CONTAINING LINKS TO 55600 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 22, 2010
Fierce weather was the Story of the Day for the third day in a row. On Monday, the snowstorms that paralyzed airline travel in western Europe grabbed headlines. Tuesday was topped by the so-called Pineapple Express, the rainstorm that drenched the Pacific coastline. Those storms were Story of the Day once more as both ABC and CBS led with a state of emergency in six coastal California counties. ABC used a substitute anchor, George Stephanopoulos. At the White House, President Barack Obama held a press conference to mark the adjournment of the historic 111th Congress. NBC led with his praise for its legislation in its final lame duck session.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 22, 2010: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCStorms, heavy rains, mudslides on Pacific coastMudslides in mountain canyons, homes evacuatedMiguel AlmaguerCalifornia
video thumbnailCBSStorms, heavy rains, mudslides on Pacific coastEmergency in six coastal California countiesBill WhitakerCalifornia
video thumbnailNBC111th Congress convenes in lame duck sessionPresident Obama press conference praises actionSavannah GuthrieNew York
video thumbnailABCMilitary gays: don't-ask-don't-tell policyPresident Obama hails repeal at signing ceremonyJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailCBSMilitary gays: don't-ask-don't-tell policyPentagon will not rush implementation of repealDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSDomestic terrorism preparedness and preventionFBI stings foil several alleged homegrown plotsKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailABCPrescription drug shortages, stockpiles depletedFDA cannot order production, needs warningRichard BesserNew York
video thumbnailNBCPlacebo effect of medication is stronger than thoughtPills are effective even when placebo is knownRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailABCCatholic nun fired as Phoenix hospital administratorChurch severs ties after lifesaving abortionDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailCBSChristmas holiday seasonCharity toy dolls drive inspired by miscarriageBarry PetersenDenver
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
STORM-TOSSED PACIFIC COAST Fierce weather was the Story of the Day for the third day in a row. On Monday, the snowstorms that paralyzed airline travel in western Europe grabbed headlines. Tuesday was topped by the so-called Pineapple Express, the rainstorm that drenched the Pacific coastline. Those storms were Story of the Day once more as both ABC and CBS led with a state of emergency in six coastal California counties. ABC used a substitute anchor, George Stephanopoulos. At the White House, President Barack Obama held a press conference to mark the adjournment of the historic 111th Congress. NBC led with his praise for its legislation in its final lame duck session.

There were two major angles to the Pacific storms: the flash floods in coastal communities were covered by ABC's David Wright and CBS' Bill Whitaker; the threat of mudslides through the steep canyons of suburban foothills was covered by NBC's Miguel Almaguer and ABC's Mike von Fremd. NBC anchor Brian Williams pursued that angle with a follow-up interview with Tammy Smith, the cheerfully phlegmatic resident of La Canada, where the mudslide threat was at its most extreme.


LAME DUCK LEAVES, HEAD HELD HIGH Both CBS and NBC assigned their White House correspondents--Bill Plante and Savannah Guthrie respectively--to Barack Obama's assessment of the Lame Duck 111th. NBC concentrated on the political optics of the legislation since the Democratic Party suffered its shellacking in November's midterm elections: Congressional correspondent Kelly O'Donnell summarized the lame duck agenda; and Meet the Press anchor David Gregory gave the President a thumbs up for his newly refound leadership skills.

As for the specifics of the legislation, two major new bills passed. ABC's Jonathan Karl covered the scaled-down healthcare funding for World Trade Center workers sickened by toxic fumes from the debris of the twin towers: the plan had been for a $7bn fund; the compromise called for $4bn. CBS' David Martin and ABC's Jake Tapper both covered the repeal of the Pentagon's 17-year-old Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell restrictions on gays in the military. Tapper revealed the faces of some of the closeted gays who had campaigned for repeal in the Kaycee Olsen Gallery's photographic exhibition by Jeff Sheng, which his colleague Bob Woodruff covered last May. Martin previewed the personnel policy changes the Pentagon will make to implement the repeal.


COURIC’S FOCUS LOSES FOCUS Generally speaking, CBS' In Focus series has been a success. In In Focus, anchor Katie Couric consults the expertise of her network's correspondents, analysts and producers to survey the public policy options surrounding a particular thorny topic. Here she surveys the feasibility of ending the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Here she traces how tax cuts have been a partisan political wedge issue since the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Here she predicts a perpetually mushrooming National Debt. Here she describes the dysfunctional state that is North Korea

Couric's latest In Focus entry had no such scope. She chose the same topic that inspired ABC anchor Diane Sawyer to travel to Washington on Monday: the potential for a successful terrorist attack by al-Qaeda-inspired militants inside the United States. Couric explained that the reason to worry was that "more and more the seeds of terror are being planted right here." Yet her evidence was thin: in the nine years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, just 58 citizens or legal residents have been "implicated" in domestic terrorist plots; every single one of the eleven alleged attacks that have been uncovered this year has failed. The Christmas tree in Portland Ore was not blown up; the carbomb in Times Square was incompetently built. The one lethal attack In Focus mentioned was the Fort Hood shooting, in which an army psychiatrist is accused of killing his comrades in arms.

CBS' Bob Orr labeled the Fort Hood crime "terrorist"--which stretches the definition almost to breaking point. In common parlance terrorism refers to violent attacks on civilian targets to achieve political ends. Attacks on the military are commonly not included. Soldiers are trained to be on the lookout for unexpected violence and armed to defend themselves. There is no reason to confuse worry about terrorism with the task of making military bases secure.


ELSEWHERE IN WEDNESDAY’S NEWSCASTS… A pair of divergent stories on prescription drugs: ABC's in-house physician Richard Besser warned that the FDA has no power to compel the pharamaceutical industry to ramp up production when there are shortages of life-saving medication yet "the market system just is not working in this case"…NBC's Robert Bazell told us about new research on the placebo effect, the effect that makes medicine efficacious even if it has no active ingredient; now it appears the placebo helps patients even when they are told that the pill is useless.

A pair of peculiar stories inspired by pro-lifers: ABC's Dan Harris covered Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, who decided to excommunicate Saint Joseph's Hospital (Harris covered the defrocking of the administrator nun in June) because its doctors saved the life of a pregnant woman, eleven weeks into her term, by aborting the fetus that was causing terminal heart failure…Barry Petersen filed an American Spirit feature on CBS about a Denver toy drive run by a woman who miscarried a six-month pregnancy three years ago. Jessica Bachus gives Dolls for Daughters on behalf of the stillborn girl she calls "my angel Kenzi."