The stories in tonight's broadcast may pertain in equal measure to events that have yet to take place... and events we're covering in past tense.
Its been an interesting day to watch the cable nets: dividing their time between the dam in Taunton, Mass. that won't break... and the tunnel in Baltimore that was closed for a time. Of those two stories, the latter creates an opening for us: a chance to trot out the now well-worn phrase "the new normal" and talk about how local authorities, with concurrence from the Feds or not, may now shut down, seal off, fortify or blow up pretty much anything they deem a threat. Tunnels, subways, backpacks... you name it... this is the stuff of our times, and if you were waiting for an express delivery or even a pair of grandparents to arrive today along the I-95 corridor, blame the folks who, acting on a tip (said to be a foreign caller) closed BOTH bridges beneath Baltimore harbor. It will be the focus of a piece high in our broadcast tonight, with or without concurrence from the Feds.
Also on our docket tonight: a primer/preview of what to expect from Mr. Fitzgerald as the expiration of the Grand Jury in Washington approaches. As I said in a speech to a group of executives last night: I've yet to meet a single American who understands every aspect of the Valerie Plame story. Some of it is just not knowable and may NOT be even after it's all over. As was pointed out at our editorial meeting this afternoon, there's nothing to keep large parts of this investigation from remaining a total mystery after it's over.
We'll preview the Saddam trial, which begins tomorrow. Expect a posting soon from Richard Engel on the extraordinary security in place to protect the courtroom environment. We'll look at exactly what they plan to try the former dictator on, including some tape that we've acquired, a North American exclusive, according to our Senior Producer for foreign coverage, M.L. Flynn.
Watching a handwriting analyst examine the signature of Harriett Miers on MSNBC as I write this reminds me: I was told recently that a prominent figure in Hollywood screened a copy of the film Network for a group of students, and was amazed at the LACK of reaction from the group. It seems too much of Chayefsky's once outlandish screenplay (and this is spoken, full disclosure, as a seven-year-veteran of cable) has slowly morphed into the realm of everyday stuff, from shouting anchors to Sybil The Soothsayer-like segments. Trust me: it was really satirical once.
Also on the broadcast tonight: our health segment on the dangers of weight-reduction surgery for the obese, and a look at another of the continuing after-effects of Katrina: the Vietnamese segment of the shrimping industry in the Gulf.
Briefly, on our recommended reading list: the piece by Melvin Laird in Foreign Affairs and the piece on Doris Kearns Goodwin in the current issue of Atlantic Monthly.
As always, our broadcast is recommended viewing, and we hope you'll join us tonight.