Your feedback to senior broadcast producer Bob Epstein's first weekend post a week ago made it more evident than ever that the news does not stop on weekends. And we have heard you: you want us to expand our Nightly Netcast, now posted on the Internet at 10 p.m. ET each weekday night, to Saturday and Sunday. Rest assured, we are working on it and hope to have a weekend Nightly News Netcast up and running soon. As for this weekend, Bob is taking a well deserved few days off. So, John Seigenthaler will have to bear with fellow senior producer Pat Burkey and me as we attempt to fill his shoes.
Once again, we are watching news at this early hour out of Iraq and it is not good. Two suicide bombings and more than a dozen Iraqis dead. Jim Maceda has just spent Thanksgiving in Iraq and will have the latest on this, and more from his visit earlier in the week with members of the 3rd Infantry Division, now approaching the end of their second tour of duty. (For those of you who missed last night's broadcast, Jim ably pulled together this chilling video of militants rehearsing for their devastating attack a few weeks ago outside the Palestine and Sheraton hotels. It's worth a look.)
Two years ago, we were just as surprised as the rest of the country following President Bush's super top secret trip to Iraq for a quick Thanksgiving meal with the troops. One year ago this weekend, the President was really on a roll, having just been reelected, promising to spend his "political capital" on Social Security and other domestic initiatives. This year -- as far as we know -- Mr Bush is on his ranch in Crawford, having gone through a tough few months. And -- as far as we know -- our own Rosiland Jordan is in Crawford too, and will take a look at the President's standing a year ago compared to now, and what his administration needs to do to get back on track.
Last weekend, we previewed this holiday shopping season. Tonight, Dawn Fratangelo will give us an update on how it's going so far, and preview what has become known as "Black Monday" or "Cyber Monday." That's the Monday after Thanksgiving, when more and more retailers are noticing a huge spike in online sales, making it one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.
On Wednesday in this space, Brian recounted how we were all sitting in our afternoon editorial meeting, looking at a slate of executive producer John Reiss's brand new, sleek flat panel TVs mounted on his wall, wondering where all the traffic was on what was supposed to be the busiest travel day of the year. It turns out that busiest day is now the Sunday after Thanksgiving, according to some experts. We'll be sure to bring you the latest on the return trip home by air and by car. One added note, we are always eager to jump on gas price stories when they are on the rise. Well, gas prices have come down in the past month -- to under $2 a gallon in some places. We will include that piece of somewhat encouraging news too.
In New Orleans, it'll be an especially "Long Road Back" for that city's historic streetcars because of damage caused by Katrina. As bad as the situation is, Martin Savidge will report how -- for some of the streetcars that date back to the 1920s, at least --it could have been a lot worse.
And you can also look for a profile of Chicago-based photographer Richard Mack. Over the course of two years Mack retraced Lewis and Clark's journey to the Pacific Northwest, taking spectacular pictures for a book along the way. (www.quietlightpublishing.com) As producer Christiana Arvetis told me, Mack battled insects and blizzards as he retraced their steps. He also battled something Lewis and Clark did not need to worry about 200 years ago: industrialization.
We should be seen across the country both Saturday and Sunday. We hope you'll join us.