The networks came up with a split decision on the Story of the Day. ABC led with a security breakdown inside the Department of Homeland Security. CBS chose a huge early winter blizzard crossing the country from the desert southwest to the Great Lakes. NBC kicked off from the White House as Barack Obama proposed a second phase of fiscal stimulus to try to lower the 10% rate of unemployment. All three White House correspondents covered the President's plan and it qualified as Story of the Day.    
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCUnemployment: joblessness. corporate layoffs persistPresident Obama urges federal hiring subsidiesSavannah GuthrieWhite House
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingGen McChrystal previews coming months of warfareJim MiklaszewskiPentagon
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingSecretary Gates holds talks on troop trainingTerry McCarthyAfghanistan
video thumbnailABCIraq: terrorist suicide bombings target civiliansCoordinated blasts in downtown Baghdad kill 127Jim SciuttoLondon
video thumbnailABCAirline travel: anti-terrorism security precautionsSecret manual for TSA screening posted onlineBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailNBCAndes glacier depletion sparks Peru water warsReduced mountain run-off harms dry coastal zoneAnne ThompsonPeru
video thumbnailCBSGreenland glacier depletion exposes fresh landsOpens for tourism, mineral extraction, drillingMark PhillipsGreenland
video thumbnailCBSWinter weatherEarly season blizzard blankets western desertDean ReynoldsChicago
video thumbnailNBC2010 Massachusetts Senate special electionPrimary contest for Edward Kennedy's mantleKelly O'DonnellBoston
video thumbnailABCGolf champion Tiger Woods in late night car crashTabloid focus on marital woes, tarnished imageDavid MuirNew York
OBAMA’S JOBS PLAN ONLY JUST HEADS AGENDA The networks came up with a split decision on the Story of the Day. ABC led with a security breakdown inside the Department of Homeland Security. CBS chose a huge early winter blizzard crossing the country from the desert southwest to the Great Lakes. NBC kicked off from the White House as Barack Obama proposed a second phase of fiscal stimulus to try to lower the 10% rate of unemployment. All three White House correspondents covered the President's plan and it qualified as Story of the Day.

"They do not like to use this word around here but this amounts to a second stimulus," announced NBC's Savannah Guthrie as she described the package of infrastructure projects, business tax breaks, energy efficiency subsidies and an extension of jobless benefits that will total around $150bn. CBS' Chip Reid called the package "essentially a second stimulus even though only about a third of the first stimulus has been spent or--as Republicans say--wasted." ABC's Jake Tapper told us that most of the money would be diverted from the Treasury Department's TARP fund that had initially helped high finance on Wall Street but would now target credit-starved small businesses and homebuyers.

CBS' Reid paraphrased the President's Keynesian argument for the additional $150bn in deficit spending: "What this nation needs to do is spend its way out of the recession." Then Reid paraphrased Republican criticism that "whatever the cost it is going to plunge the nation deeper into debt." That line of argument, of course, is no criticism whatsoever. If such spending did not increase the National Debt then it would not be stimulative.

NBC anchor Brian Williams checked in with CNBC's in-house economist Steve Liesman about the plan's feasibility. "The Great American Jobs Machine is sputtering right now and is not going to come back without some government assistance. Will this plan create jobs? Certainly it will create some jobs. Is it the answer to the long-term unemployment problem in this country? Almost certainly not."

MCCHRYSTAL’S MILESTONES TO SUCCESS The trio of Pentagon correspondents covered Gen Stanley McChrystal's gung-ho testimony on Capitol Hill about his prospects in Afghanistan. ABC anchor Charles Gibson suggested to Martha Raddatz that the general sounded unusually confident: "Frankly I was surprised," she agreed. CBS' David Martin heard McChrystal list milestones in July 2010, then in December 2010, then in July 2011 to monitor "whether the surge was working."

CBS' Martin described the war one way: "What the Taliban want is to control Afghanistan. US troops can almost certainly prevent that." NBC's Jim Miklaszewski described a different mission altogether: "The United States can keep Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda." CBS covered the Kabul angle, with Terry McCarthy following the talks between President Hamid Karzai and Secretary Robert Gates. Karzai asked for five years to complete training his army--and for at least 15 years of US military aid to pay for it. "Many Afghans think that 18-month timetable is too short and fear that once again they may be abandoned to a civil war," CBS' McCarthy found.

BLOODY BAGHDAD Baghdad's Bloody Wednesday, ABC's Jim Sciutto reminded us, was back in August when coordinated bombs killed more than 120 people. Its Bloody Sunday was in October when a pair of busbombs killed 155. Now five explosions hit government ministry buildings, a mosque and a college, leaving almost 130 dead: "Iraqis are already calling today Bloody Tuesday." ABC's Sciutto and CBS' Elizabeth Palmer both narrated videotape of the carnage from each network's London bureau. Palmer called the scene "depressingly familiar." NBC mentioned the mayhem only in passing. CBS anchor Katie Couric asked Gen Raymond Odierno why Iraqi security forces were not more successful at stopping the carbombs. "In two cases," he answered, "actually they were stopped at police checkpoints. Unfortunately one of the bombs went off."

REDACTIONS HACKED ABC's Brian Ross and CBS' Bob Orr both picked up on the 93-page manual for screening passengers at airline terminals posted online by the Transportation Security Administration as part of a request for contract bids. CBS' Orr noted that each page carried the disclaimer: "Warning! This record contains sensitive security information. No part may be disclosed without a need to know." To keep the secret parts secret, the TSA had redacted passages with a blacked-out overstrike. "With a few key strokes bloggers were able to quickly remove the black," ABC's Ross explained. The redactions would have been hackproof by using "a simple black magic marker instead of a fancy computer program," Ross shrugged.

PASTORURI & ILULISSAT Both NBC and CBS continued their global warming travelogues. Monday each worried about rising sea levels inundating low-lying lands on the shores of the Indian Ocean. CBS' Mark Phillips had fun in The Maldives; NBC's Ian Williams foretold misery in Bangladesh. Now both take on melting glaciers: NBC's A Perfect Storm in the Cordillera Blanca in the high Andes; CBS' Eye on… off the coast of Greenland.

Again CBS had fun and NBC presaged doom. NBC's Anne Thompson told us that the Pastoruri Glacier supplies 80% of Peru's potable water and its runoff's hydropower supplies 80% of the nation's electricity. Yet it is melting so quickly that it has lost 40% of its mass in just 13 years. The glacier will be gone by 2022. On the coastal zone lies Lima, Peru's capital, population 8m, with just 2% of Peru's water. It is "dire downstream," Thompson warned.

Meanwhile, climate change has raised winter temperatures in Greenland from -40C to -25C, CBS' Phillips smiled. The Ilulissat Glacier is melting so fast that its wall is now up a fjord 50 miles away from the coast. The land is open to extreme tourism--will Johannes Mathaussen ever become a Sled Dog Millionaire?--and to exploration for gold, copper and iron ore. Greenland's capital Nuuk, population 17,000, enjoys a building boom.

NOT THE CLIMATE, JUST WEATHER Switching from the warming global climate to local winter weather, NBC had meteorologist Mike Seidel, from its sibling cable network The Weather Channel, offer a blizzard forecast from Des Moines. ABC and CBS used regular reporters from their Chicago bureaus. Blizzard warnings were posted for Nebraska, Iowa and adjoining states: "Traveling by road in the path of the storm now is flatly reckless," CBS' Dean Reynolds stated. "Much of the Midwest is a sheet of ice," ABC's Barbara Pinto concurred.

NO MORE KENNEDYS Local politics in Massachusetts was covered by NBC's Kelly O'Donnell. The Democratic Party held a primary for its nominee in January's special election for the commonwealth's vacant seat in the US Senate. The victor "is expected to easily defeat the Republican," O'Donnell assured us as she cursorily ticked off Stephen Pagliuca, Alan Khazei, Michael Capuano and Martha Coakley, all vying for the nod. The figure that was absent was the reason the contest crossed over as a national story: "Truly missed in Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy is at the heart of one last election."

ABC CANNOT BE SERIOUS ABC's World News dispensed with all its serious news before its first commercial. It rounded out its newscast with three pieces of fluff, each of which would have been fine for a light-hearted closer on its own. Taken together, ABC just did not seem to be treating its audience seriously.

Anchor Charles Gibson voiced over some radical surfing video from Waimea Bay on Oahu…Steve Osunsami introduced us to the puppy dog Ally, adopted by a Fort Campbell corporal on the battlefield in Afghanistan…and David Muir recapitulated the tabloid gossip mill--from Gawker to Radar Online to Good Morning America to Twitter to People--that follows "every development, traveling at lightning speed" of the tawdry travails of Tiger Woods.

Apparently the only place you will not see the golf champion, Muir noted, is next to a sponsor's product: "Nielsen reported that no TV ads featuring Tiger Woods have aired now in more than a week."