A word about Saturday night's broadcast before we talk about Sunday.
A few hours before our broadcast last night, there was news from Washington, D.C. that former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy had died. Within minutes, another alert came across the wires... news from California that comedian Richard Pryor had also died. We quickly began re-arranging our broadcast. I can remember very few times in the past 7 years that we have faced this kind of decision on the weekend, where two very well-known men died on the same afternoon. Both men had a tremendous impact on the country.
It left us with a difficult decision. We planned to begin the broadcast with both deaths... but which one should be the first story. After a vigorous discussion, we led with the death of Richard Pryor followed by Senator McCarthy. While McCarthy was never elected President, his campaign did cause President Lyndon Johnson to withdraw from the race. McCarthy's campaign also helped focus the debate on the Vietnam war.
While Pryor was known for making millions of people laugh, his popular and controversial brand of humor also helped focus the nation's attention on political issues like racism.
The passage of time may have helped us make our decision. McCarthy's moment in history came in 1968. Pryor's impact spanned more than 2 decades.
The discussion about which story should have led the newscast continues in our newsroom this afternoon.
Moving on to Sunday.
For now, Iraq is at the top of our list of stories tonight. With the elections this week, Iraq is bracing for the possibility of more violence as voters head to the polls. NBC's Tom Aspell will bring us the latest from Baghdad. Plus we'll get a preview of President Bush's speech tomorrow in Philadelphia on the Iraq war. As Brian Williams mentioned on Friday's broadcast, he will be traveling with the President tomorrow and will interview Mr. Bush.
We are still waiting for a decision from California Governor Arnold Schwarenegger's office tonight. He is expected to make an announcement soon about whether or not he will spare the life of convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams. NBC's James Hattori will be at San Quentin prison tonight with the latest. And from our New Orleans bureau, the story of how Katrina survivors are preparing for the holidays.
As we discovered yesterday, things can change. We'll see you tonight.