If you consider the list of stories we just finished wading through at our editorial meeting this afternoon, you will get an idea as to the tough choices we're faced with in prioritizing and ordering them on tonight's broadcast: the fueling and preparation of a long-range missile in North Korea, the unprecedented search for two missing GIs in Iraq, the new revelations of a terrorist plot involving the New York City Subway system, flash floods of epic proportions today in Houston, the New Orleans mayor's request for National Guard to help with that city's out-of-control crime rate. That will give you some idea of the challenge ahead between now and airtime... and it's perhaps why our second-in-command Bob Epstein joked that we will "meet again at 5:30." My guess is we'll have discussions of our story order all afternoon, right up to air time. Different people with different viewpoints can (and did) make a case for each story on the list.
We'll also end the broadcast tonight with a story straight out of the headlines: the stresses of the hot weather months on student athletes. Many of us still (even at our advanced ages) have vivid memories of those dreaded high school football "two-a-days" in the August heat -- the twice-daily, full pads football practice sessions that our coaches swore built character... all I remember is being unable to stand up when they were over. And those were the days before Gatorade. The practice of full-bore, hot-weather practice sessions can turn deadly serious, as we've seen countless times. Janet Shamlian will have that report for us... from the afternoon Texas heat.
Speaking of tonight's crowded broadcast docket: I recently received a nasty e-mail from a viewer who angrily took me to task for signing off one night recently by saying "that's our report for this busy Thursday night..." I considered it a pretty innocuous thing to say (as you might, upon reading it) and in fact didn't give it a second thought. I unhooked the various electronics I'm forced to wear during the broadcast, exchanged snappy banter with my studio crew and newsroom colleagues, returned a few e-mails and left to spend the remainder of the evening at home with my family. Little did I know, one of our viewers was spitting mad as he turned off our broadcast and sat down at his computer. His charge was that with American troops on the ground overseas, fighting a war on two fronts, I was complaining about how hard we at NBC News had to work covering the stories of that day. That is, of course, nowhere near what I meant by "busy Thursday," a remark intended to describe the day's busy news agenda... heavy story load... the extraordinarily high number of important events that took place and deserved our attention during that particular day... and the frenetic pace of the broadcast as a result. So, for the sake of exactness and for future reference, when I say this is a "busy news day" -- it means just that.
We hope you'll join us for tonight's broadcast.