business. Sullenberger argued that the upshot of all these cuts would be a lower level of experience in an emergency such as the one he survived. Couric countered that "despite the harsh economic realities for the first time in jet aviation history US commercial carriers have gone two consecutive years without a crash fatality." The airlines' trade association offered no comment in response to their hero pilot's critique.


WHAT’S THAT CRUNCH IN THE PEANUT BUTTER? The federal investigation into the salmonella-tainted food produced by the Peanut Corporation of America was updated by ABC and NBC reporters. NBC's Tom Costello filed from Washington, where the FBI ordered a search of the paperwork at the PCA factory and the USDA and FDA prepared plans to coordinate food safety inspections. Lisa Stark for ABC's A Closer Look covered the investigation of the PCA plant in Georgia. "Cockroaches everywhere," was the description from a former worker who was hired to clean the plant but asked to remain unidentified.


SNOWBIRDS SHIFT NORTHWARDS The twitchers at the Audubon Society have compiled data from four decades of bird sightings to analyze changes in migration patterns. In those 40 years global warming has raised the average January temperature across the United States by 4F, CBS' John Blackstone told us. The birds, apparently, have noticed too. The Audubon researchers studied 300-or-so species: half of them have changed their migratory patterns to seek stable temperatures; their median northward shift is 35 miles.


GOING TO THE DOGS Neither CBS nor ABC could resist the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for its closing feature--NBC had Trish Regan promote her pooch documentary on CNBC last week. CBS' Kelly Wallace introduced us to a sibling rivalry of competing junior handlers who are sisters. ABC's diminutive Sharyn Alfonsi went back to a hotel room with one handler whose giant hound is supposed to sleep in the lap of luxury but ended up…