"No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving God looks upon them with favor." Thus President Barack Obama indirectly disposed of the suspicion that last week's massacre at Fort Hood was inspired by the accused killer's Islamic religion. The President was speaking at a memorial service at the base for the slain 13, attended by some 15,000 soldiers. The killings were Story of the Day (23 min v 18 Monday, 44 Friday, 41 Thursday) for the fourth straight weekday since they occurred.    
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video thumbnailNBCFort Hood shooting spree: 13 soldiers killed on basePresident Obama addresses base memorial serviceMark PotterTexas
video thumbnailABCFort Hood shooting spree: 13 soldiers killed on baseSuspect Hasan was screened for threat, clearedBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingBritain's PM Brown bungles condolence letterRichard RothLondon
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan healthcare: shortage of clinicsSystem may be overwhelmed by H1N1 'flu outbreakMandy ClarkAfghanistan
video thumbnailNBCAIDS: epidemic devastates sub-Saharan AfricaOrphanage funded by singer Alicia Keys' charityLester HoltSouth Africa
video thumbnailABCWar on Cancer research effortsGenetic treatment experiment attracts applicantsJohn McKenzieBoston
video thumbnailCBSInside-the-Beltway sniper serial murders recalledVirginia prepares to execute John MuhammadBob OrrMaryland
video thumbnailCBSRape cases investigation, prosecution shortfallTardy testing of kits permit serial offensesArmen KeteyianNew York
video thumbnailNBCTV late-night host David Letterman alleges extortionDefendant calls it a screenplay, not shakedownPeter AlexanderNew York
video thumbnailABCTV children's show Sesame Street celebratedMulticultural trendsetter's 40th anniversaryDavid MuirNew York
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF LEADS MOURNING AT FORT HOOD "No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving God looks upon them with favor." Thus President Barack Obama indirectly disposed of the suspicion that last week's massacre at Fort Hood was inspired by the accused killer's Islamic religion. The President was speaking at a memorial service at the base for the slain 13, attended by some 15,000 soldiers. The killings were Story of the Day (23 min v 18 Monday, 44 Friday, 41 Thursday) for the fourth straight weekday since they occurred.

CBS and NBC both led off with coverage of the memorial from the base itself. NBC's Mark Potter said it had been "a solemn day here, of pain and remembrance." CBS' Dean Reynolds saw the army "draw on all of its traditions to bid farewell to the fallen"--the so-called battlefield crosses of boots, rifle, bayonet and helmet; the calling of the roll, in which the living respond with Here, Sergeant Major and the dead respond with silence. "The absences broke the heart," CBS' Reynolds reflected. ABC chose to have anchor Charles Gibson narrate the observances from his New York City studio and assign Bob Woodruff (at the tail of the Gibson videostream) at Fort Hood to a round-up of how the bereaved watched the service on television--from St Paul to Spokane to Main Street in smalltown Wisconsin.

HAT TIPS FOR WAPO’S POWERPOINT SCOOP Monday, correspondents disagreed on the import of the accused Fort Hood killer's e-mail correspondence with his onetime imam Anwar al-Awlaki. ABC's Brian Ross reported that Major Nidal Hasan was reaching out to an al-Qaeda recruiter. CBS' Bob Orr called it a benign request for spiritual guidance. NBC's Pete Williams characterized it as job-related. Now the same three correspondents follow up with details of a correspondence that may have included two dozen exchanges. Ross backtracks--without acknowledging his implicit retraction--calling them "innocent," dealing with "religious issues, cultural issues," according to his unidentified sources. NBC's Williams and CBS' Orr both repeated their reporting about their innocuous, although Orr now categorizes al-Awlaki as having "ties to al-Qaeda," a connection he never asserted on Monday.

ABC's Ross also vaguely told us that a "senior American official" had told him that, besides the imam al-Awlaki, investigators have found that Hasan had "more unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI." He did not elaborate.

A Washington Post scoop from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was given a proper hat tip from all three reporters. The Post had uncovered a PowerPoint presentation made by Major Hasan in 2007 on the moral quandary facing soldiers who happen to profess Islam. Hasan's presentation stated that it is "harder and harder" for them to justify service in an army "that seems constantly engaged against fellow Moslems." He recommended offering the option of Conscientious Objector status in order to increase troop morale and decrease adverse events. NBC's Williams pointed out that such CO status would not have applied to Major Hasan, since his duties were in medicine not in combat. CBS' Orr took offense at the contents of the PowerPoint, calling its contents "shocking" and evidence of "growing radicalization."

By the way, does Major Hasan happen to be a skilled psychiatrist? NBC's Williams reported that his performance evaluation was "strongly positive…making important contributions to the army." CBS' Orr said he received "poor performance reviews at Walter Reed."

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER… Following David Martin's Exclusive and confident reporting from the Pentagon for CBS on Monday that President Barack Obama has already decided to reinforce the troops in Afghanistan with four combat brigades to be deployed through 2014, NBC's Savannah Guthrie came up with a contrary report of a tentative White House. Guthrie reported that four separate policy options have been formally submitted to the President in writing. All would increase troop levels, the smallest by 10,000, the largest by 44,000. "This decision is still weeks away."

Meanwhile the death of a British soldier in Afghanistan has embarrassed Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Obama's NATO ally sent a handwritten condolence note to Jacqui Janes, the soldier's bereaved mother. "Penmanship was part of the problem," commented CBS' Richard Roth, when she called Brown's letter "an absolute insult." She sent it to The Sun newspaper, which printed a facsimile, claiming that it contained 25 separate spelling mistakes, including that of her name and of the dead soldier Jamie. Penmanship is the half of it, Roth suggested: "With 232 British deaths in Afghanistan and public support fading, he also has a problem with the war."

KABUL ‘FLU & DURBAN AIDS A couple of contrasting healthcare stories from the developing world were aired on NBC and CBS. CBS had Mandy Clark file a portmanteau package that combined a pair of headline grabbers--Afghanistan and H1N1. She told us about the killer swine strain 'flu outbreak in Kabul, where schools and universities are closed, hospitals are underfunded and vaccine is unavailable. "Kabul is not the healthiest of environments at the best of times. There is no infrastructure for sewage or clean water, perfect conditions for a 'flu pandemic."

NBC's hard news standards were certainly slipping when it decided to devote an entire week of Making a Difference features to celebrities who volunteer for charity causes. Monday had Brian Williams, the anchor from New Jersey, profile Jon Bon Jovi, the rock singer turned housing activist from New Jersey. Part two saw Lester Holt trying to be less star struck, more interested in the underlying problem that his celebrity, singer Alicia Keys, is trying to alleviate. He traveled to Durban in a region of South Africa where the HIV infection rate is as high as 40%. Keys' foundation Keep a Child Alive fundraises for antiviral medication for orphanages there.

Holt still could not deliver a proper hard news report. What is the medication shortfall in that part of South Africa? What contribution is KCA making? Can charity be expected to be the solution to Africa's HIV/AIDS crisis? Why not government and organized international aid? What is the concrete difference that Keys' involvement is making?

ABC INSPIRES HUNDREDS TO CALL; SEVERAL ARE CHOSEN ABC evinced an air of self-congratulation when John McKenzie filed a follow-up report on an experimental cancer treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In a June On the Cutting Edge report, McKenzie told us about genetic cancer screening: it can find unusual mutations in tumors of one organ that can be treated by medicines approved for tumors in another body part. Bill Schuette, a World News viewer in Dayton Ohio who had undergone seven different rounds of unsuccessful chemotherapy, saw McKenzie's report in June and contacted the Boston hospital. His tumor was eligible for the experiment and his lung cancer is now improving.

Unfortunately, Schuette is the exception. Massachusetts General cancer researcher Alice Shaw told McKenzie that she received "hundreds of phone calls" after his Cutting Edge report aired. She has been able to help "several."

SNIPERS & RAPISTS CBS aired a couple of violent crime stories. Bob Orr made his second appearance of the newscast to mark the looming execution of John Allen Muhammad by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Muhammad and his teenage accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo formed the sniper team that killed ten people in the suburbs of Washington DC in the fall of 2002. Orr reminded us of the terrified Beltway.

Armen Keteyian filed the second part of his Investigation into the failure of police to pursue rape as a serious crime. Monday he reported that a mere 25% of rape complaints nationwide result in arrest and prosecution, "a fraction of the rate for murder and aggravated assault." He called rape "surprisingly easy to get away with." Keteyian argued that this low rate is a deliberate policy: in New York City, for example, "prosecutors decided no more free passes for alleged rapists" and raised its arrest rate to 70%.

Monday, Keteyian pointed to forensic testing of evidence: "A staggering number of rape kits that could contain incriminating DNA evidence have never been sent to crime labs for testing." He cited the explanation from police departments that the $1,500 lab costs are too expensive. In part two, Keteyian noted that in 2003, the federal government allocated $755m to clear up a testing backlog "but still delays remain."

LATE NIGHT ON SESAME STREET Rounding out the day, television news selected a pair of television stories. NBC assigned Peter Alexander to explain the defense that Joe Halderman, the CBS News producer, plans to make against charges that he tried to blackmail David Letterman, CBS' late-night talkshow host. Halderman did not want $2m to keep quiet about Letterman's sexual relationships with female Late Show staffers, the argument went. It was all about show business. He was "simply trying to sell a tell-all screenplay about the comedian's private sexual relationships, asking price $2m."

On ABC, David Muir got to hang out with some of the favorite television stars of his childhood as PBS' Sesame Street celebrated its 40th birthday. "Yes," Muir confessed to Muppets, "I was a kid at one point."