I guess we can agree the embargo on the Woodward book is no more. The best-laid plans of media empires have again fallen, days before a grand, intricately-planned debut. We awoke to a New York Times page 1 story [NYTimes.com login required for link] announcing a staffer had purchased the book before its official release "at retail price," which is SUCH a New York way of saying "we bought the book." A friend of mine in Washington reminded me today: only New Yorkers specify whether they paid "retail" for something.
At any rate and on to larger matters: there is a wealth of material in the book, we'll let Mr. Woodward stand by his work and his sourcing. Our own Andrea Mitchell is among the journalists who signed a confidentiality agreement (standard in these types of things) meaning she could possess and read the book, but could not discuss its contents with anyone. On conference calls that we had internally yesterday, Andrea excused herself from any discussion of the book's contents. We had to report what we could without her, and while yesterday's reporting was based largely on what had already been placed in the public record... and what Jim Miklaszewski and others could add... today's New York Times story (sharing the meat of the book with the world) left such agreements practically, if not legally, moot. Tonight we'll report the book's major points and the White House defense. We'll talk about all of it with Tim Russert. It also turns out Jack Abramoff was more familiar with the White House staff directory than was previously thought. We'll hit that, too.
Also tonight, a story that I've wanted to get on the air for some time: the airborne behemoths of the firefighting business out west: they are Russian-made and American-made jumbo jets, heavily retrofitted to carry thousands of gallons of water or fire retardant. With California's "Day" fire now burning since Labor Day, it's a fair question: Why aren't they being used more often? While it may not be a GOOD answer, there IS an answer to that question... George Lewis has filed a great piece on this topic tonight.
On the topic of a different, fatal fire: there is outrage in Rhode Island tonight over the case of the nightclub fire. Having been in that state that very summer, and having followed that case (and knowing full well how close-knit a place it is, and how the reality differs from the bad accents and hideous caricatures of Showtime's "Brotherhood"), this is an emotional story to watch. Also tonight we'll have a profile of an extraordinary woman of science in our "Making a Difference" segment.
These past two days have been great outings for Tucker Carlson's "Beat the Press" segment on MSNBC -- quite often the most entertaining stuff on television at that time of day. Very excited about the season premiere of Saturday Night Live tomorrow night (I'm watching the rehearsal via closed-circuit television right now). I hope you all have a good weekend.
Please join us for tonight's broadcast.