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Meeting the press

Our day began with President Bush's appearance in a rare venue for a news conference: the Indian Treaty Room of the Old (Eisenhower) Executive Office Building. As a former White House intern who used to regularly conduct tours, I remember only some of the details of that room: its elaborate inlaid floor, and the desk drawer, which bears the signatures of American vice presidents going back many administrations. If memory serves, it was formerly the official office of the vice president, before the modern era when they moved to the West Wing. The end-of-year news conference was an interesting session, regardless of the setting. While the President put off some questions due to his upcoming strategy speech on Iraq, he answered plenty of them, and we have a lot of material to go over tonight. Kelly O'Donnell will have our report from the White House. Jim Miklaszewski will have a follow-up on the story about enlarging the military, and Tim Russert will look at the politics of all that is going on.

The weather is in the news tonight, as we need not tell you if you live in Denver. We will soon look at the videotape from our NBC station there, KUSA. This storm has already caused big problems with the Denver airport (the huge United hub) where any disruption is felt across the national grid. They are expecting 3 1/2 feet of snow just outside Boulder from this storm. It's a huge low pressure system, and so it's moving counter-clockwise over the Rockies -- and it looks strange to see weather moving from East to West across any part of the country.

Another weather-related story took a sad, grim turn this afternoon: the search effort for those two climbers atop Mount Hood has been called off -- we are awaiting the official statement. A lot of Americans have been watching this drama unfold for many days, and feel somehow invested in the search, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those families.

Dawn Fratangelo has what might be the most interesting piece in tonight's broadcast for millions of people. It's about the generation that while raising children is also caring for elderly parents. There was a lot of nodding going on in the editorial meeting this afternoon when Dawn ran through her reporting for us -- this is something a lot of us are living.

This afternoon in a Midtown Manhattan department store, I saw a famous rock star and his wife Christmas shopping. So did a lot of other people. From a distance, I watched as many of their fellow shoppers slowly removed their cell phones from their pockets and purses -- and proceeded to take pictures of the couple, some from six feet away. Some faked phone calls, others were unabashed about it. It struck me while watching it all unfold that privacy, especially for the prominent in our society, is over. The invention of the cell phone camera, coupled with Web sites that solicit real-time celebrity sightings in cities like New York and Los Angeles, make for a terribly claustrophobic atmosphere -- in this case, for a couple trying to buy a Christmas gift. Sorry, no names or locations... I'm trying to give them a little privacy.

Off we go to put this all together for tonight. We hope you will join us for our Wednesday night broadcast.