President Barack Obama continued to dominate the week's news agenda as he switched from foreign policy to the domestic economy. Both CBS and ABC led their newscasts with the Story of the Day from the White House where the President convened a panel of business executives, labor leaders and academic economists for a so-called Jobs Summit. ABC had Charles Gibson in Washington DC to anchor its newscast. NBC decided to lead with Obama's other domestic priority, the healthcare reform debate in the Senate.    
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video thumbnailCBSUnemployment: joblessness, corporate layoffs persistJobs Summit mulls training, incentives, creditsChip ReidWhite House
video thumbnailABCUnemployment: joblessness, corporate layoffs persistFederal stimulus boosted housing, municipal jobsChris BuryPhiladelphia
video thumbnailNBCBreast cancer coverageSenate votes to protect mammography screeningKelly O'DonnellCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSIndia-US diplomacy: White House state dinnerHouse hearings on Secret Service security snafuBob OrrWashington DC
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingTroop build-up helps Logar Province villagersMartha RaddatzAfghanistan
video thumbnailNBCEnglish exchange student murdered in Perugia, ItalySeattle coed denies sex triangle killingKeith MillerItaly
video thumbnailCBSTeenage dating can feature abusive behaviorViolence prevention taught in HS public healthKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailNBCFashion glamor photography is routinely retouchedWomen's bodies distorted; warning labels debatedStephanie GoskParis
video thumbnailNBCNBC-Universal sold to Comcast by General ElectricPlans switch from broadcast to on-demand videoDavid FaberNew York
video thumbnailABCTV talent show in Britain has Plain Jane singerSusan Boyle's CD I Dreamed a Dream tops chartsDavid MuirNew York
MOVING ON FROM AFGHANISTAN TO THE JOBS SUMMIT President Barack Obama continued to dominate the week's news agenda as he switched from foreign policy to the domestic economy. Both CBS and ABC led their newscasts with the Story of the Day from the White House where the President convened a panel of business executives, labor leaders and academic economists for a so-called Jobs Summit. ABC had Charles Gibson in Washington DC to anchor its newscast. NBC decided to lead with Obama's other domestic priority, the healthcare reform debate in the Senate.

ABC's Jake Tapper called continuing unemployment "the single most confounding issue on the President's domestic agenda." NBC's Chuck Todd compared jobs with the war in Afghanistan and concluded that they are "easily more politically potent." The summit mulled more deficit spending to provide fiscal stimulus, including tax breaks for businesses and subsidies for energy-efficient projects. ABC's Tapper was just obsequious in his selection of a soundbite from an executive lobbying for lower corporate taxes: it happened to be from Walt Disney's Bob Iger, Tapper's own boss.

On CBS, Chip Reid balanced the White House gabfest with reaction from Obama's critics: union activists protested for hundreds of billions more in infrastructure spending; Republicans called the summit "little more than a political stunt" citing the 3.5m layoffs that have occurred since Obama took office.

CBS had Dean Reynolds follow up on the 2.5m jobs that still need to be filled nationwide. He found that many remain open because of a lack of job training. CBS' Reid picked up on one solution being floated at the Jobs Summit: public schools should stay open at night to train adults in new technologies. On ABC, Chris Bury checked into federal spending from this spring's $727bn stimulus. He found jobs for property rehabilitation in Philadelphia, for police in St Louis, for teachers in Virginia--"safer streets, stronger schools, better housing."

NO MAMMOGRAM CO-PAYS NBC picked up on "a lot of emotion and a lot of anger" for its lead item. Kelly O'Donnell was referring to the headlines of two weeks ago when the federal Preventive Services Taskforce recommended that fewer mammograms be performed to screen for breast cancer. The Senate responded with an amendment to healthcare reform legislation that required insurance companies to cover mammography--plus screening for cervical cancer, post-partum depression and domestic violence--with no out-of-pocket costs for female patients. NBC's O'Donnell noted that "things rarely happen this fast" on Capitol Hill. Neither ABC nor CBS deemed the amendment newsworthy enough even to mention.

CRASHER BASHERS The Congressional action that did attract coverage from correspondents on all three newscasts was a House hearing into Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the pair of uninvited guests who attended last week's state dinner at the White House. "This time they had a formal invitation and even a reserved table with name cards," quipped CBS' Bob Orr, as the couple refused to show up to testify about their "partycrashing escapade." NBC's Savannah Guthrie evoked the committee's mood of crasher bashing with a series of soundbites about the Salahis in their absence: "serial con artists"…"pathologically egomaniacal"…"a criminal activity." ABC's Pierre Thomas played the humiliating answer from Director Mark Sullivan of the Secret Service about the aspiring reality TV characters. "How did you discover that the Salahis had entered?" "Facebook."

The White House hardly survived the hearing honorably. When Social Secretary Desiree Rogers invoked executive privilege in order to refuse to testify, CBS' Orr observed that such a rationale was usually reserved for "politically charged and highly controversial cases" like Whitewater--not a bungled list of dinner guests. NBC's Guthrie noted that the White House staff will be working hard over the holidays: they expect a total of 50,000 visitors to attend 28 separate events.

LOGAR LOGISTICS After all the hoopla about Afghanistan at the start of the week only ABC followed up. Martha Raddatz filed A Closer Look from her recent trip to Logar Province. She showed us what reinforcements look like when they cost $1m per soldier per year. Since January, the Tenth Mountain Division's Forward Operating Base Shank has grown from a population of 300 to 3,300. It is now "a huge military base with housing, logistics centers and an airstrip." In those ten months, the local village has prospered: its market now has street lights; its streets are paved; its people have healthcare; its commerce has quadrupled. In that time the division has suffered 28 deaths and "260 bear the scars of war."

COURIC’S ANXIETY-RIDDEN WORLD OF TEENAGE TRAUMA CBS anchor Katie Couric filed one of her lengthy Reports on troubled teenage romances. When young love goes bad, she reminded us, it can lead to jealousy, possessiveness, obsession, controling behavior--sometimes to emotional abuse and sexual violence.

What made these unsurprising observations worthy of seven full minutes of the anchor's reportage? Couric offered a bold assertion that there is "an alarming trend of escalating violence in teenage relationships." Yet she offered no data to justify that claim. Her only statistic was that the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline handles five times more volume in telephone calls and online messages now than it did two years ago. She did not inquire whether the helpline is more popular or whether the underlying problem is more severe.

Besides a busier helpline, Couric offered three anecdotes of abuse--a 15-year-old whose ex-boyfriend stalked her; an 18-year-old whose boyfriend raped her; and a girlfriend who was stabbed to death. The latter hardly contributed to Couric's story since the dead woman was 23 at the time of her death. Couric also used a tabloid tale to introduce her report--the abuse of the pop star Rihanna. Again, the celebrity Rihanna was no teenager when her singer boyfriend beat her.

Couric also tried cultural generalizations to make her case. Teenagers "are growing up in a world where violence is everywhere…constantly bombarded with pop culture images objectifying and degrading women…relentless texting, constant instant messaging and virtual mind games played out on social networking sites." These observations may or may not be true but they hardly add up to proof that teenage love is any more cruel and vicious nowadays than it used to be.

Last July, Couric's Reports turned to a related tale of moral panic by worrying about Innocence Lost, a two-part feature (here and here) on under-age prostitutes. Again, Couric offered three anecdotes to illustrate the problem--and again only two of the three turned out to be teenagers and only one younger than the age of consent; a third turned tricks to pay for her college tuition. In the last three years, CBS has filed reports on teenage girls' violence online (here and here), teenage pregnancy (here and here) and teenage browsing of online pornography while ABC and NBC have found none of those topics newsworthy.

Let's all take a deep breath, shall we?

In Couric's defense, her twin anxieties about vicious young love and distorted images of women did find an echo in a pair of stories filed on NBC from Europe. Keith Miller was in Perugia for the closing arguments in the sex-triangle murder prosecution of Amanda Knox, the 22-year-old Seattle coed. Miller told us that Italian prosecutors have changed their theory of the case "from a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong to a brutal act of revenge." Stephanie Gosk was in Paris where the French parliament is set to debate a law that would require Photoshop warning labels. Any magazine that printed a photographic image that had been retouched would be obliged to notify its readers that its models look different in real life.

MEET THE NEW BOSS NBC called in David Faber from CNBC, its sibling financial news cable channel, to file an in-house report. The ownership of NBC News will be transferred: General Electric is reducing its share of NBC Universal from 80% to 49%; Comcast, the cable operator, will take a controling 51% interest. "Comcast wants to grow by offering more programming on demand," CNBC's Faber explained, both on its cable systems and online. Under the plan, Universal Studios' movies will become more readily available at home and NBC Sports will expand into cable "to rival sports powerhouse ESPN." NBC anchor Brian Williams self-deprecatingly thanked Faber for deigning to turn up on his "appointment television" newscast.

ABC closed with a less-hard nosed multimedia story. David Muir reminded us of the celebrity progress of Susan Boyle, the Scottish spinster chanteuse. She started on a reality TV show in Britain…became a YouTube star with 310m viewers…and parlayed that into #1 on the hit parade with her CD I Dreamed a Dream. She made her name online yet sells more music "the old-fashioned way" on a disc than by digital download. "Irony," mused Muir.