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CRASHING IN THE LOWER NINTH WARD

President Bush is airborne, and right now we are feverishly condensing a wide-ranging 25-minute conversation with the president (with stops and starts for cameras, logistics, venues, and the heat) into broadcast form. The term of art we use is "crash edit," and right now that's exactly appropriate. We covered a number of topics, from Katrina to Iraq to his own legacy... to his relationship with his father... to his summer reading list. The latter contains a surprise that surpasses Albert Camus' "The Stranger."

The schedule for the president's time on the ground... and our time with him... was revised as late as 2 a.m. It was further revised when the president moved our interview up by an hour, on the fly, because of the heat of the day and the crowd waiting to see him and the first lady.

We will take a moment tonight to air tape of how we began the broadcast exactly a year ago. How little we knew then... about what was on the way.

We'll also have the other news of this day, but from where we sit -- the president's comments make up much of the news. A lot of people -- the best technical and editorial people in our business -- worked very hard today in the blistering heat of the wasteland that is this portion of the Lower Ninth Ward -- in order to bring you tonight's broadcast.

Tomorrow evening we'll be back in our home studio in New York. We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast from New Orleans.

Photo caption: Brian and President Bush talk today at Musicians' Village in the Upper Ninth Ward. Photo by Subrata De, NBC News.