CONTAINING LINKS TO 55600 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 16, 2010
Only ABC made the correct call and decided to lead its newscast with President Barack Obama's strategy review of the Pentagon's counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan. The review, and accompanying features on Afghanistan, was the Story of the Day with ABC and NBC filing from the White House, and ABC and CBS filing from the Pentagon. The other two newscasts led with a human interest follow-up on Wednesday's Story of the Day: both profiled Mike Jones, the school safety officer who wounded a suicidal gunman at a Florida school board meeting.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 16, 2010: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingWhite House releases strategic progress reviewSavannah GuthrieWhite House
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingMost civilians are unaware of military sacrificeJohn DonvanWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingIED bomb disposal is adrenaline-charged workTerry McCarthyAfghanistan
video thumbnailNBCState Department secret diplomatic cables leakedWikiLeaks leader released on bail, house arrestPeter AlexanderLondon
video thumbnailABCAirline travel: anti-terrorism security precautionsTSA terminal screeners fail vigilance testsBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSFederal porkbarrel spending on earmarked projectsSenate Majority Leader Reid defends line itemsSharyl AttkissonWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSFlorida school board threatened by suicidal gunmanSecurity guard wounded shooter; no one else hurtMark StrassmannFlorida
video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday season gets under wayViewers volunteer to answer Letters to SantaDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailABCBaseball star pitcher Robert Feller dies, aged 92ObituaryJohn BermanNew York
video thumbnailNBCAfrican elephant herd conservation effortsSanctuary raises orphans left by poachersMaria MenounosKenya
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
COUNTERINSURGENCY IS MAKING PROGRESS IN AFGHANISTAN (SORT OF) Only ABC made the correct call and decided to lead its newscast with President Barack Obama's strategy review of the Pentagon's counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan. The review, and accompanying features on Afghanistan, was the Story of the Day with ABC and NBC filing from the White House, and ABC and CBS filing from the Pentagon. The other two newscasts led with a human interest follow-up on Wednesday's Story of the Day: both profiled Mike Jones, the school safety officer who wounded a suicidal gunman at a Florida school board meeting.

No surprise, Commander-in-Chief Obama decided that the War in Afghanistan, after nine years, was worth continuing because the 100,000 troops there are making progress. Then came the kicker: the progress is "fragile and reversible," a phrase quoted by ABC's Jake Tapper and NBC's Savannah Guthrie. ABC's Martha Raddatz noted that the Pentagon's counterinsurgency doctrine teaches a three-step process Clear, Hold, Build: "Even in the south, where they cited progress today, those areas they are just clearing; they are not really holding at this point--and they are certainly not building.

Last week, ABC ran a series on Afghanistan with the title Can We Win? These are the three reports (by George Stephanopoulos, Martha Raddatz & Nick Schifrin) in which the question was never answered one way or the other. The White House report was just as evasive.

Let's tick off the problems that NBC's Guthrie accused the report of "largely soft-pedaling": safe havens for guerrillas in Pakistan (cited by CBS' David Martin, ABC's Tapper & NBC's Guthrie); lack of domestic support for the war (Tapper & Guthrie); Hamid Karzai's corrupt government (Martin & Guthrie); the high desertion rate in the Afghan army (Martin). ABC's Tapper introduced his colleague Schifrin: "In Kandahar City, the focus of so much US attention, the Taliban are still able to assassinate government employees and that means Afghans there are so scared, two-thirds of all government jobs are unfilled."

ABC's John Donvan followed up on the 1,400 US military dead in the past nine years of fighting shipped home in flag-draped coffins: most of the time "they come in unseen, with the rest of the cargo." CBS had Terry McCarthy file from Safar Bazaar in Afghanistan for his series Following the Thundering Third. He followed up on August's excellent Hurt Locker features (here and here) on the Marine Corps' bomb disposal efforts. Meet Sgt Matthew Jackson and his molecular tattoos.


OTHER NOTES FROM THURSDAY’S NEWSCASTS… All three newscasts covered Julian Assange's release on bail as he fights extradition from Britain to Sweden. Only NBC assigned a correspondent: Peter Alexander repeated the joke that he is now under "mansion arrest." Assange told him that the pace of WikiLeaks.org's release of the State Department's 250,000 leaked documents will now accelerate.

In his Investigates feature on ABC, Brian Ross brought us Farid Seif, a Houston businessman, who checked his loaded handgun onto a Continental Airlines flight in his hand luggage without airport terminal security screeners noticing. The woman who followed Seif in line was stopped for having liquids in her bag.

Earmarks attached to federal spending bills certainly infuriate CBS' Sharyl Attkisson. Wednesday she dripped with sarcasm as she ticked off a beat poem of line items: legumes, maples, fruit, peanuts…beavers, blackbirds… potato pests and noxious weeds…oyster safety…virus free wine grapes…cranberry and blueberry. Now she names the 28 hypocritical senators who voted to ban all earmark spending yet nevertheless inserted their own pet porkbarrel projects into the latest $8bn package. When Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the legislature's prerogatives, arguing that the executive branch should not have sole discretion over spending decisions, Attkisson exploded with incredulity: "Waste & Excess!" she fumed.

ABC anchor Diane Sawyer hailed Mike Jones as "one of the unsung heroes of that school board shooting" in Florida. Hardly. The school safety officer's verbatim press conference was the lead item on NBC, with its In His Own Words feature. Jones took both CBS' Mark Strassmann and ABC's Ryan Owens, separately, into the meeting room where he reenacted his wounding of Clay Duke, the protesting gunman who ended up killing himself. CBS anchor Katie Couric followed up with a three-minute q-&-a with the tearful Jones. ABC's Owens reminded us that Jones had already had his 15 minutes of fame back in 1995 when Oprah Winfrey honored his Salvage Santa program. If that is "unsung" what would heralding someone consist of?

Speaking of Santa, Wednesday's profile of the post office's North Pole mailroom by ABC's David Muir and NBC's Mike Taibbi had the desired effect. Muir flattered ABC's viewers for their generosity in a follow up on the Christmas presents for poverty-stricken children being donated in response to the sample of letters that ABC News posted online. He profiled "just three of the elves we met today."

NBC's Pete Williams filed babyboomer footage of Duck-&-Cover for his update on nuclear warfare civil defense…and CBS' Richard Schlesinger included vintage Charles Kuralt in his 50th anniversary memories of a midair plane crash over Brooklyn…but ABC's John Berman had the best archives in his obituary for Bob Feller, Rapid Robert, the Van Meter Heater: check out the motor cycle speed duel.

The day's best soundbite comes from Dame Daphne Sheldrick from her sanctuary in Kenya. "None of the zoos could help us. You know, they have never had been able to raise an infant elephant themselves," she told NBC's Maria Menounos with marbles in her mouth. True, Menounos mugged for the camera too much in her Making a Difference feature. Yet Dame Daphne saved the day.