Having started the day with no voice, I have spent much it in my office avoiding conversation and trying to coax a croak into enough of a noise to get me through a half hour of television. I felt awful when correspondent Janet Shamlian brought her very cute little daughter by my office for a visit earlier today: at that point in the day, I was making sounds audible only to whales -- and I'm afraid she left here wondering who the scary man was. I will make an azithromycin-and-tea-fueled attempt to get through the broadcast this evening, having come down with the same upper-respiratory thing that millions seem to be battling.
How we'll begin the broadcast is still a bit up in the air. We just exited the 2:30 editorial meeting, and the problem is not a shortage of stories. The sad discovery on Mount Hood is among the stories we'll cover. The search effort continues, and conditions today aren't quite what they were yesterday. Many family members spoke to the assembled media today, amid the backdrop of sadness and trepidation with each passing day. Just this past hour, the family of Kelly James has confirmed that it was indeed his body. The Vietnam-era Chinook helicopters we've been watching are still the workhorses of the Army and Army Reserve -- they all have a ton of miles and flying hours on them -- and while they've been retrofitted over the years (with new avionics, regular engine changes, etc.), those airframes are the originals. I flew on several in Iraq with Gen. Wayne Downing, U.S. Army, ret., who was able to point out the patched-up bullet holes in one Chinook's skin dating back to the Vietnam war. One Iraq-based Army Chinook I flew in still had a vintage canvas bag for shell casings from the door-mounted machine gun, bearing a stenciled date from the 1960s. In this case (and as is common in aviation), maintenance and upkeep often matter more than the age of the airframe -- as evidenced by the hard work those helicopters are doing, along with their Black Hawk brethren, in some nasty weather atop Mount Hood over these past few days... and in hostile, unforgiving places elsewhere on the planet.
Also tonight: a new Pentagon report on the Iraq war will (we know from an advance read) contain some "devastating" findings and facts. Jim Miklaszewski will have that report for us. Ron Allen will update us on the "era of good feelings" in the NBA -- the repository of fellowship, sportsmanship and holiday warmth. Oh... and heavy fines and a lot of cursing.
Kevin Corke has a story on what can often be the financial "underside" of this time of year -- when a lot of lower-income folks are forced to pay even more than they should just so they can afford to give gifts to their loved ones. And the aforementioned Janet Shamlian (she of the daughter with permanent emotional scars from her visit to the croaking anchorman's office), will have a piece on the musical tastes of the Baby Boom generation. If you guessed James Taylor and Elton John, you guessed correctly. And then some.
In our journalism watch: two superb page one stories in this morning's New York Times: one on an American prisoner held in Iraq, the other on the "wood boilers" that are fouling the air in New England (and other places) while providing heat cheaply (NYTimes.com login required for links). And my thanks to TIME magazine editor Rick Stengel for inviting me to author a reality check of sorts in this week's edition on their choice of "Person of the Year" and the current media landscape. We're also extremely grateful to the panel put together by the Baltimore Sun for the nice things they had to say about us in a review of various television network blogs. We work hard at it, and it means a lot to all of us who contribute.
We hope you will join us for our Monday night broadcast as we start another week.