CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 20, 2009
The Story of the Day was the nationalization that did not happen. All through the morning, traders on Wall Street bet that the federal government would take over two of the country's hugest banks. If that were to happen, their shares would be wiped out, value zero. Citigroup and Bank of America were heading in that direction, as low as $1.61 and $2.35 respectively. The afternoon started with this declaration from the White House press secretary: "A privately-held banking system is the correct way to go." It was enough to halt the sell-off. The two banks ended the day at $1.95 and $3.79. All three newscasts led with the banks' near-death experience. ABC again had a substitute anchor, this time George Stephanopoulos of This Week.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 20, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutCitigroup, BofAmerica may face federal takeoverTrish ReganNew York
video thumbnailABCReal estate home mortgage foreclosures increaseWhite House responds to CNBC criticism of planJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailCBSChina-US trade relationsYuan currency manipulation may cause imbalanceWyatt AndrewsBeijing
video thumbnailABCRussia nationalist violence against ethnic minoritiesSkinhead gangs attack central Asian migrantsClarissa WardMoscow
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingKabul is insecure, braces for Taliban attacksRichard EngelAfghanistan
video thumbnailCBSPakistan fighting along North West FrontierCIA launches Predator drones from Pakistani baseDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPosthumous medals for pair of USMC Ramadi heroesMark StrassmannVirginia
video thumbnailABCGirl Scout cookies are fundraising traditionThin mints are not recessionproof, sales slumpSharyn AlfonsiNew York
video thumbnailABCHollywood movies box office trendsAttendance traditionally unharmed by recessionRobin RobertsHollywood
video thumbnailNBCSudan civil war: ethnic cleansing in DarfurGeorge Clooney works to publicize refugee campsAnn CurryChad
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
HOW A BANK GOES BANKRUPT AT $0/SHARE The Story of the Day was the nationalization that did not happen. All through the morning, traders on Wall Street bet that the federal government would take over two of the country's hugest banks. If that were to happen, their shares would be wiped out, value zero. Citigroup and Bank of America were heading in that direction, as low as $1.61 and $2.35 respectively. The afternoon started with this declaration from the White House press secretary: "A privately-held banking system is the correct way to go." It was enough to halt the sell-off. The two banks ended the day at $1.95 and $3.79. All three newscasts led with the banks' near-death experience. ABC again had a substitute anchor, this time George Stephanopoulos of This Week.

It may have been only a stay of execution, CBS' Anthony Mason reported. The Treasury Department' stress test "will begin imminently, aimed at exposing the extent of bad loans on their books." CNBC's economist Steve Liesman calmly reminded NBC anchor Brian Williams that bank nationalization happens "almost every weekend"--just not to banks as big as Citi or BofA. When the FDIC takes over an insolvent bank, "they sell the deposits; they get rid of the assets; sometimes they hold on to some assets. It is a normal process. It is basically how a bank goes bankrupt."

ABC's David Muir picked up on press secretary Robert Gibbs' preference for privately-held banks. Was he willing to go further and say that President Barack Obama would never nationalize banks? "He would not say that. Economists say that is because the White House must hold open the option of taking some banks over, cleaning their books, infusing them with capital and getting them lending again."

On NBC, Trish Regan of CNBC reassured those of us who do not happen to own shares in these perhaps doomed companies: "As worried as shareholders in these banks may be, people that have accounts in them--whether that be a savings account, a checking account, a money market, a CD--they really do not have to be worried." The FDIC insures accounts up to $250,000.


TEASING THE CABLE RANTER All three newscasts followed their banks lead with a second financial story featuring press secretary Robert Gibbs. "It was a feisty day for the White House," reflected ABC's Jake Tapper. Gibbs decided to take on CNBC's bond trading insider Rick Santelli, source of the famous soundbite: "How many people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage?" As CBS' Chip Reid quoted Gibbs: "I feel assured that Mr Santelli does not know what he is talking about," before he invited the cable guy to the White House to read its Home Affordability Plan over a cup of coffee--"decaf." ABC's Tapper did address the underlying complaint that President Barack Obama's home foreclosure prevention would include aid to some homeowners who had behaved irresponsibly. "Even members of his administration concede the answer is Yes."

NBC's Chuck Todd filed more of a portmanteau package, rounding out his coverage of Gibbs and foreclosures with other economic tidbits. The President warned a meeting of mayors to lay off porkbarrel spending…a Fiscal Responsibility Summit is planned for Monday to discuss Social Security et al…then a speech to a Joint Session of Congress...Thursday his first budget will be published. The newly arrived Todd is still learning how to be a nightly news correspondent. He should remember that 120 seconds for a news package is too precious to be frittered away on calendar items and sideshows. Decide what the angle of the day is and report that thoroughly. Leave the tidbits for your First Read blog.


TIMES HAVE CHANGED IN CHINA AND CANADA Wednesday, all three White House correspondents needled President Barack Obama when he visited Canada, pointing out that his criticisms of NAFTA as a candidate have evaporated in the face of actual diplomacy with his northern partner. Now CBS' Wyatt Andrews does the same job on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she engages in actual diplomacy with the People's Republic of China. Andrews played clips from the campaign trail of candidates Obama and Rodham Clinton both complaining about China's unfair trade practice of manipulating the price of its yuan currency in order to boost its export sector. Andrews asked Rodham Clinton in Beijing whether she was still pursuing her currency complaints: "That was a different time."


SLAVIC SKINHEADS Moscow is an undercovered dateline. Clarissa Ward, ABC's correspondent in Russia, filed only four reports from there on World News during the whole of 2008. Ward's rare report Friday featured the Slavic Union, a 5,000-strong ultra-nationalist racist paramilitary. She hung out in a snowbound forest outside the city while they trained with guns and knives. She showed us online videostreams of skinhead street violence against central Asian minorities and visited a suburb whose mosque was being torched. Many in Moscow predict "migrant workers will become even more of a lightning rod for resentment from Russians who believe that their jobs are being taken by foreigners."

UPDATE: The biggest Russia-related story of 2008 was the fighting over South Ossetia. Ward covered that not from Moscow but from a Georgia dateline.


FIGHTING ALONG THE NORTH WEST FRONTIER A day of unusually heavy foreign coverage also visited Afghanistan and Pakistan. CBS' Pentagon correspondent David Martin filed the Pakistan story, revealing that the CIA uses Pakistan's Shamsi Air Base to launch Predator drone attacks on targets in the North West Frontier region. "Although Pakistan publicly condemns the strikes, it not only provides a base for the drones but also intelligence about their targets." Mullah Omar, the fugitive Afghan Taliban leader, can relax. He has been removed from the CIA's target list because of "secret ties to Pakistani intelligence." NBC's Richard Engel filed from Kabul where the mood is more nervous than it has been since 2002 when the Omar's regime was ousted: "The Taliban is expected to launch an offensive this spring. Across Kabul there is little confidence that more American troops will be able to keep the Taliban out of this city."


REMEMBER IRAQ CBS' Mark Strassmann reminded us of the time when Iraq was still a staple of the nightly newscasts. He replayed videotape of fighting in Ramadi last April at the entrance to a Marine Corps barracks. A truckbomb loaded with 2,000 lbs of explosives tried to wipe out a platoon of 50. "The tape showed an Iraqi policeman had time to run. He lived. They died," narrated Strassmann, referring to a pair of sentries who halted the truck in its tracks, setting off the bomb. Jordan Haerter of Virginia and Jonathan Yale of Long Island were both awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.


GTO, LE MANS, BONNEVILLE, FIREBIRD Check out NBC's tribute to the Pontiac, the General Motors muscle brand, famous for its wide track, split grilles and stack headlines. NBC asked The New York Times' James Cobb to file an obituary for the discontinued babyboomer favorite in an In Their Own Words feature. Cobb called Pontiac "sporty, powerful, aggressive and very stylish" in its prime. By the end "you essentially saw the same cars you would see at the Chevy dealership."


YOU KNOW IT IS A RECESSION WHEN… When Girl Scout cookie sales slump, according to ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi…when veterinary technician is the cool new job, according to Jim Axelrod in CBS' Bright Spots series…when movie theaters are full, according to Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. It is no surprise that ABC should be in Hollywood touting moviegoing this weekend. Roberts was not only offering free publicity for her bosses' business at Disney, she was also cross-promoting her own network's coverage of the Academy Awards ceremonies in primetime on Sunday.


CELEBRITY CROSS-PROMOTION Today newscaster Ann Curry exploited celebrity to win airtime on NBC for her trip to Chad with The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The third member of their trip was United Nations' Messenger of Peace and movie star George Clooney. Curry's report interwove reportage on camp conditions for Darfur refugees with up-close-and-personal access to Clooney's starpower. Mixing the despair of ethnic cleansing with inside-Hollywood jokes about Pitt & Jolie and teasing Kristof about his showering habits produced an entirely disconcerting tone. Curry's gamble--leveraging frivolity with a famous name to secure attention to a grievous calamity--failed to pay off.