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GETTING THE PICTURE

As I write this, all of the cable news channels are showing separate but similar helicopter pictures of Building 44 at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, where a man is inside with a gun. 

All three cable news networks are using separate Houston affiliates for the aerial pictures -- you can almost imagine the helicopter ballet that's taking place overhead.  Building 44 looks a lot like all of the other buildings at the JSC -- a vaguely dated-looking flat-roof structure with a satellite dish on the roof.  Already in tonight's broadcast, we're reporting 15 incidents of either real or false alarms today involving lockdowns, barricades and various reports of weapons. 

Sadly, this sort of thing happens following any major crime incident -- and the confluence of sad anniversaries this week doesn't help.  Fox News just switched from what appeared to be a gas main fire in Baltimore to video of police cars in Ohio, covered by a graphic banner saying schools were "on edge" after threats there.  The banner now says "School Lockdowns: America's Parents on Edge."  CNBC is airing a banner saying "Dow Record Close."  To each his or her own.


The sadness on the Virginia Tech campus is starting to set in -- in a way that it hadn't yet during the two days we spent there this week.  The first wave of funerals came today -- as did a moment of silence that was observed in many places across the country.  We'll have two reports on the overall story.  I think this newsroom, which was last in the news when anthrax was sent here following 9-11, will be happy to see this week come to an end.

We've commissioned an unusual story tonight out of the best of intentions: the news we didn't have time to cover this past week.  It includes everything from the speed of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's SUV (91 miles per hour) to the sum total of the damage from last weekend's storm up through the coast of Maine, to Darfur, Don Imus (remember him? He's STILL hanging out there until Monday on the cover of the current Newsweek, which given the week's events and TIME's new cover seems now like an issue from a different light year).  It may even include mention of the "John Edwards $400 haircut" as it could well become known in the annals of American political ephemera -- taking its place alongside a supermarket scanner, Harry Truman's "beefsteak" hate mail, Carter's killer rabbit, Clinton's LAX haircut, and too many more to mention.   My favorite politician/haircut quote of all time came from Walter Mondale -- it had to do with the kind of haircuts that go over best in his beloved home state of Minnesota -- and what's best about it is that it's unprintable here.

We'll have our Friday night segment on Americans who are making a difference in society -- which will tonight bring us back around to Blacksburg, Va. -- and one of the heroes of that tragedy.  And Walter Isaacson and I will talk about his new book on Einstein.  Walter is the head of the Aspen Institute, a former editor of TIME magazine, and the author of one of my favorite books, "The Wise Men."

That will bring a close to another week.  An eventful one.  It's off to the newsroom now to start writing.  Next week for us will include a night in South Carolina -- where we'll be moderating the first Democratic Presidential Debate -- among the 1,158 declared candidates -- but its early yet.  We hope you can join us for tonight's NBC Nightly News. Have a good weekend, and we'll hope to see you Monday night.