CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM OCTOBER 28, 2009
Day Two of NBC's feature focus on Afghanistan coincided with another day of headline news from there. Anchor Brian Williams was at Bagram Air Force Base but all three newscasts kicked off from Kabul. A guesthouse for United Nations monitors preparing to supervise next month's presidential election runoff was attacked by four gunmen disguised in police uniforms. The dawn assault was the Story of the Day. It led to a two-hour gunfight and firebombing. All four gunmen, five UN staffers, three security guards and an American contractor were killed. It was a busy day of international news with coverage from Pakistan and Ethiopia as well as Afghanistan. NBC split its anchoring chores, with Williams overseas and David Gregory taking care of the domestic beat in Washington DC.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR OCTOBER 28, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan politics: presidential election voteUnited Nations runoff monitors killed in KabulJim SciuttoAfghanistan
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingFort Lewis mourns slain Stryker soldiersLee CowanLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan healthcare: shortage of clinicsPeasants visit commando training base for careBrian WilliamsAfghanistan
video thumbnailCBSWar on Drugs: opium crop rebounds in AfghanistanKandahar trafficking warlord may be paid by CIADavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCPakistan-US diplomacy: Secy Rodham Clinton visitsFaces opposition over US military, aid policiesAndrea MitchellPakistan
video thumbnailABCBank CCI moneylaundering scandal aftermathFormer fugitive felon returns, resumes bankingBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSEthiopia poverty relief: shoeless suffer foot diseaseToms Shoes entrepreneur provides free footwearDaniel SiebergEthiopia
video thumbnailCBSPresident Obama leads DNC campaign fundraisingUses White House as asset like his predecessorsSharyl AttkissonWashington DC
video thumbnailABCTeenage girl gang raped at high school danceAllege crowd stood and watched campus sex crimeRyan OwensCalifornia
video thumbnailABCPop singer Michael Jackson dies, aged 50Cappella fan makes six-part YouTube tributeDavid WrightWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
AFGHANISTAN LEADS GLOBAL AGENDA Day Two of NBC's feature focus on Afghanistan coincided with another day of headline news from there. Anchor Brian Williams was at Bagram Air Force Base but all three newscasts kicked off from Kabul. A guesthouse for United Nations monitors preparing to supervise next month's presidential election runoff was attacked by four gunmen disguised in police uniforms. The dawn assault was the Story of the Day. It led to a two-hour gunfight and firebombing. All four gunmen, five UN staffers, three security guards and an American contractor were killed. It was a busy day of international news with coverage from Pakistan and Ethiopia as well as Afghanistan. NBC split its anchoring chores, with Williams overseas and David Gregory taking care of the domestic beat in Washington DC.

ABC had the most dynamic rooftop videotape of the urban combat. Jim Sciutto was at the spot where one of the gunmen, attempting a rooftop escape, was shot and fell to his death. "Just as the first attack was ending, nearby explosions rocked our own hotel. Our camera crew filmed the first rocket and its impact." Sciutto's hotel is misleadingly called the Serena. NBC's Richard Engel noted that the fighting had moved to "what was Kabul's most secure neighborhood…The Taliban itself says that as this winter season begins it will be focusing more on Kabul and doing more attacks in urban areas."

NBC anchor Williams noted that Bagram AFB was operating round the clock. Yet F-15 air strikes will be useless if the combat turns urban. Gen Steven Kwast reassured him that the US Air Force has no plans to bomb downtown Kabul: "You would never use a weapon like this against the threat you describe--but we have special forces and we have intelligence capability," he suggested.

Consider how differently the war looks in Kabul and in Washington DC. ABC's Martha Raddatz reported from the Pentagon that an unidentified "senior official" had told her: "It seems quite clear that the Taliban and others are trying to influence the decisions regarding additional troop deployment." Yet such a motive was by no means clear in Kabul: "A Taliban spokesman said the attacks were a warning to people not to take part in the November 7th presidential runoff," reported ABC's Sciutto. CBS' Mandy Clark came to the same conclusion: "With just ten days to go before the elections, there are deepening concerns that the Taliban will fulfill its promise of creating even more chaos before the polls open."


SCOOP FILKINS From the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin picked up on reporting by The New York Times that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar warlord who is also the brother of Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai, is a CIA spy: "In other words the United States is reportedly bankrolling a man suspected of being a major player in the corruption that handcuffs American troops in their fight against the Taliban." CBS' Martin checked in with Gretchen Peters, a former producer in Pakistan for ABC News, now author of Seeds of Terror on the Afghan opium trade. Karzai's brother "is the one that will make sure that the customs and border police do not search trucks that are full of drugs," she stated.

NBC went straight to Dexter Filkins, the Times reporter who had the Karzai scoop. This is how he put it: "The president's brother is widely believed to be involved in the poppy trade, in the opium trade, which is no small thing here. Most of the profits go to the Taliban so they go right to killing American soldiers. The second thing I learned--which was really the most surprising--was that Ahmed Wali Karzai is paid regularly, and has been paid regularly, by the Central Intelligence Agency." For the record, CBS' Martin was fair and balanced: "For his part, Ahmed Wali Karzai denies any ties to the drug trade or the CIA."

It was altogether a bad day for the Karzai siblings. ABC's Jim Sciutto reported that the day's fighting in downtown Kabul included a raid on the home of the president's sister.


ECHOES OF VIETNAM NBC rounded out its Afghanistan coverage with a pair of features. As he did Tuesday, anchor Brian Williams reminded us that US military tactics repeat those of a previous Asian war: "You have heard over and over the use of that controversial Vietnam-era expression Winning the Hearts & Minds." He filed again from the secret camp in eastern Afghanistan where American commandos train their Afghan comrades: Tuesday he showed outreach by feeding villagers; now he profiles the base's clinic that provides healthcare to 100 locals each day. Lee Cowan filed from the home front. Fort Lewis, the base for USArmy Stryker brigades, has suffered 26 fatalities just since July. He showed us the "ever-growing memorial" outside the base and offered affecting snapshots of bereavement. Buddy Dahl, a veteran of Vietnam, had just buried his grandson: "I swore when I left Laos that I would never cry for a dead soldier again. It did not work."


CARBOMB GREETS RODHAM CLINTON NBC's Andrea Mitchell and CBS' Wyatt Andrews were also on the road in the region. They were part of the entourage of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she arrived in Islamabad. ABC assigned its Pakistan-based correspondent Nick Schifrin to cover her trip. Rodham Clinton's arrival coincided with the bombing of the Women's Market in Peshawar. "Local TV channels broadcast a split screen," ABC's Schifrin narrated. "On the right, Peshawar; on the left, Hillary Clinton tried to repair a damaged relationship." The carbomb "was designed to kill as many women and children as possible," CBS' Andrews observed. The death toll exceeded a hundred.

The two State Department correspondents had the same explanation for the antagonism against the United States that the Secretary encountered. CBS' Andrews paraphrased popular sentiment thus: "America pushed Pakistan into confronting the Taliban. The bombings are retaliation." NBC's Mitchell put it like this: "Pakistan's government, under intense US pressure, had began attacking the insurgents in their tribal strongholds…The extremists have started retaliating and as the violence has escalated so has public anger, much of it directed against the United States for aiding the government's anti-terror policy."

ABC's Schifrin accounted for "rising anti-Americanism" by looking at violence perpetrated by the United States itself not by Waziristan-based guerrillas. He quoted from Pakistani television. "Why is it that you are constantly using drone attacks inside Pakistan?" one talkshow host, Mubashar Luckman, asked Madame Secretary. "Why is it US officials are free to break Pakistani law?" asked another, Hamid Mir.


THE UNPOLANSKI Saad Shafi is a banker who took refuge in Pakistan in 1988, ABC's Brian Ross reminded us in his Investigates feature. Shafi was one of 14 accused felons running the infamous Bank of Credit & Commerce International. He was indicted for moneylaundering on behalf of Colombian narcotrafficantes. Why is the BCCI back in the news? "Prosecutors in Shafi's case dismissed the charges against him apparently to clear the books because they believed they would never be able to get the fugitive banker back to the United States for trial." Once the coast was clear, Shafi returned voluntarily; he became a US citizen; he is now running the Los Angeles branch of the Habib American Bank.

For Roman Polanski the worst of times; for Saad Shafi, the best of times, Ross reflected.


BUY ONE, GIVE ONE FREE Daniel Sieberg was on the road in Ethiopia for CBS' American Spirit series. He told us about podoconiosis, a disease of the feet that afflicts as many as one million shoeless Ethiopians in the mountains around Soddo. "Prolonged exposure to the soil, which has got volcanic ash in it, aggravates the skin." The cure is as simple as a pair of shoes. Sieberg offered free publicity to Blake Mycoskie, the owner of Toms Shoes, which pledges to donate a pair for every pair it sells. A self-styled social entrepreneur, Mycoskie was in Soddo fitting his wares.

Not only was Sieberg publicizing Toms, he also performed a tiny bit of cross-promotion for his own network: "If he looks familiar, Mycoskie appeared with his sister on the CBS reality show Amazing Race in 2002."


CRASS BUT NOT HYPOCRITICAL If there was a scandal in the Follow the Money investigation CBS filed in partnership with the Washington Times it consisted of being crass. Sharyl Attkisson pointed to the President as the Democratic National Committee's "biggest rainmaker" for its midterm elections campaign chest. "Megadonors are scoring invitations to exclusive White House affairs, access to senior officials, even the Executive Office bowling alley." She called such incentives "controversial but not unusual." She produced a DNC memo with a list of rewards for the most productive bundlers of donations. Goodies included "quarterly meetings with senior members of the Obama Administration, twice-monthly conference calls" and an invitation to "contribute to shaping policy agendas."

This stinks of influence peddling but Attkisson did not dwell on that. Instead her problem with Barack Obama was hypocrisy. As a candidate, she claimed, he "implied things would be different," a claim that flies in the face of the facts. Candidate Obama broke all records for campaign contributions when he was running and even disavowed public financing of his candidacy. He never implied that money could be separated from politics.


BYSTANDERS GET A CLOSER LOOK ABC zeroed in on that gang rape at Richmond High School a day after Sandra Hughes covered it on CBS. Yet the two hours of brutality suffered by a teenage girl after Saturday's homecoming dance at the school gymnasium were scandalous enough that they deserved A Closer Look. Ryan Owens explained the sick loophole in California law that made it legal for a crowd of bystanders to watch as up to ten young men forced themselves on the student. "It is a crime not to report the rape of a child 14 years or younger; the victim in this case is 15."


THE JACKSON SIX This Is It, SONY's blockbuster documentary tribute to the late Michael Jackson enjoyed Ben Tracy's free publicity on CBS on Tuesday. Sam Tsui's contribution has a smaller budget yet attracts a million-strong audience on YouTube. Tsui is an a cappella singer who has laid down six vocal harmony tracks of his favorite Jackson tunes and digitally edited the video to appear as a group of identical sextuplets. "The technology is simple enough," ABC's David Wright showed us. "Really it is just the magic of TV."