CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 23, 2009
Was the top story fiscal or financial? President Barack Obama convened a showpiece event at the White House to promise that his two-year deficit spending of $787bn was not permanent policy and that the annual federal deficit could be cut to a mere $533bn by 2013. He called the gathering his Fiscal Responsibility Summit and CBS selected it for its lead. ABC and NBC both kicked off from Wall Street where the fate of Citigroup hangs in the balance. Its latest offer to the federal government is a 40% taxpayer ownership stake as a way to repay $45bn in bailout funds. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sold off to 7114, meaning that it has registered a capital gain of zero since the spring of 1997. The fiscal summit turned out to be the Story of the Day.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 23, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSFederal budget deficit spending increasesWhite House hosts Fiscal Responsibility SummitChip ReidWhite House
video thumbnailABCFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutWall Street traders worry about nationalizationBetsy StarkNew York
video thumbnailNBCReal estate housing market prices continue to fallBursting of bubble triggered financial crisisDavid FaberNew York
video thumbnailCBSBanks operate tax shelters in Cayman IslandsFeds fund entities to help avoid feds' taxesSharyl AttkissonWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCInfluenza seasonSingle vaccine may be effective for many strainsRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailABCAir safety: airport birds threaten jet enginesAvian radar system may replace scarecrowsNeal KarlinskySeattle
video thumbnailNBCAirline travel: ground crews trained in turnaroundsCabin cleaning crews face increased garbageKevin TibblesChicago
video thumbnailCBSNewspaper industry in financial troubleLose ads, readers; switch from print to onlineJeff GreenfieldLos Angeles
video thumbnailABCAcademy Awards ceremonies in HollywoodSlumdog Millionaire's win cheered in India tooKaren RussoMumbai
video thumbnailNBCAcademy Awards ceremonies in HollywoodOscar highlights headed by Slumdog MillionaireChris JansingHollywood
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
THE PROMISE OF FUTURE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY Was the top story fiscal or financial? President Barack Obama convened a showpiece event at the White House to promise that his two-year deficit spending of $787bn was not permanent policy and that the annual federal deficit could be cut to a mere $533bn by 2013. He called the gathering his Fiscal Responsibility Summit and CBS selected it for its lead. ABC and NBC both kicked off from Wall Street where the fate of Citigroup hangs in the balance. Its latest offer to the federal government is a 40% taxpayer ownership stake as a way to repay $45bn in bailout funds. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sold off to 7114, meaning that it has registered a capital gain of zero since the spring of 1997. The fiscal summit turned out to be the Story of the Day.

The President's promise of an improvement in the deficit depends on reversing two of George Bush's policies--restoring a higher tax rate for rich people and scaling back military costs in Iraq--and "relies on estimates that the economy will improve down the road," NBC's Savannah Guthrie pointed out. Obama ended the day by taking questions from his guests. NBC's Guthrie likened it to Question Time in the House of Commons in London as "political friends and foes rose;" ABC's Jake Tapper heard echoes of the University of Chicago as the "former law professor opened the summit to a freewheeling discussion."

Gov Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Republican, was in attendance. Last week CBS' Bill Whitaker publicized Jindal's hardline Republican bona fides by identifying him as one of a trio of GOP governors who were so ideologically opposed to deficit spending as a method of boosting demand in the economy that he might refuse to accept fiscal stimulus funds for his state. Now Whitaker's colleague Chip Reid gave us the specifics. Jindal's quibble is only with $100m out of a total of $4bn. The other $3.9bn he is happy to accept.


SOFTPEDALING THE PRESIDENT Both ABC News and CBS News published their first political opinion polls of the new Presidency. CBS' Chip Reid ran down the list of Barack Obama's economic plans: loans to Detroit's Big Three--majority opposed; bailout for high finance--majority opposed; borrowing for fiscal stimulus--majority supports; foreclosure prevention--majority supports. ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported an overall 68% approval rating for the new President: 90% among Democrats; 67% among independents; 37% from Republicans.

There is no sign that the Obama honeymoon is over on the nightly newscasts, especially at ABC. Since Inauguration Day, ABC's Stephanopoulos has admired behind-the-scenes Oval Office photographs and ABC's Diane Sawyer has made Reggie Love, Obama's gentleman's gentleman, the Person of the Week and ABC's David Wright has profiled First Lady Michelle. Now ABC anchor Charles Gibson files a feature on Obama's daily routine of reading a purple folder containing ten selected letters from citizens. Such soft features give credence to those who generalize that the MainStreamMedia is in the tank for the new President. By the way, NBC's Brian Williams has examined Obama's jacketless dress code in a similarly soft vein.


STRESSED BY THE N-WORD The Treasury Department is about to launch its stress test of 20 major financial institutions, running their balance sheets "through a simulated worse case scenario," as CBS' Anthony Mason put it, to measure which is potentially insolvent. CNBC's Trish Regan was at the New York Stock Exchange for NBC. She quoted from a joint statement designed to "calm investors" from the FDIC, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board "that promised to preserve the viability of systemically important financial institutions."

Fears of the N-word, as ABC's Betsy Stark called it, continued to haunt the stock market. Her anchor Charles Gibson asked her why nationalization is considered such a dirty word, since the federal takeover would only be temporary. Stark offered two answers: that it contradicts Wall Street's philosophy of free market capitalism; and that private investors will be wiped out. "Those investors have been almost wiped out already, haven't they?" "Well, it is not entirely rational."

How haunted is the stock market? CBS' Mason offered these fun facts: a share of General Electric is cheaper than a light bulb, a share of General Motors is cheaper than a can of gasoline, a share of The New York Times is cheaper than its Sunday edition.


FINDING SHELTER IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS Rounding out the day's financial coverage was a pair of features. NBC kicked off its series Meltdown: Making Sense of it All with a potted version of David Faber's CNBC documentary House of Cards, which retraces the inflation and bursting of the real estate bubble starting with Alan Greenspan's slashing cuts to interest rates in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. CBS had Sharyl Attkisson file a Follow the Money report in which she identified eleven recipients of a total of $227bn from the Treasury Department's TARP funds. Those eleven operate tax havens that allow their clients to avoid paying a further $100bn each year to the Treasury Department. Attkisson's most egregious example was Morgan Stanley, which operates 158 separate tax haven subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands.


ONE ‘FLU OVER A biotech breakthrough after experiments on laboratory mice was publicized by NBC's Robert Bazell and ABC's John McKenzie. Scientists have found an immune system protein that neutralizes many separate strains of the influenza virus. NBC's Bazell picked up on the implication that an antibody may now be mass-produced as a precaution for a pandemic. ABC's McKenzie had a second takeaway, the prospect of a universal vaccine that could be injected just once, without annual reformulation.


MR CLEAN AND AVIAN RADAR By coincidence, airline travel was featured on all three newscasts. NBC's Kevin Tibbles offered free publicity to United Airlines' efforts to clean its jets properly: "Since airlines cut down on food service, passengers are bringing their own and more food on board means more garbage." Hats off to the flacks at UAL's PR department, as they trotted out a bald General Manager of Cabin Appearance to symbolize their Mr Clean campaign.

CBS and ABC simultaneously decided to follow-up on the hazard that flocks of birds around airports pose to jet engines. CBS' Richard Schlesinger went the bureaucratic route, showing us the avian radar that the Pentagon has developed and that the National Transportation Safety Board has urged the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt, without success, since 1999. ABC's Neal Karlinsky tried human interest, introducing us to Steve Osmek inventor of "a strange new radar for airports that no one paid much attention to" until birds knocked out the engines of USAirways Flight 1549 at LaGuardia Airport last month.


THE PROBLEM IS THE PAPERS NOT THE NEWS The Daily News and the Inquirer in Philadelphia joined the Tribune in Chicago and the Times in Los Angeles on the list of bankrupt newspapers. "When it comes to the newspaper business, if it were not for bad news there would be no news at all," declared CBS' Jeff Greenfield before reassuring us that the classified advertising we used to get in print we can now get on craigslist and that "consumers can now get their news on cellphones or PDAs and from an endless stream of free online Websites." Then the bad news for newspapers: "There is not nearly enough advertising online to keep most newspapers alive."


FROM MUMBAI VIA BURBANK TO DISNEYLAND The Academy Awards ceremonies on Sunday night qualified for coverage by a reporter at both ABC and NBC. NBC's Chris Jansing took the industry approach, covering the highlights from Hollywood and reporting how "unbelievable" the story of the Slumdog Millionaire is--not its plot but the story of its production. Its initial screening to movie executives in Burbank "got an icy reception, bounced from one studio to another, initially opened in just ten theaters." Now it has eight Oscars and $100m in box office receipts. On ABC, digital reporter Karen Russo took the sociological approach, covering how the shantytown dwellers where the movie was set watched the Oscars in Mumbai. It child actors "are not instant millionaires. They still live in this slum but they do have a new school paid for by the film's producers." While the Mumbaikers are in California, Russo decided to throw in a tidbit of gratuitous corporate cross-promotion. The kids were given a "fairy tale" trip to Russo's bosses' playground--Disneyland.