CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 19, 2009
The fallout from President Barack Obama's speech in Phoenix Wednesday on preventing home foreclosures was Story of the Day. With baldfaced cross-promotion, NBC led with the backlash against the bailout, which had been voiced on cable television from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange by trader Rick Santelli, who happens to work for CNBC, NBC's sibling channel. "The government is promoting bad behavior," Santelli exclaimed to the frenzied applause of his fellow traders. The other two newscasts chose different financial stories for their leads: CBS selected the SEC's probe into Allen Stanford, the global financier; ABC, with substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos, kicked off with the intensifying bear market on Wall Street.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 19, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseCNBC criticism of Obama plan inspires listenersTrish ReganNew York
video thumbnailCBSReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increasePhila court sponsors mediation to avoid evictionMichelle MillerPhiladelphia
video thumbnailCBSReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseLee County Fla court runs speedy Rocket DocketKelly CobiellaFlorida
video thumbnailABCNYSE-NASDAQ closing pricesDJIA falls to 7465, new low for bear marketDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailNBCState government budgets face fiscal crisisCalifornia Senate resolves three-month gridlockGeorge LewisLos Angeles
video thumbnailABCFinancier Allen Stanford investigated for fraudDelivered SEC papers by FBI but not arrestedBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailABCCanada-US diplomacy: Harper-Obama talks in OttawaPotential frictions over NAFTA smoothed overJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailNBCPacific Rim diplomacy: Secretary Rodham Clinton tripVisits South Korea, warns about North KoreaAndrea MitchellSeoul
video thumbnailNBCSudan civil war: ethnic cleansing in DarfurTeenagers survive in refugee camps in ChadAnn CurryChad
video thumbnailCBSIndia economy: Mumbai is global business centerDabbawala system praised for lunch deliverySeth DoaneMumbai
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
CNBC WARNS OBAMA OF MORAL MORTGAGE HAZARD The fallout from President Barack Obama's speech in Phoenix Wednesday on preventing home foreclosures was Story of the Day. With baldfaced cross-promotion, NBC led with the backlash against the bailout, which had been voiced on cable television from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange by trader Rick Santelli, who happens to work for CNBC, NBC's sibling channel. "The government is promoting bad behavior," Santelli exclaimed to the frenzied applause of his fellow traders. The other two newscasts chose different financial stories for their leads: CBS selected the SEC's probe into Allen Stanford, the global financier; ABC, with substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos, kicked off with the intensifying bear market on Wall Street.

On NBC, Trish Regan, who is also from CNBC, promoted her cable colleague. She called his complaint "the populist shot heard round the world…Santelli's outrage reverberated across the country." Regan noted that fully 92% of mortgage holders are making their payments in timely fashion; though she did conclude with the warning that "a lot of these are adjustable rate mortgages. They will be resetting and the concern is people might not be able to pay in the future." John Berman addressed the economists' pitfall of moral hazard for ABC's A Closer Look. Berman singled out the provision in Obama's plan "that would pay homeowners who get government assistance an additional $1,000 a year if they keep current on their payments." Defenders of the scheme argue that preventing individual foreclosures supports house prices in an entire neighborhood: "That solution may not be 100% fair to everyone but, then again, who said recessions are always fair?"

CBS filed a contrasting pair of features on how foreclosure courts can handle cases. Michelle Miller showed us the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia where Judge Annette Rizzo encourages foreclosing borrowers and defaulting lenders to compromise. "You will not find her on the bench. She roams the room often nudging progress along." Of 3,600 potential evictions, 700 deals have been struck. Kelly Cobiella was in Lee County Fla where the courts take a Santelliesque approach. Dubbed the Rocket Docket, "a judge whips through hundreds of cases in a single morning." A typical eviction is ordered in just 18 seconds, with the homeowner given 60 days to pack up and leave. "Of the 450 cases heard this morning," Cobiella calculated, "only 47 homeowners showed."


COURIC FAILS TO PASS THE STRESS TEST The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 7465, "its lowest point since this crisis began," as ABC's David Muir put it, falling almost 10% since Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the Treasury Department's plan for the second part of the TARP bailout. "Many investors are worried about the so-called banking stress tests," Muir explained. "Once the government opens those books we could be in for a rude awakening." Shares of Bank of America have fallen from $42 to $4 in the past year; those of Citigroup from $25 to $2.50, "its lowest value now in history."

CBS anchor Katie Couric took the plunge and tried a What It Means explainer about the potential for nationalization of "the biggest banks in the most trouble." Her effort, to coin a Treasury phrase, just did not pass the stress test.

Couric used a key soundbite from Chairman Benjamin Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Board about the "very strong commitment" of the Obama Administration to return banks "to private hands as quickly as possible." There is no doubt that this is a reference to Swedish-style nationalization, a method whereby banks are allowed to fail; their assets fall into government hands; their loss-making paper stays on the government's books; their profit-making operations are resold to private capital. Instead, Couric characterized any nationalization as involving a "government bureaucracy" that "may not offer the best customer service."

Couric mentioned FDR's New Deal and Japanese zombie banks and nationalized banks in Britain but did not even refer to the Swedish model. And she contradicted her own assertion that nationalization would apply only to the biggest banks when she claimed that the Treasury Department had decided not to nationalize Citigroup and Bank of America but "prop them up with government funds until the economy recovery." Time will tell.

UPDATE: Brent Baker, our conservative news monitoring colleague at Newsbusters.org agrees with Couric that any nationalization would not follow the Swedish model but would involve bureaucrats offering customer service. It is a rare day when Baker publicizes his agreement with Couric--even though his endorsement was a sarcastic one. He called Couric's customer service line an "understatement."


ABEL IS ABLE TO MAKE A DEAL Abel Maldonado was the State Senator in California who finally played Let's Make a Deal. The Republican "had been holding out against new taxes but wanted changes in election laws," explained NBC's George Lewis, as Maldonado cast his vote with his party's Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the state legislature, thus "ending a bitter partisan deadlock that had lasted almost three months." Lewis listed the down side: $12bn in extra taxes and almost $9bn in cuts to education.


STANFORD REMAINS IN PLAIN SIGHT CBS and ABC both treated the Allen Stanford case as newsworthy enough for assignment to a correspondent. "Stanford's days as a jet-setting billionaire traveling the world are over," declared ABC's Brian Ross as the financier was served civil papers from the Securities & Exchange Commission in its $8bn fraud probe and he surrendered his passport to the Justice Department. CBS' Bob Orr reported that Stanford was "extremely cooperative" with FBI agents. "He accepted the papers and then simply drove away. He was not arrested."

ABC's Ross insinuated that remaining free might not be so salutary: "An even more serious problem for Stanford may be an FBI investigation into whether he was involved in handling money for Mexican drug cartels--men who do not like to be cheated."


49TH PARALLEL After spending the first three days of the week on the economy, President Barack Obama turned to diplomacy. He flew to Ottawa for talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper where he seemed "a little bit unprepared for the rousing reception," according to NBC's Chuck Todd. "The enthusiasm was overwhelming among ordinary Canadians."

All three White House correspondents reminded us that then-candidate Obama had dissed the NAFTA treaty. It was "a popular position in battleground states with high unemployment but it caused an uproar in Canada," noted CBS' Chip Reid. The Prime Minister "in very diplomatic terms seemed to lecture the President on protectionist tendencies," observed NBC's Todd. In response, ABC's Jake Tapper found, "gone was the rhetoric of the Ohio primary."

A "fun fact to note," NBC's Todd concluded, was that the President "admitted in an interview with a Canadian TV network that he has never seen a hockey game."


TEENAGE JAKARTANS AND TWENTYSOMETHINGS IN PYONGYANG On the Asian side of the Pacific Ocean, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued her first diplomatic trip. ABC's Martha Raddatz (embargoed link) focused on the "full-fledged charm offensive" component in Jakarta as the Secretary appeared on Awesome, a youth show on Indonesian music TV. "You see all these people?" the tone-deaf Madame Secretary joked when she was asked for a tune. "If I start to sing, they will leave." From Seoul, NBC's Andrea Mitchell chose the hard news angle. Rodham Clinton "abandoned the usual diplomatic niceties in unusually blunt talk," worried about a crisis in North Korea, where the 67-year-old dictator Kim Jong Il may have suffered a stroke. "Last week Kim replaced his Defense Minister," Mitchell reported, "and now word that Kim's youngest son, in his mid twenties, would likely succeed his father."


AZIZA & KHAMUS Today newscaster Ann Curry followed up on her Darfur reporting from the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2007 with a return visit to the refugee camps along the Chad-Sudan border for NBC's In Depth. Back then she had profiled a teenage girl who was raped by a Sudanese cavalryman while gathering firewood and a teenage boy who was orphaned when his village was bombed by a Sudanese war plane. She found them alive in their camp: Aziza married and pregnant, Khamus caring for his blind grandmother--"two refugees of Darfur's tragedy who refuse to be broken. In spite of everything they still hope someday they can go home."


CHASING DABBAWALAS The combination of last fall's hostage siege in its luxury hotels and the nomination of Slumdog Millionaire for the Academy Awards has started to turn the Mumbai dateline into a household word on the nightly newscasts. NBC's Ian Williams picked up on the Bollywood movie theme--now the city is Mumbai not Bombay, shouldn't Bollywood be Mullywood?--by profiling the animators at Rhythm & Hues, already Oscarworthy for their special effects in The Golden Compass.

CBS' Seth Doane certainly nailed the kinetic energy of the city as he took off from Slumdog's chai-wala to the full-fledged dabba-walas: the 5,000 deliverymen who serve 200,000 home-cooked lunches to the business district every day. "They do not slow down for curious reporters," Doane laughed. "I have managed to get on a car with dabbawalas…though I am on the wrong car of dabbawalas."