The National Security Agency was Story of the Day for the second straight day, the lead item on NBC and CBS for the second straight day. Yet again, ABC buried NSA as the lead, choosing stormchaser Ginger Zee and Tropical Storm Andrea instead. That makes seven weekdays out of the last ten that ABC has decided to kick off its newscast with Mother Nature. Also for the second straight day, NBC had Ann Curry sit in as substitute anchor.    
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video thumbnailNBCNational Security Agency eavesdrops on citizensPresident Obama defends limited surveillancePete WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailABCNational Security Agency eavesdrops on citizensInternet monitoring taps corporate databanksBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailCBSNational Security Agency eavesdrops on citizensSecrets were leaked to columnist Glenn GreenwaldNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCNational Security Agency eavesdrops on citizensVox pop weighs demands for privacy and securityJohn YangChicago
video thumbnailNBCPRC-US diplomacy: President Xi Jinping summitTalks to be held on lavish Annenberg EstateAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSPRC-US diplomacy: President Xi Jinping summitCyber-espionage, hacking will top talks agendaSeth DoaneBeijing
video thumbnailNBCSanta Monica College campus shooting spreeStarts with house fire, then community collegeMark PotterCalifornia
video thumbnailABCNeighborhood watch confrontation kills Fla teenagerCellphone voice recognition may be evidenceMatt GutmanNo Dateline
video thumbnailABCTropical Storm Andrea makes Florida landfallTrail of rains, delays along Atlantic seaboardGinger ZeeVirginia
video thumbnailNBCHorse racing Triple Crown championshipJockey Gary Stevens comeback at Belmont StakesBrian ShactmanLong Island
BIG BROTHER WATCHES FOREIGNERS THROUGH A PRISM The National Security Agency was Story of the Day for the second straight day, the lead item on NBC and CBS for the second straight day. Yet again, ABC buried NSA as the lead, choosing stormchaser Ginger Zee and Tropical Storm Andrea instead. That makes seven weekdays out of the last ten that ABC has decided to kick off its newscast with Mother Nature. Also for the second straight day, NBC had Ann Curry sit in as substitute anchor.

Thursday's lead, with a hat tip to The Guardian and columnist Glenn Greenwald, was the confirmation, via a leaked search warrant, that the NSA has been compiling a database of logs of every single telephone call made across every domestic network for the past seven years. The next revelation, courtesy of The Guardian again and also Washington Post, is the confirmation, courtesy of a leaked NSA PowerPoint presentation, that its PRISM program monitors global Internet traffic -- including e-mails, chatrooms, videos, and images -- by tapping into corporate Internet servers. NBC's Pete Williams named the companies whose databanks are under scrutiny: Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. CBS' Nancy Cordes filed a profile of Greenwald, complete with satellite-feed soundbites.

CBS' in-house ex-spook John Miller told us on Thursday that PRISM was used to foil a 2009 plot against the New York City subways system by a Queens NY resident names Najibullah Zazi. Now, ABC's Brian Ross and CBS' David Martin also give credit to PRISM for the same plot-foiling success.

NBC's Pete Williams cited the defense of the two NSA programs by President Barack Obama and his aides: "We are not listening to your phone calls or reading your e-mails." On the first claim, Williams explained that the database was analyzing the logs of telephone calls not their content; the NSA was not data-mining, but searching the database after detecting a pattern of calls, which sounds like a distinction without a difference. He quoted a soundbite from MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports: "If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, you need a haystack."

On the Presidential second reassurance, "your" appears to be the operative word: yes, international e-mails may be read; so the "your" refers to you people here in this country, whose domestic Internet traffic is not intentionally read. "The key word here is intentionally," commented CBS' Martin, conceding that it may end up being read, after all, in passing. ABC's Ross disagreed: he stated that the NSA does not read Internet traffic, it analyzes it instead, running an algorithm across content, just as Google does with Gmail.

On Thursday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell and ABC's Brian Ross had both replayed that soundbite in which Director James Clapper was caught in a lie while testifying to Congress. No, Clapper stated while scratching his head, the NSA does not collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans. Significantly, CBS omitted that quote. Now John Miller, CBS' in-house expert, shares that when he was a spy his boss happened to be Clapper himself. "He abhors leaks," declared Miller, envisioning a searing inquisition of FBI grilling, polygraph tests, and grand jury testimony, as a result of The Guardian's scoop. Clapper, it appears, does not abhor lies as much.

So what are we to make of all this? NBC's John Yang surveyed the vox pop on life in a surveillance society. #NSA is trending, he assured us.

FRIDAY’S FINDINGS How summits have fallen from their peak in the Reagan-Gorbachev era! ABC did not even find the looming confab between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping worthy of a mention. CBS' Seth Doane filed a preview from Beijing, where he told us that the Annenberg Estate at Rancho Mirage would be a "casual setting" for the superpower talks. NBC's Andrea Mitchell showed us a photomontage of the luxurious complex to set us straight: it's not casual, it's a fairytale.

There was a shootout on a community college campus in Santa Monica. There was no aspect of this crime story to elevate its status from local significance -- appropriate for coverage by the local stations in Los Angeles -- to a national event, worthy of interest on the network nightly newscasts. The only ingredient of note was that the confrontation was still unresolved at airtime. In other words, this was breaking news. The nightly newscasts fooled themselves into thinking that they belong to the same journalistic genre as 24-hour cable news, and jumped to the scene with NBC's Mark Potter, CBS' Carter Evans, and ABC's John Schriffen. This was not a good use of the limited newshole of a half-hour newscast.

Also covered by all three newscasts was Tropical Storm Andrea. Each took a different angle. On NBC, the Weather Channel's Chris Warren filed a straightforward weekend forecast. On CBS, Elaine Quijano worried about reservoir control and flood prevention around New Jersey's Woodcliff Lake. Andrea brought out the stormchaser in ABC's Ginger Zee, who raced up the Atlantic seaboard in her van from Florida to Virginia, following the winds and flash floods.

A flash flood: that's what Matt Gutman warned motorists about on ABC. Implausibly, he claimed that water as shallow as 18 inches can cause a Sports Utility Vehicle to roll over. To prove it, he had his network's in-house computer animators prepare a Virtual View depiction of just such a disaster. In February, Gutman's colleague Lisa Stark warned us that 400 people drown each year trapped inside submerged vehicles. Stark offered video from Florida's Collier County Sheriff's Department as a teaching aide for us to save ourselves. Now Gutman tells us that 100 of them drown because the vehicle is trapped in a flash flood. Gutman offers the self-same Collier County video.

And Matt Gutman made it a twofer on ABC, presenting Exclusive audio of the contrasting recorded voices of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is about to go on trial in Florida for murdering Martin in that infamous neighborhood watch confrontation. Gutman has been ABC's go-to guy for this story, filing 25 of its 27 reports since the story broke 15 months ago. In the build-up to the trial over the last year, Gutman has filed more reports than all other nightly correspondents put together. As for this latest cellphone audio, Gutman's expert told him it is no big deal: the forensic quality is not good enough to qualify as evidence.

CBS and NBC both closed with a sporting story. NBC's, from Brian Shactman, was brazen cross-promotion, featuring thoroughbred jockey, actor in Seabiscuit and HBO's Luck, onetime NBC Sports analyst, Gary Stevens, riding Oxbow in the Belmont Stakes, whose broadcast rights happen to be owned by NBC. CBS' On the Road paid a tribute to golf and Luke Bielawski, the 24-year-old duffer, who has turned the entire continent into a single hole. Par is 48,000. Steve Hartman crafted a tribute line to golfers everywhere: "…hitting them as they lie, wishing he could lie about how many he hit…"

How many celebrities has ABC chosen as its Person of the Week in the last seven weeks? Actress Rita Moreno meet pop song writer Carole King, moviemaker JJ Abrams, pop singer Cyndi Lauper, and pop singer Neil Diamond. That's a vocal trio plus a director plus a dancer for the music video. ABC's Dan Harris told us that the 81-year-old Moreno has just written her memoir -- but he did not bother to mention the book's title.