CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARCH 03, 2010
All three newscasts chose the corridors of Congressional power for their lead item. NBC kicked off from the House of Representatives, where Chairman Charles Rangel of the Ways & Means Committee relinquished his gavel while his ethics undergo scrutiny. CBS and ABC both chose the White House, as Barack Obama decided to put an end to negotiations over healthcare reform and to submit the legislation to a final up-or-down vote: "Every idea has been put on the table. Everything argument has been made. Everything there is to say about health care has been said." The looming climax to the year-long healthcare debate was Story of the Day.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MARCH 03, 2010: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailABCHealthcare reform: universal and managed carePresident Obama demands immediate vote on HillJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailNBCRep Charles Rangel (D-NY) faces ethics probeRelinquishes Ways & Means Committee chairKelly O'DonnellCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSIraq: political progress, parliamentary electionsVoting begins amid fears of bombers' sabotageElizabeth PalmerBaghdad
video thumbnailABCSuspected al-Qaeda network leaders manhuntDeserted cave hideout found in northern PakistanMartha RaddatzWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSChile earthquake hits city of Concepcion: Richter 8.8City faces water, electricity shortages, lootingMark StrassmannChile
video thumbnailNBCChile earthquake hits city of Concepcion: Richter 8.8Tsunami wiped out waterfront in ConstitucionMark PotterChile
video thumbnailABCAdoption of Haitian immigrant orphans controversyDocu on drawbacks of life with white parentsRon ClaiborneNew York
video thumbnailNBCSalmon fishery depleted in Pacific North WestOcean fish farms cause infections in wild stockTom BrokawBritish Columbia
video thumbnailCBSTeenage girl jogger goes missing near San DiegoFound dead, former convict accused of murderBen TracyLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCAir safety: air-traffic-control system problemsChild visits JFK tower, issues instructionsTom CostelloWashington DC
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
OBAMA ORDERS CLIMAX TO HEALTHCARE DEBATE, AGAIN All three newscasts chose the corridors of Congressional power for their lead item. NBC kicked off from the House of Representatives, where Chairman Charles Rangel of the Ways & Means Committee relinquished his gavel while his ethics undergo scrutiny. CBS and ABC both chose the White House, as Barack Obama decided to put an end to negotiations over healthcare reform and to submit the legislation to a final up-or-down vote: "Every idea has been put on the table. Everything argument has been made. Everything there is to say about health care has been said." The looming climax to the year-long healthcare debate was Story of the Day.

The President had already called a halt to deliberations last September and this January, NBC's Chuck Todd reminded us: "This is not the first time Obama has tried to end the debate." ABC's Jake Tapper noted the stagecraft of the announcement, with the President "flanked by medical professionals in TV friendly hospital clothes." CBS' Chip Reid reminded us one more time of the bill's key points: regulation of the insurance industry, coverage for the uninsured, expansion of Medicaid, subsidies for the poor to pay for premiums, taxes on the rich to pay for subsidies.

So does the White House have the votes? NBC's Todd reckoned so: "Republicans seemed to concede that Democrats would probably pass something--and shifted their focus to how it would play at the ballot box." Political analysts on the other two networks were not so sure. "The truth is top strategists in the White House, the Senate and the House simply do not know if they can get the votes. They put the odds at about 50/50 right now," opined George Stephanopoulos on ABC. CBS consulted Bob Schieffer (at the tail of the Reid videostream) of Face the Nation: "House leaders say they can get those votes for him by the time this comes to a vote but as of tonight, as of right now, they do not have the votes."


THE TAX MAN LEAVETH NBC's Kelly O'Donnell quoted Charles Rangel's explanation for leaving his chair overseeing the House Ways & Means Committee: "In order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections." The Democrat from Harlem NY has already been admonished for taking corporate-financed trips to the Caribbean. "More serious questions are still under investigation," O'Donnell warned, including unpaid taxes and low-rent deals on Manhattan apartments. "His colleagues were abandoning him," noted ABC's George Stephanopoulos…"Freshmen Democrats in particular, were worried that all these ethics problems were going to reflect poorly on the Party come November," was how Nancy Cordes put it on CBS.


BACK IN BAGHDAD The US military discontinued patrols in Iraq's cities at the end of June last year. As far as the network nightly newscasts were concerned that might as well have been the end of the story. In the eight months since then there have been just three reports filed with a Baghdad dateline (and one of those focused on Afghanistan) and zero from elsewhere in Iraq. So it was a surprise to see Elizabeth Palmer in Baghdad for CBS ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections filing a fourth: "Election fever here is tempered by election fear. Everyone remembers the huge truck bombs last fall in the heart of Baghdad that killed more than 150 people." Sure enough, bombs hit police stations and a hospital in the city of Baquba, killing more than two dozen people.


RADDATZ WATCHES THE VIDEOTAPE ABC obtained fascinating footage from Damadola, a village high in the mountains of northern Pakistan. The videotape showed an abandoned complex of more than 150 caves and tunnels, with underground dormitory-style barracks and an arsenal of artillery shells, rocket-propelled grenades and land mines. Martha Raddatz reported that al-Qaeda and anti-government Taliban guerrillas had used the caves as a base as recently as one week ago. Unfortunately she was not in the mountains to confirm that story first hand. She studied the video in Washington DC with Andrew Exum, a onetime commando, along with the rest of us.


WALL OF WATER All three networks still have correspondents in Chile as the coverage of the aftermath of last weekend's earthquake winds down (6 min v Monday's 21, Tuesday's 15). CBS had Mark Strassmann file from Concepcion, the major city in the earthquake region, where water is scarce, electricity is non-existent and looters roam. ABC and NBC both sent correspondents to the coast. NBC's Mark Potter visited Constitucion, which bore the brunt of the tsunami. ABC's David Wright filed from the same scene on Tuesday. "To fully understand the scope of the damage here, you really have to come here to see it in person but when you do, it is hard to believe," Potter assured us. Seeing the 50-foot high water mark, his incredulity was justified.

ABC's Wright moved on to the coastal village of Pelluehlo, which had an aftershock while he was there. He followed the villagers as they ran for the hills to avoid another tsunami. This time it was a false alarm. Yet, Wright mused, "the people who live on this beautiful coastline now cannot help but look at those waves as potentially deadly."


THE AFRICAN SCANDINAVIAN In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, ABC followed up on the adoption angle. Ron Claiborne introduced us to Duke and Lisa Scoppa who have adopted a pair of orphans, four-year-old Erickson and the infant Thurlene. Claiborne used the newly-formed Scoppa family as a hook to publicize Outside Looking In, an autobiographical documentary made Phil Bertelsen. Bertelsen is African-American, adopted at age four by Scandinavian-Americans: "It creates a lonely feeling," Bertelsen warned. As for the Scoppas, they have no apologies about their Haitian brood. Concluded Claiborne, what the Scoppas are doing is "not wrong…just not easy."


BROKAW HANGS OUT IN BC NBC Nightly News former anchor Tom Brokaw continues his role as an occasional feature reporter (playlist here) for his onetime newscast. He extended his stay in British Columbia after covering the Vancouver Winter Olympics to worry about the depletion of its sockeye salmon fishery for NBC's Our Planet series. Brokaw ticked off climate change, overfishing and industrialization as factors in the sockeye shortage before pointing an accusing finger at fish farms. The farms are a breeding ground for sea lice, which then spread to salmon in the wild. Consumers are organizing boycotts of farm-raised fish and some ecofriendly fish farmers are switching to freshwater facilities.


EXASPERATING COMPOUNDED BY INFLAMMATORY I have already complained about how exasperating I found Terry Moran's report on ABC on Tuesday about the recidivism of sexual offenders upon release from prison. Well now Ben Tracy enters the same murky waters for CBS. Tracy's starting point was the death of Chelsea King, a 17-year-old who was out jogging near her San Diego home. John Gardner, a 30-year-old ex-con, stands accused of her rape and murder. The scope of Tracy's report, however, went well beyond this case. Like Moran, his sights were on the entire parole system of registries for former sexual offenders released from prison.

Tracy's examples were Philip Garrido, who kidnapped a eleven-year-old girl and held her prisoner for 18 years, and the serial murders of eleven women in Cleveland, discovered last November. In both cases, the accused criminal was listed in a sexual offenders' registry and was under active supervision. Tracy's conclusion: "If convicted, Gardner will now spend the rest of his life behind bars but, some say, if the system were tougher, he would already be there."

Yet it turns out that the criticisms of the "system" that Tracy found in Gardner's case had no parallels whatsoever with Jaycee Dugard or those Cleveland horrors. Tracy explained that Gardner had been sentenced for five years in 2000 for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor. At the time, his psychiatrist had advised a 30-year term because "he was a continued danger to under-age girls in his community." Prosecutors negotiated the shorter plea bargain instead. Upon completion of his sentence he wore a GPS monitoring device for a further three years. And the current case involves a 17-year-old--not the under-age girls that the psychiatrist was worried about.

For Tracy to invoke those other two cases into his coverage of Gardner is simply inflammatory.


LIGHTEN UP! All of the newscasts covered the take-your-child-to-work air traffic controler whose son was caught on audiotape giving instructions to jetliner pilots on the runway at JFK Airport. All three seemed tone deaf. ABC's Lisa Stark quoted John Nance, her network's in-house aviation analyst, tut-tutting: "It is simply not permissible." CBS' Sharyl Attkisson worried that the boy's words were inaudible. Instead of smiling about the harmless safety violation in a breezy, whimsical closer, all three newscasts treated the boy's excellent adventure with furrowed brows, assigning the stunt to their hard-news lead segments. At least NBC's Tom Costello captured the right tone in a jocular soundbite from a 20-year veteran pilot: "Nothing happened to the planes that took off. I do not see a problem with that at all." NBC's Costello, by the way, did the right thing, crediting LiveATC.net with discovering the young boy's voice.