In an update from the region designed for our internal use, Richard Engel wrote us today to say: "Every day Iraq is now closer to OPEN Civil War," and he went on to cite as his evidence the cabinet ministries now at war with each other. It got our attention. The story of the day, for what it illustrates, might be the kidnapping en masse in Iraq. We will talk about both tonight.
Also this evening: the fight for the sub-Speaker House Democratic leadership positions... who has the votes? Today there were indications of a tilt away from Murtha and toward Hoyer... and we'll cover the former tonight. Also this evening, the automakers still known as the "Big 3" and their meeting with the President today.
Tonight we're going to continue airing the courageous reporting of my friend and colleague Ann Curry from Chad. She has done truly heroic work over there, on a story important to her and important to us as well.
We will look at the early start of the holiday retail season, price-wise, and we will continue our "Coming Home" series tonight, which got off to an emotional start with our report from Walter Reed last evening.
PERSON OF THE YEAR
I've just returned from the annual TIME magazine luncheon designed to kick around the notion of who should be on the cover of their year-end issue... the Person/People/Thing of the Year, in other words. While the folks at Time.com tell me the entire event will soon be watchable on their Web site, the preview is this: my nominee was... YOU. The cover, as I see it, should say: YOU. Because after all, it's ALL ABOUT YOU. As I then went on to explain, my point is this: it's about how our obsession with self could end up tearing us apart. We wake up to Web applications we've tailored to our tastes, we watch cable networks that already agree with us, we listen to music on our iPods that we already love. YouTube allows us to spend hours watching the same video of a cat juggling over and over... because it sure beats watching a depressing report on North Korea. There are an estimated 100,000 new bloggers each day... many of them writing nothing more than what we once called a diary... meant to be locked up under the bed. What change in our culture (other than the arrival of the technology that makes it possible in the first place) makes us believe others are suddenly interested in those same thoughts? We've grown away from any sense of collective experience, viewing or otherwise. I wouldn't be as worried if I truly thought all of it was contributing to a "more informed electorate," but if we're all talking and writing, who has time to read and listen and debate the great thoughts and issues of the day? The celebration of self permeates all of our media -- when does it start to erode our sense of membership in a collective? Is online debate truly inclusive or just an echo chamber? Does it truly meet the Jeffersonian definition of town square-style public debate? Well, you get the picture. It turned out to be a provocative way to begin today's discussion, and it's not lost on me that I'm chronicling all of it in this medium, nor do all the points and questions posed above necessarily reflect my own views. While my fellow panelist Arianna Huffington (whose blog I read often) forcefully disagreed with my cover idea and thesis, it was a great dialogue. When Time's Webcast is ready and posted, we'll hyperlink this sentence. I promise you an interesting hour of conversation. (Editor's note: I can't find the Webcast anywhere; if someone else finds it, please post a comment and I'll link that sentence.)
Speaking of 'casts, I hope everyone saw our video podcast announcement today. We're thrilled about it, though I don't think I'll ever get used to the sight of my mug on an iPod.
I hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.