CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 14, 2010
None of the network nightly newscasts led with Michelle Obama's trip to Mexico City, her first solo overseas trip in an official capacity. Yet because it was the only story deemed newsworthy enough to be covered by a correspondent from all three networks, the First Lady qualified as Story of the Day. ABC led with a Richter 6.9 earthquake on the Tibetan plateau in China's Qinghai Province. NBC led with signs of an improving economy. CBS chose its own in-house newsmaking as its lead: the poll with The New York Times on the 18% of the population that supports the Tea Party.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR APRIL 14, 2010: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailCBSFirst Lady Michelle Obama visits MexicoFirst official foreign trip focuses on youthBill WhitakerMexico City
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingUS troops retreat from Korengal Valley basesRichard EngelAfghanistan
video thumbnailCBSNASA manned space flights may be discontinuedFamous Apollo-era astronauts debate pros, consJeff GlorNew York
video thumbnailABCFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutWill new rules prevent or create new bailouts?Jake TapperNew York
video thumbnailCBSFederal porkbarrel spending on earmarked projectsAnnual appropriations down from $20bn to $16bnNancy CordesCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCPolitical activism by conservative populist Tea PartyRally on Boston Common addressed by Sarah PalinRehema EllisBoston
video thumbnailCBSPolitical activism by conservative populist Tea PartyDemographics, ideology studied by CBS News pollDean ReynoldsBoston
video thumbnailNBCEconomy may be in recovery from recessionSome signs of consumer, banking, hiring reboundMike TaibbiNew York
video thumbnailABCMilitary base religious persecution allegedFort Hood soldiers describe anti-Islamic slursDiane SawyerNew York
video thumbnailABCTibetan plateau earthquake: Richter 6.9Remote mountainous terrain in Qinghai ProvinceClarissa WardBeijing
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
FLOTUS TAKES DISTRITO FEDERAL None of the network nightly newscasts led with Michelle Obama's trip to Mexico City, her first solo overseas trip in an official capacity. Yet because it was the only story deemed newsworthy enough to be covered by a correspondent from all three networks, the First Lady qualified as Story of the Day. ABC led with a Richter 6.9 earthquake on the Tibetan plateau in China's Qinghai Province. NBC led with signs of an improving economy. CBS chose its own in-house newsmaking as its lead: the poll with The New York Times on the 18% of the population that supports the Tea Party.

ABC and NBC both assigned their female White House correspondents to travel with Mrs Obama to Mexico, Yunji de Nies and Savannah Guthrie respectively. They tended to treat the trip as a human interest event, with de Nies asking about the husband left home supervising the First Daughters' homework and Guthrie inquiring why she sought to avoid Rodham-Clinton-style controversy. CBS assigned Bill Whitaker to the task.

Whitaker has covered Mexican narcoviolence regularly over the last 18 months, so he chose a hard news angle on Mrs Obama's visit. Whitaker asked whether she endorsed President Felipe Calderon's military crackdown on the trafficantes in fighting which has killed 23K over the last three years. "Do you think it is winnable?" Whitaker asked. Replied the First Lady: "Is the choice to give up?"

That is 23K dead in three years.


KORENGAL CAPITULATES The United States military has thrown in the towel on its attempt to defend the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. NBC's Richard Engel won plaudits for his Tip of the Spear series in the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2009 on the army's futile attempt to repel Taliban guerrillas in that so-called "Valley of Death." Now after 42 American deaths and more than four years of combat, Engel was on hand for the retreat. He saw soldiers pack up--"taking away 500K lbs of satellite equipment and cases of unused ammunition"--and use 10K lbs of high explosives to destroy the materiel that was too heavy to move. The pullout made for dynamite video, so to speak, as the army wiped out the base it had fought so hard to preserve. "Now there is just a field of debris, some of it still smoldering and hot." The guerrillas were expected to take over within 15 minutes of the pullout.


HOUSTON, WE USED TO HAVE PROBLEMS The next retreat for the United States will be from the Final Frontier. CBS' Jeff Glor and NBC's Tom Costello (no link) both previewed the President's speech at the Kennedy Space Center at which he is expected to end NASA's mission to send humans into space. This was Costello's second day on the space story. On Tuesday, NBC News' space program veteran Jay Barbree claimed an exclusive for a first look at the open letter from Neil Armstrong and two other lunar astronauts in which they warned that the US would be "far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity" if NASA stopped putting people into space. Costello covered the Barbree scoop.

Now Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin finds himself "pitted against his peers," according to CBS' Glor, supporting Barack Obama's plan to leave human space transport to Russia's Soyuz, at least for the next five years. With thousands of space jobs likely to be lost in Florida, NBC's Costello expected the President to get "a rather chilly reception," when he announces his vision for NASA.


TAPPER TAGS LUNTZ--KARL REFEREES ABC skipped NASA and chose another item on the President's agenda, assigning White House correspondent Jake Tapper and Capitol Hill correspondent Jonathan Karl to cover the debate over new regulations for high finance. Karl landed ABC's new In One Minute feature (Pierre Thomas was asked to run down uranium and plutonium security In One Minute on Monday), rushing through the bill's proposals on bank bankruptcies, government bailouts, consumer finance and derivatives trading.

ABC's Tapper pointed out that Republicans are replying to Barack Obama's argument that the bill would prevent the government from having to bail out too-big-to-fail banks with the following argument: "It is a bill that actually guarantees future bailouts of Wall Street banks." Tapper accounted for such diametrically opposite readings by quoting "message guru" Frank Luntz as the origin for the GOP's talking point. "The single best way to kill this legislation is to link it to the big bank bailout."

So is Luntz correct in his criticism of the bill? Or is he cynically deceptive? That is where Karl's single minute came in: the bill "creates a $50bn fund financed by the banks themselves" to bail out bankruptcies. "So why are Republicans saying the bill opens the door to more bailouts?" Karl inquired. "Because $50bn might not be enough to cover the costs of taking over a failed bank and taxpayers would be on the hook for anything over $50bn."


PORK SARCASM SUBSTITUTES FOR FISCAL FACTS Porkbarrel spending is a CBS specialty. Over the last three years CBS, led mostly by Sharyl Attkisson, has filed more reports on boondoggles and earmarks than NBC and ABC combined. So it was no surprise that CBS snapped up the annual Pig Book from the Citizens Against Government Waste. Nancy Cordes sarcastically cited agribusiness subsidies to help potato farmers and catfish breeders, tut-tutting about a "whopping" 9,100 projects and a $1.5tr federal deficit. Unfortunately the connection between that deficit and those barrels of pork rests on innuendo not arithmetic. Earmark spending has declined from $20bn to $16bn in the last year and now accounts for a minuscule 1% of government borrowing.


TOWARDS A SOCIALIST FUTURE NBC offered free publicity to the Tea Party Express, assigning Rehema Ellis to narrate greatest-hit soundbites from Sarah Palin's speech at the Express' rally on Boston Common. "We'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion--and you can keep the change," was how Palin teased Barack Obama. Dean Reynolds was also on Boston Common for CBS. He used the news hook of Palin's speech to draw a statistical profile of Tea Party supporters, according to his own network's in-house opinion poll. Who are the Tea Party? They are mostly male (59%), almost all white (89%), largely self-styled conservatives (73%), and hardly affected (6%) by unemployment. An enormous majority (92%) see a socialist future for the United States under the leadership of President Obama. Where do they get coverage of politics? Almost two thirds (63%) go to FOX News Channel.


FORECLOSING ON A RECOVERY Away from politics, both NBC's Mike Taibbi and CBS' Anthony Mason checked in on the real economy. Both found signs of recovery from recession: both pointed to increased spending by consumers and higher profits for corporations; Taibbi cited higher prices on the stock market and signs of a return to hiring. Mason cautioned that residential real estate has not yet rebounded: "Foreclosures are expected to hit an all time high in a key report out tomorrow." Foreclosures had been the very problem that David Muir focused on in his Fight for the Middle Class feature for ABC Tuesday: "So far, of the more than one million homeowners who have signed up for help through the President's plan, only 170K have had their mortgages permanently lowered."


THE LEADEN WIT OF BIGOTED SOLDIERS With a hat tip to Washington Post, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer told us of the troubles of Zachari Klawonn, an army specialist at Fort Hood. Klawonn's commanders have told him to leave barracks and to move to an apartment off base after the shootings in November 2009, in which Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist stands accused of killing 13 of his comrades. The reason is that Klawonn, a Moroccan-American, is a practicing Moslem, like Hasan, and the base could not guarantee his safety against persecution after he received a "burn in hell" death threat. Klawoon repeated some of the unimaginative insults from his fellow soldiers: carpet jockey…Iraq head…sand monkey…Zachari bin Laden.


SICHUAN REMINISCENCES The earthquake on the 13,000-foot Tibetan plateau in remote southwestern China was, obviously, so far away from any network correspondent that all they could do was narrate videotape from remote locations. CBS gave the task to Lucy Craft in Tokyo; ABC to Clarissa Ward in Beijing; NBC had Brian Williams handle the chores from the anchor desk. Bereft of facts from Qinghai Province, both Craft and Ward resorted to analogies. Ward found "stories reminiscent of China's 2008 earthquake, which killed more than 80K people, including thousands of children in poorly constructed schools." Craft found the scene "chillingly reminiscent of the horrific earthquake of 2008, when 87K in Sichuan, a neighboring province, which sits on the same fault line."