CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 27, 2010
Sen Carl Levin mined soundbite gold from a hoard of internal e-mails from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank. The senator called the so-called Masters of the Universe before his investigative sub-committee to ask why they were selling worthless packages of securities, based on soon-to-foreclose home mortgages, as the financial bubble in real estate was about to burst. How did Levin manage to turn the normally arcane world of derivatives trading into the unanimous choice for Story of the Day, the lead item on all three newscasts? He latched onto a salesman's own evaluation: "Boy, that Timberwolf was one shitty deal!"    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR APRIL 27, 2010: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
click to playstoryanglereporterdateline
video thumbnailNBCInvestment bank Goldman Sachs faces SEC fraud rapExecutives castigated at Senate hearingsLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSFinancial industry regulation, reform, bailoutLegislation would have impact on non-banksNancy CordesCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSEconomy may be in recovery from recessionPresident Obama touts benefits of stimulus planChip ReidIowa
video thumbnailABCAutomobile industry in financial troubleFord Motors revives, takes share from ToyotaChris BuryChicago
video thumbnailNBCRetailer Wal-Mart accused of workforce abusesClass action suit over gender bias goes aheadMichelle KosinskiMiami
video thumbnailNBCIllegal immigration increases, sparks backlashArizona stop-and-search law provokes boycottAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSClinics provide healthcare for urban, rural poorFree care week at sports arena attracts crowdsBill WhitakerLos Angeles
video thumbnailABCPrescription drug Seroquel marketing abusesAstraZeneca fined for promoting off-label usePierre ThomasWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSRussia military expansion: Black Sea naval baseLease sparks egg fight in Ukraine parliamentMark PhillipsLondon
video thumbnailABCSurrogate mothers get pregnant for infertile couplesClinic in Hyderabad offers $45K wombs for rentClarissa WardIndia
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
EXPLETIVE DELETED TWELVE TIMES ON THREE NEWSCASTS Sen Carl Levin mined soundbite gold from a hoard of internal e-mails from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank. The senator called the so-called Masters of the Universe before his investigative sub-committee to ask why they were selling worthless packages of securities, based on soon-to-foreclose home mortgages, as the financial bubble in real estate was about to burst. How did Levin manage to turn the normally arcane world of derivatives trading into the unanimous choice for Story of the Day, the lead item on all three newscasts? He latched onto a salesman's own evaluation: "Boy, that Timberwolf was one shitty deal!"

Of course the broadcast networks, using the FCC-regulated public airwaves, could not air Levin's soundbites unexpurgated. The deal was "bleeping" instead as far as the news was concerned. On the three newscasts combined, we heard that "shitty" being bleeped a total of twelve times.

Levin was not alone. "This went well beyond a public flogging," NBC's Lisa Myers exaggerated. "For eight hours, seven current and former Goldman executives were pilloried by members of both parties." ABC's Jonathan Karl noted that "these senators, the ones I have spoken to, are clearly frustrated. They have come with questions and they do not think they have gotten straight answers." CBS' Anthony Mason called it an "all-day grilling." And CNBC's David Faber observed in a paraphrase to NBC anchor Brian Williams that the Wall Street bankers generally seemed unwilling to admit: "Well, yes, we were part of something that ultimately went off the tracks."

There was not much balance in the reporting in favor of Goldman Sachs. NBC's Myers conceded that the witnesses had been "heavily prepped by their lawyers," which accounted for some cautious answers. CBS' Mason made note of Goldman's insisting that its $500m profits in 2007 from trading in mortgage-backed securities resulted from a smaller than "massive" bet against the housing market.

"While Goldman was taking a beating today, experts note that Congress also played an important role in the financial meltdown," NBC's Myers concluded, without identifying the "experts" she had consulted. Congress "repealed financial safeguards enacted after the Great Depression and it neglected to regulate some of the highly leveraged deals that brought the economy to the brink of collapse." The post-hearing analysis by ABC's Karl was that financial regulation is now more likely to pass. CBS' Mason pointed out that while Goldman Sachs insists it "did not cross a line here…the larger point still may be that that line needs to be moved."

As for that financial legislation, CBS' Nancy Cordes reported that opposition to its consumer protection provisions is being heard from counterintuitive sources like beer distributors, candymakers, clothing manufacturers, automobile dealerships and dentists--"any business that allows customers to pay in installments could come in for more regulation."


TOUTING A TURNAROUND Stepping away from high finance to the economy at large, Chip Reid of CBS was the only White House correspondent to file from Barack Obama's road trip to Iowa. Reid heard the President "brag about creating jobs" with the federal stimulus package, even though the local unemployment rate still stands at 9.5%. ABC's Chris Bury noted that Ford Motors is posting renewed profits even as Toyota's sales decline. "Ford went back to the drawing board, designing sturdier, safer cars. It added more testing to each step of the assembly line and marketed the changes relentlessly," Bury stated, in a package that must have sounded sweet to the public relations department at Dearborn.


THE HALF MILLION DOLLAR GLASS CEILING A day later than Dan Harris at ABC, NBC's Michelle Kosinski caught up with the class action lawsuit by women workers alleging gender bias against Walmart. Kosinski noted that 60% of Walmart's 1.4m-strong workforce is female and that "hundreds of thousands" could eventually sign up for the class action. Kosinski quoted an estimate from the Institute for Women's Policy Research that compared an average man and an average woman--not just at Walmart but across all occupations--over a four-decade career of full-time work: that woman is underpaid (or that man is overpaid) by $500,000.


PINTO WHITEWASHES SUPPORTERS, DEMEANS OPPONENTS OF ARIZONA LAW The Arizona law that requires all of us to carry valid residency papers in that state in case a police officer should suspect us of being a foreigner without a visa received yet more scrutiny. CBS' John Blackstone covered the backlash against the law Monday. Now NBC's Andrea Mitchell kicks off with ridicule from Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show and follows up with an anti-tourism advisory from the government of Mexico warning their citizens that they may be "bothered and questioned without much cause at any time." ABC's Barbara Pinto reminded us of a previous boycott of Arizona over its refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a public holiday even as the Phoenix Convention Center braces for a renewed loss of business.

ABC's Pinto concluded: "Still, most Arizona residents, 70%, support this new law. Their fears about crime seem to outweigh any worries about the economy." Let's unpack that conclusion: Pinto implicitly argues that the law is motivated by no other consideration except crimefighting, thereby exonerating its supporters of any taint of racial animus; then she implicitly argues that only economic self-interest could account for opposition to the law, thereby discrediting the arguments of civil libertarians. Pinto's saving get-out is that weasel word "seem" in her formulation.


THAT REMOTE AREA CALLED DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Last August, then-anchor Charles Gibson made Stan Brock ABC's Person of the Week. Brock's charity, Remote Area Medical, was founded to bring modern medicine to Third World populations yet now it was turning its attention to the United States because of its huge population of uninsured patients. Back then, Brock organized a weeklong free clinic in the Los Angeles Forum sports arena. Besides Gibson, Miguel Almaguer covered the walk-in clinic twice for NBC (here and here) and Bill Whitaker filed for CBS. Now RAM has returned with 300 volunteers offering dental care, physical check-ups and eye exams. It expects almost 8,500 patients and CBS' Whitaker returned for a follow-up.


ASTRAZENECA FOLLOWS GANGSTERS Monday, ABC's Pierre Thomas filed an Investigates feature pointing the finger at organized crime gangs--Armenians in California, Nigerians in Texas, Cubans in Florida, Russians in the northeast--for running medical supply rackets to defraud Medicare. Now Thomas names AstraZeneca, the pharmaceuticals manufacturer, for "bilking taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars." Thomas explained that AstraZeneca's scheme involved paying physicians for speaking engagements and sending them on travel junkets as incentives to have them prescribe the schizophrenia medication Seroquel for other, unapproved, mental illnesses such as dementia and depression. "Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the company by patients complaining about side effects from Seroquel ranging from rapid weight gain to the onset of diabetes," Thomas told us. AstraZeneca is paying a $520m fine.


MAKING SAUSAGES WITH EGGS CBS was not really interested in Russia's future naval plans when it assigned Mark Phillips to cover the extension of Moscow's lease at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Ukraine through 2042. The London-based Phillips had the job of narrating videotape of the political uproar in Kiev: "For a while it looked like a hockey game broke out," quipped the Canadian Phillips as he showed us the parliament's speaker cowering under an umbrella: "He was either expecting rain or he knew trouble was coming. When the rain came, it poured eggs."


BABY FACTORY An infertile couple eager for some reproductive tourism can take a $45K trip to Hyderabad and come back with a baby. ABC's Clarissa Ward showed us the operation of the Surrogacy Abroad travel agency. It runs a human incubator ward at the Kiran Hospital in the central Indian city where as many as 15 local women are pregnant at any one time, carrying IVF fetuses for the tourists: "They live in cramped conditions and are only allowed to leave the hospital once or twice a week," Ward told us. Out of the $45K, the surrogate mother ends up with $6K in her pocket.