Throughout the working world, and including the warren of offices on our floor here at 30 Rock, this is the afternoon where co-workers exit their offices a little earlier than normal, with coat on and bag in hand, looking both ways for the prying eyes of judgemental co-workers... and then smartly head for the elevators to get an early start on the Thanksgiving holiday. As much as I'd like to join the exodus out of the City, the network insists on doing Nightly News live at 6:30 Eastern time each night of the year (with subsequent feeds to update in the event of breaking news, of course) and so work we must... for our loyal viewers.
Many of those loyal viewers tune in this night before Thanksgiving expecting to see America tied up in knots: on the roads, rails and in the skies. Since we value the truth around here...here it goes: the expected gridlock isn't happening. At least not yet, and at least not in the expected numbers and volume. And so, as we often say in newsrooms: maybe the fact that it's NOT a story IS the story. We'll cover what's out there. We'll also check in on our friends in the Gulf storm zone. I suspect that when many families sit down tomorrow night, those who DO take the time to count their blessings, whether audibly or privately, will have these Americans in mind. We have one story of outrage and red tape (hopefully with a happy ending) and another that will tell the story of giving thanks... among those who lost so much.
Tom Costello will look into holiday air travel... call it the "new normal"... how have safety standards changed if at all? Have you had your nail clipper seized lately and placed, with great ceremony, in the scrap metal drawer at the airport? Has a knitter in your family been made to feel vaguely dangerous for wanting to travel with knitting needles? Does it all seem to depend on your choice of lines, times, screeners and airports? We'll look into it.
Also tonight, we'll look at the Catholic Church policy toward gay men in the ranks, and we'll check in on an old friend whom we first met through Campbell Brown at the height of the depths of human behavior in New Orleans. For those of you who remember our young friend Charles Evans fondly, he's doing OK.
A quick note about last night: as Megan Marcus blogged below, our industry gathered here in New York for the CPJ dinner. The Committee to Protect Journalists does just that. On the battlefield, in court and in prisons around the world. It's important work, and none of us ever know when we may have to call upon them. It's great to know that they'll be there on short notice... thanks to events like last night. The emotional high point of the evening came when Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather went to the podium to pay tribute to the missing member of that triumverate, Peter Jennings. Peter's legacy will always be the reporting we do beyond our shores. Journalists have paid a heavy price this past year for simply doing their jobs.
Other notes: to increase our weekend presence in this space, look for reports from the Senior Broadcast Producer of Weekend Nightly News, Bob Epstein. Bob's a great journalist, a great producer and a veteran of this shop, MSNBC and CBS News. He took his place in the blogging pantheon last weekend and will do so again in weekends to come. We received some excellent posts (48 comments!) in response to the fracas on the House floor last week. Keep the feedback coming. We're also looking into the feasability of a weekend edition of our NBC Nightly News Netcast, in response to popular demand.
Of special note in today's New York Times: the homage to the inventor of Stove Top Stuffing, and in light of the expected rough weather for tomorrow's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the piece on the training (or more to the point, the lack of it) for the handlers of Rocky, Bullwinkle and the other balloons that will grace the streets of this city tomorrow. Then there's today's Washington Post: the can't-we-all-get-along piece by Dana Milbank, and the ultimate inside-the-Beltway column by Al Kamen contains some interesting FEMA nuggets.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, we hope you'll join us for tonight's broadcast.