Brian anchors the broadcast tonight, but Chief White House Correspondent David Greogry is on 'Early Nightly' duty.
Click here to watch the vlog and find out what stories we're working on this Wednesday.
Brian anchors the broadcast tonight, but Chief White House Correspondent David Greogry is on 'Early Nightly' duty.
Click here to watch the vlog and find out what stories we're working on this Wednesday.
Brian interviews Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo by Virginia Sherwood, NBC News
We have just returned from an extensive interview with the president of Iran. We are right now slamming together the various components of sound... the various "best-of" questions and answers that will air tonight in the broadcast, on topics ranging from the Pope to President Bush to nuclear weapons. We conducted the interview at his hotel in Midtown Manhattan, surrounded by members of his delegation, his sizable security detail and the U.S. Secret Service agents who are responsible for his safety while he's on American soil. It was a fascinating conversation with a hugely controversial world figure... and while these events are not without their frustrations (his more outlandish comments beg follow-up questions at the rate of one every 10 seconds, and yet we had to cover a lot of ground, which limited our ability to drill down), I think our viewers will learn a lot about him and his beliefs by watching and hearing his answers.
In addition to President Bush's speech to the U.N. today, we also saw a military coup in Thailand, there is space shuttle news (a delayed arrival back home) to report, and much more.
Off I go to wade into the transcript of our interview and look at our options for tonight. The interview (beyond the portion we air tonight) will shortly be available in a number of forms and on our various cable/Internet platforms.
We have a lot to do before airtime tonight, and we certainly hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.
Brian anchors the broadcast tonight, where the top story will likely be President Bush's speech to the U.N. Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory will cover that, and offers a preview in today's vlog. Click here to watch.
It's not often the President chooses to speak to a crowd that includes his friends and his enemies. But that's what he's doing in 30 minutes at the United Nations General Assembly.
Today all of us will spend equal time listening to Bush and watching the crowd to see the likes of Iran's volatile President Mahmound Ahmadinejad reacting.
For all the build up, White House sources say there won't be any direct provocation. But it's still high drama. The two have openly challenged each other, and while Ahmadinejad would love to debate the President, Mr. Bush has refused to meet with him until Iran agrees to end its pursuit of a nuclear program.
The General Assembly has never been a friendly place for this President. He made the case for war against Saddam here and has since done little to hide his distrust of the international body.
But things have changed now. Critics say the President can't afford to isolate the U.N. He needs U.N. action to confront Iran, North Korea and to help in Iraq.
And so Bush will keep it friendly today. I'm told the major theme will be supporting moderate governments in the Middle East to combat a wave of Islamic extremism.
We'll hear from Ahmadinejad later.
If you didn't know any better, judging by the cross-town traffic alone, you'd think the whole world had descended upon New York this week. Come to think of it, that's partially true. At some point in tonight's broadcast, we'll raise the curtain on the General Assembly gathering at the United Nations, and the tricky job that is ahead for President Bush, who speaks tomorrow. It has to do with the status of world powers, and America's position in the world.
We'll also update the situation in Iraq, and the continuing fallout from the Pope's speech. In this country, we'll have an update on the Western fires (the Day fire in California, burning since Labor Day, is only 15% contained thus far) and some special reporting tonight on women and girls. We'll also take a look at something we usually don't see: the outtakes from a piece correspondent Mark Mullen recently prepared for Nightly News. One of our sharp-eyed employees noticed that the material we were forced to leave on the virtual, digital "cutting room floor" was as good as the story that Nightly News viewers saw. So tonight, in a nod to complete transparency, we'll show you what only we on the inside were able to see... until now. We're also keeping an eye on the business world: from Apple to HP, we'll take a look in the coming days at the companies that have made news of late... though not intentionally in all cases.
We're back from Cuba, just slightly worse for wear, and hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.
As Brian explains in today's vlog, many of this Monday's stories are updates on stories we first reported on Friday... from the E. coli spinach scare to Pope Benedict's apology to Muslims. You'll also want to click here and watch today's 'Early Nightly' to find out why the back of the broadcast will feature a unique story that, in Brian's words, "never would have normally" made air.
This has been a busy weekend for news. The story that is capturing much of the attention around the world is the Pope's controversial speech last week that has prompted outrage among many Muslims. After the Vatican issued a statement yesterday that stopped short of an apology, the Pope today went a bit further... saying he was "deeply sorry" for the reaction to his speech. Still some said it wasn't enough. Tonight NBC's Ned Colt is following this story and he'll have the latest.
We are also following a developing story from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh where five members of the school's basketball team were shot on campus after a party last night. Right now, the search continues for the suspected shooter. NBC's Michael Okwu will have more on that.
We're also following that E. coli outbreak. As we reported last night, the government is now warning against eating all fresh spinach products. The question now… what else should Americans be worried about? Ron Allen has some answers.
Just some of the stories we are covering tonight. We hope you'll join us.
"OHHHHH, TEAM, BREAK IT DOWN! OFFENSE! BREAK IT DOWN! DEFENSE! BREAK IT DOWN! HURRICANES! SPELL IT OUT! H-U-R-R-I-C-A-N-E-S! CANES ON THREE, CANES ON THREE! 1,2,3, CANES!"Those were the sounds of the South Plaquemines High School football team on a recent Friday night during their first game of the season. This "Friday Night Lights" moment was not unlike thousands of others playing out in small towns across the country. But it differed in one respect. These players were making a comeback a year after Katrina destroyed their homes, school and community. You can see Martin Savidge's inspirational story on the Hurricanes tonight on Weekend Nightly News.
It was immediately clear that it was no ordinary flight -- when this morning, on final approach, the Bay of Pigs was visible in the distance off the right wing.
Landing in Cuba is always a feast for the eyes of an aviation buff. There are old DC-3 tail-draggers in various stages of air-worthiness. In another direction, in the shadow of the thoroughly modern, Western-style control tower, there's a Russian-made passenger jet... and all along the tarmac are the assembled aircraft in town for the summit. The Boeing Business Jet of the Government of Brunei, commercial airliners from Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran... a Gulfstream from Algeria. A DC-8, a beaten-up TriStar, an old Connie missing an engine. They're all here.
We were driven from the tarmac to the terminal in a late-model Ford Econoline van. From there, through Immigration (a smiling, pleasant, uniformed woman looked at my passport and asked, "You like New York?") and then it was onto the streets of Havana -- and the usual assortment of "land that time forgot" automobiles, right off the set of a Scorsese film: a '58 Oldsmobile, a '56 Merc, and a tricked-out, rusted-out '57 Chevy... the automobiles that were new back when the curtain came down on the outside world. (Note to Coppola fans: think of the cars lined up outside the party when Michael was driven to the airport on New Year's Eve, 1959, following "the kiss" that cooked Fredo.)
Photo caption: The control tower of Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, with a Russian passenger jet in the foreground. Photo by Subrata De, NBC News.
Not unlike the fleet of gleaming Buicks you would see at a PGA Tour event, Hyundai is the Official Automobile of the Nonaligned Summit. Seeing any kind of shiny new automobile makes the contrast to the occasional passing rusted Chevy, or ox-driven cart... even more striking.
Entering the brand new building that is serving as press center for this event, it felt like we were in a high-end lobby in the Middle East: gleaming, high-polished floors, rough rock walls. It was later explained to me that this structure was built by an Israeli, contracted by the Cubans. It's very Tel Aviv, and it's a mind-bender, but there are a lot of those here. My traveling party, per usual, consists of producers Subrata De and Jean Harper -- both women have the resourcefulness of Army Rangers and the stamina of camels. Most importantly, they are good company and great at what they do. We walked into a fully-prepared workspace and satellite transmission facility. NBC News technicians have been here for days, as have our Nightly News advance team members.
Photo caption: From Havana, Brian anchors NBC News coverage of President Bush's press conference. Photo by Subrata De, NBC News.
Mary Murray is our terrific correspondent here in Havana. A fellow product of New Jersey, her husband is Cuban, and their daughter (who is serving as our office assistant today) is in med school here. Mary knows this nation thoroughly and has greased the skids for our trip here.
I just got off the phone with New York, and there sure is a lot of news back home. It may well be that despite our Havana backdrop, we are forced to begin the broadcast tonight with a topic other than the one at hand. The E coli. story back in the U.S. is getting more and more serious, and there are great fears of a rapid spread, which would bring more deaths. Dr. Nancy Snyderman will make her Nightly News debut as part of our coverage. The President's news conference (see selected quotes below) made a lot of news. As a side note, I thought his remarks on the death of Governor Ann Richards could not have been more gracious.
We'll cover today's developments at Ford Motor Company -- the beginning of what is nothing short of the redesign of one of the great nameplates in Detroit. We're covering this closely -- for what it means for traditional union labor in this country, the economy -- and besides, as a Ford owner I'm interested to see how this affects the product line and overall quality.
On another front, the Pope's remarks are just beginning to resonate. Keith Miller will have our report on his words and the angry reaction today.
As I mentioned in my post yesterday: What an odd feeling, as a visiting American, knowing that in a hotel ballroom not far from here there is a sizable collection of enemies of the United States. Judging from the various communiques and hyperbolic quotes that have come out of this confab so far, "decadent" seems to be the new word of choice in criticizing the U.S. While Fidel had three speeches on the schedule, this morning word arrived (as chronicled by Andrea) that we would not see him in person. He is holding meetings with visitors (Kofi Annan among them) in his vaguely Hefner-style silk robe, in his sparse hospital suite. Local media report he has gained back half of the 40 pounds he lost after surgery. In preparation for this trip, the single best piece of writing I came across (re-read, actually) was "Castro's Last Battle" written by Jon Lee Anderson in the New Yorker. His depiction of this place is at times jaw-dropping, and superbly written throughout.
Observers in the Western World who are looking for a positive development from this summit might find it in the planned meeting tomorrow between India and Pakistan. It's the first time they've spoken formally in quite some time... and given the throw-weights at stake, it's being labeled a positive development by many.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
"We're a friendly newspaper."
"I'd hate to see un-friendly."
-Exchange between Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times and President Bush
"Listen to the words of the enemy."
"May I follow up?"
"No, you can't."
-Exchange between Terry Hunt of the Associated Press and President Bush
"It took you a long time to unravel, and it took you a long time to ask your question."
-President Bush to NBC News Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory
"You're looking beautiful today, Dave."
-President Bush to David Gregory BEFORE their spirited exchange
"It breaks our collective hearts."
-President Bush on Darfur
"Did you start with, 'Hi, Mr. President?'"
-President Bush remarking on Stolberg's salutation after being called on
"It's always an interesting experience for a West Texas fella."
-President Bush on his upcoming speech at the U.N.
"I'm encapsulated here."
-President Bush on life in the White House "bubble"
"I actually got an Eileen Fisher blouse recently!"
-An NBC News Havana staff member, explaining why many Cubans are these days wearing more modern clothing -- thanks to bulk purchases by the Cuban government of slightly-used clothing from Canada
I'm heading outside to talk with the locals.
To say that a lot of effort, time and money has gone into tonight's broadcast would be a major understatement. One program note: While we usually air our "Making a Difference" reports on Friday nights, because of where we are and the crush of today's news, we will have to reschedule today's piece. We sincerely hope you can join us for NBC Nightly News from Havana.
Brian recorded today's vlog on the flight from Miami to Havana. Click the link to the right (below the advertisement) to watch.
I hope many of you saw Brian anchor, live from Havana, NBC News coverage of President Bush's news conference. Click here to watch video of Brian talking to NBC's Tim Russert after the speech. And click here to read MSNBC.com's wrap and analysis.
We're expecting Brian's daily vlog from Havana in the next hour or so, and I've also asked Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory to weigh in on his questioning of the president about redefining Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
Last but not least, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell is covering the "Nonaligned Summit." She has filed a couple reports on MSNBC-TV already today about Fidel Castro's hospital room embrace of Hugo Chavez. Click here to watch one of them.
We are at Miami International Airport awaiting clearance to take off. We first have to clear our departure with the U.S. government, and with the Havana tower: you don't want any mistakes involving aircraft approaching Cuban airspace. President Bush has called a news conference for 11:15 a.m., and so we may see a modern-era television first: anchoring a Presidential news conference from Cuba... scene of the gathering of most of our nation's enemies over the next few days. Communications from there are both shaky and monitored, so future posts may be sparse and terse. We'll see you tonight from Havana.
The news from Ford is stunning. This is a game-changer. It will have an incalculable effect on Detroit, though I understand the analysts and executives who say: it's restructure or die. Cars have changed and so has the market for them. We'll report on the news of the day and what this means.
Also tonight: the President goes to the Hill, and David Gregory will bring us up to speed on politics. Andrea Mitchell is in Havana for the summit of non-aligned nations... meaning basically all those who didn't want to be our friend or the Soviet Union's (with exceptions, of course) back in the 60s. What an interesting gathering... how often do all of this nation's enemies gather in the same hotel ballroom, after all? The fact that it's happening 90 miles off the coast of Florida makes it all the more interesting.
We have interesting reports on things military, on science, medicine and technology. Colin Powell made news today, and we'll talk about that, too. I've got to go get my hands in the mix. Off to the newsroom. I hope you can join us for our Thursday night effort.
HAVANA, Cuba -- This city is festooned with signs and banners welcoming foreign leaders to a gathering that looks like a reunion of President George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil." Cuban officials tell me the point is not to attack America, but many of the billboards here tell a different story: they portray President Bush with fangs, call him an "assassin" and even compare him to Adolf Hitler. (The Castro government is accusing the U.S. of harboring a man known here as the Osama bin Laden of Cuba -- a Cuban exile now jailed in Texas on immigration charges, but accused in Havana of terror plots. It's part of the backdrop for the angry rhetoric against the U.S.)
Brian will be anchoring from here tomorrow night, which is a very big deal. Cuba TV -- part of the government here -- has already talked about his anticipated arrival.
WHY ARE WE ALL HERE?
For one thing, Havana is always interesting, and Cuba has not permitted any foreign journalists in since Fidel Castro turned over power -- he said temporarily -- to his brother Raul and a triumvirate of officials on July 31st. This is our first chance to talk to Cubans about how they view this change after a half century of Fidel's rule.
We've found some unease, but less than you might think. It's clear that Fidel prepared well for a succession. Even five years ago, after he fainted during a mid-day rally, he had told me his brother would succeed him and that the revolution would live on. This is not what the current White House hopes, or expects. It has set aside $80 million to encourage anti-Castro dissent. Interestingly, I interviewed a prominent dissident yesterday who said that she and her friends don't want money from the U.S. government. Taking American support would undermine their credibility here and help the regime portray them as tools of the U.S. By the way, representatives of the Communist Party visited here last weekend and told her not to organize any protests this week while the summit is in session. Their warning did not stop her and the other "women in white" -- wives and other supporters of 60 men jailed three years ago for criticism of the government -- from donning their white dresses and conducting their silent protest by attending Sunday mass.
Of course, we are also here to cover the summit, a meeting of so-called "non-aligned nations." It is an artifact of the Cold War, of countries seeking power for themselves outside either the East or the West. When they first gathered in Belgrade in 1961, Fidel Castro was 35, a revolutionary leader admitting that he was a communist. In 1979, at the peak of the Cold War, he hosted the annual gathering. Now 80 and ailing, Castro was supposed to be greeting the 50 heads of state arriving here today to talk about world poverty and criticize U.S. policy. Instead, he's in his hospital room, but his aides say he is recovering and giving orders by phone. That said, there is a real sense here of the passing of an era. No one in government says Castro will be back in charge. Friends, like an Argentinian author who visited him yesterday, are trying to perpetuate the legend. This visitor described Castro as looking like Don Quixote, especially after losing so much weight since his surgery. Another visitor today -- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez -- described Fidel as looking like the Man of La Mancha, but "victorious and invincible" (unlike Cervantes' dreamer).
Buoyed by billions in oil revenues which have helped Cuba offset the crippling affects of the U.S. economic embargo, Chavez was greeted as a hero when he arrived today. With Castro offstage, Chavez is asserting himself as the next leader of the movement. But he isn't the only focus of attention: Iran's President Ahmadinejad is also in Havana and will likely get an endorsement for his nuclear standoff with the West.
In many ways, this summit will rehearse next week's arguments over Iran, Iraq and North Korea at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The U.S. is not without some support here -- from Iraq, Pakistan, and India, among others countries -- but behind the scenes or not, Fidel Castro is still orchestrating this performance. And even if he only shows up for a curtain call, if he's physically able, he will not pass on one last opportunity to hammer away at his nemesis to the north.
Editor's note: Andrea discussed the scene in Cuba today on MSNBC-TV. You can watch her report here. She'll also talk with Brian on tonight's broadcast.
Brian anchors the broadcast tonight from New York, but Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory is on 'Early Nightly' duty. Click the link to the right (below the advertisement) to hear some of the stories we're working on for tonight's broadcast.
We are watching this unfolding situation in Canada very carefully. What an awful event. At this writing we don't know where it will place in the order of stories tonight. Elsewhere in the broadcast, we'll report on the war on terror, we'll debut the newest NBC News poll numbers (interesting data on the status of the GOP and the Administration's recent evocation of Hitler and appeasement) and we'll talk to Tim Russert. We'll also stay with our coverage of what we last night called the worst fire season out West (in terms of acreage burned) in possibly 75 years.
We'll talk about today's troubling projection concerning children and obesity, a new requirement for cars (coming soon) and the latest media hoax, unmasked.
Speaking of which, during primetime network television last night, I saw a marketing campaign that might just define chutzpah. Perhaps you've seen the newest commercials: Mothers and their daughters, women and their best friends, baring their souls. Sharing their innermost secrets with each other, and thus with a national viewing audience. I'd seen one of the spots before, but last night I listened closely for the sponsor. It turns out the commercials are promoting a new "limited edition" of Secret anti-perspirant. I don't know about you, but nothing says "keepsake" like an anti-perspirant. Who among us doesn't have a treasured, limited-edition roll-on, stick or spray anti-perspirant passed down to us from a favorite aunt or grandparent?
While we're at it, while cruising the MSNBC.com Web site Monday evening, I saw the following two stories, ranked in order, back to back, under RECOMMENDED STORIES:
Do we need any further indicator of where our society is in 2006?
On the upside, we can report the beginning of a new era. It's been a big day here at 30 Rock. We had some fun on the Today Show, welcoming Meredith Vieira as well as unveiling a new on-air look in the mornings. It's been a long wait, but finally our friend is here and part of the team. Today we had some fun taping a segment on her NBC initiation. She's already had a wonderful effect on the place, and we're all so happy to welcome her. We exchanged battlefield stories today, mostly regarding parenting and the annual nighttime ritual of shopping for school supplies. Meredith's authenticity and the emphasis she places on her wonderful family may be her greatest charms -- and perhaps because I'm thinking of my son's soccer game today and my daughter's drama audition at college as I write this -- I find that quality in her so instantly endearing.
We hope you can join us for our Wednesday night broadcast.
Why is Brian wearing a sweatshirt in today's vlog? Click the link to the right (below the advertisement) to find out!
Federal authorities have declined to prosecute a man who tried to open a cabin door during a United flight from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles airport last night [story link].
Flight 890 was about two hours from Dulles when the man walked to the rear of the plane and flipped up the handle on the rear cabin door. Because those doors cannot open when a plane is in flight, nothing happened to the door. But the same cannot be said of the man. A federal investigator says he was immediately jumped by nearby passengers and beaten. "They roughed him up quite a bit," a federal official says.
However, after an investigation by the FBI, prosecutors declined to file charges. Federal agents said the man flipped the handle out of curiosity or boredom, not intending to cause any harm. "It was a stupid move. Something an eight-year-old kid would do," an FBI official says.
The official says the man, who spoke Portuguese and little English, was apparently a professional Jiu-Jitsu fighter and was described as walking around the cabin during the flight, trying to attract attention. "He was strutting his stuff," the official says.
Even though federal authorities won't prosecute, local prosecutors are considering some charges.
I received an urgent request from a U.S. Army colonel via e-mail this morning. He said that the surveillance photo I included in my blog post yesterday of Taliban members gathered at a funeral in Afghanistan should not have been released, even though I was told by others in the U.S. Army that it had been properly declassified. The colonel asked me to pull it off the Web site. There was no more explanation than that. As a courtesy, and with an awareness of the danger U.S. forces are in, I had the photo pulled.
We are now returning the picture to this blog after Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters in a briefing today that he is unaware of any official Pentagon or military request to pull the photo off MSNBC.com or not to air the photo. I have also spoken to the military intelligence officers who gave me the photo and they say while there are now some internal debates about the release of the photograph, it's declassified and ours to broadcast and print on the Web.
So here is the photo -- again -- and a link to my original post from yesterday:
Photo courtesy: U.S. Army
We have so many compelling stories to report tonight, I could make a rational argument for any of three or four stories to start us off as the lead. There's the Anbar province story I mentioned here yesterday. There's the reaction today to the President's speech last night. How about the overnight developments in Syria? How about looking to the Western United States, where the prediction is: this will be the worst season for burned acreage in 75 years?
There are several major stories about American life and health... and it would be unfair to pass them off as light or "lifestyle" stories in any way. One deals with our definition of religion and God, another with childhood ear infections. Yet another story has to do with the early admissions process at some colleges (the story today was not so much that Harvard was doing away with it... as it was the ripple effect throughout higher education)... and a story you may have heard about on the radio today has to do with predictors of longevity. We will sort it all out by air time.
I noted an unusual number of complimentary and kind comments to this blog after last night's broadcast. My personal thanks to all of you who watched and wrote. Getting the tone of last night's broadcast exactly right was of great importance to me, as was correctly and respectfully portraying what we found at Hangar 17. That piece was the beautiful work of producer Subrata De and videotape editor Rob Kaplan... and with production help from the razor-sharp Megan Marcus. My thanks as well to Rudolph Giuliani and to Tom for joining me last night.
Ground zero is an awfully sad and striking place still, made all the more eerie by nightfall. I can't help but think that the family members who gathered there yesterday deserved something more than the rubber-lined temporary wood-frame "reflecting pool" set up for yesterday's anniversary. We could all use a proper place to go to pay our respects. Perhaps someday...
We're getting ready for a big day tomorrow for my friends on the morning shift, as Meredith starts what I'm certain will be a spectacular run. I'm thrilled to have her here, and equally excited for my colleagues at Today -- who tomorrow will test-drive their new digs...an HD-ready set and control room. Nightly News is next up.
I hope you can join us for this evening's effort.
A day after watching former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani talk about how his city has changed in the five years since 9/11, it was fascinating for me to watch another mayor talk about the changes his city has undergone since its disaster.
Today, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin held a long-anticipated news conference to update citizens on the progress of his "100-day plan." Mr. Nagin made a major pledge upon his re-election to improve the city's quality of life within his first 100 days. But over the past few months, columnists, radio talk show hosts and citizens have taken the mayor to task for not defining his vision for the city's recovery.
Photo caption: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin discusses his accomplishments and plans for the city after 100 days of his second term. Photo by Lee Celano, REUTERS.
But still, Nagin acknowledges "the city isn't where it should be." He says that will take years. It seems no one disagrees with him on either point. But it will be interesting to see how his critics and even his supporters will judge him over the next 265 days and the three following years of his term. Though no one used the word in the news conference today, outside City Hall, it seems that every question comes back to how he leads the city versus how he manages it.
Giuliani faced similar questions prior to 9/11. As a former New Yorker, I know Giuliani was a polarizing figure. Like Nagin, he was known to speak his mind and to occasionally make a remark that divided people. Giuliani, like Nagin, proposed some controversial policies. And Giuliani, also like Nagin, sometimes had a less-than-cordial relationship with the news media.
But some have said that 9/11 indelibly stamped the positive attributes of Rudy into the minds of the public. He was decisive, calm under pressure, and communicated a clear vision of what he intended to do.
Katrina and its aftermath have yet to do the same for Mayor Nagin. He is indeed, charismatic, honest and determined. But today, as on many other days, he was asked by the media whether he can communicate a vision to New Orleanians of what their city will look like. He declined. To be fair, Nagin explained that he wants citizens to plan their neighborhoods first and the market economy to drive the recovery.
That may be the right answer. Only time will tell. But unfortunately, it's not the answer many citizens say they want to hear right now. In every neighborhood we visit, residents pepper us with questions: "Do we know when their debris will be picked up? Do we know anyone at City Hall who can help them with a rat problem? Have we heard whether there are plans to rebuild the rental apartments down the block?"
We can't answer all their questions. And Nagin cannot. Just as Mr. Giuliani couldn't answer questions after 9/11 about destroyed apartments near the World Trade Center, about whether small businesses would return to downtown Manhattan and even when redevelopment would begin at ground zero.
100 days of progress may be a tough thing for Nagin to sell to his citizens. Perhaps, it will take five years after Katrina for history to judge his decisions fairly. However, it didn't take Giuliani that long to inspire a feeling of confidence in his leadership after 9/11. He accomplished that in the few months he had left in his second term. Nagin still has time to do the same: 1,360 days by my count (4 years minus 100 days).
Brian recaps yesterday's 9/11 coverage with a question about the lack of a fitting memorial, five years later, to the men and women who lost their lives that day, and he looks ahead to tonight's stories. Click the link to the right (below the advertisement) to watch.
Editor's note: This story has evolved since this original posting. Click here for the latest and to see the photo in question.
KABUL, Afghanistan - In this country, just a tad smaller than President Bush's home state of Texas, Taliban influence is on the rise. The U.S. military admits difficulty tracking their fighters in Afghanistan's remote mountains. It's why U.S. intelligence officers are so upset by a recent lost opportunity.
The picture above, declassified at NBC News' request, shows 190 members of the Taliban at a funeral. It's believed by U.S. Army officers that several of those gathered were top Taliban leaders. But the U.S. was unable to take out the men standing in formation.
Why? Under the rules of engagement, the U.S. cannot bomb a cemetery.
One officer involved says, "We were so excited. I came rushing in with the picture." But in the end, that excitement turned to frustration. The unmanned Predator drone, flying undetected overhead, continued to feed back pictures as the Taliban dispersed, heading off in tiny groups, too small to effectively target.
Tonight's broadcast will originate from Ground Zero. We'll look at this day around the country, and where we are five years after 9/11. Also tonight, we'll show, for the first time on network television, where all the artifacts from that day are kept. We will tour the hangar at JFK Airport where all the things we remember are being gently cared for. We have quite a broadcast planned -- from overview to microcosm -- and whatever happens in between.
I incorrectly labeled an Indian fable as a story from the Bible in an essay I wrote for MSNBC.com today, exposing more of my woeful lack of religious education than I'd like to. It has since been corrected. Thanks to those who wrote and apologies.
It was a brave and commendable decision by MSNBC to run the "Today" show from 9/11 uninterrupted. It's alarming to remember how little we knew early on. It's shocking to remember what Ron Insana looked like, dust-covered and still shaken, de-briefing our anchor trio on his experience in Lower Manhattan. It's heartening to see, all over again, what a great job our folks did that day.
As I type this, the NYPD/FDNY band is playing on the plaza outside my office at 30 Rock. There's a sizable lunch hour crowd enjoying the music on this sparkling day, and allow me to repeat what you've already heard: today's weather is exactly the same as it was that day.
A co-worker came in my office this morning and reported that she inadvertently carried a bag onto a trans-continental flight last night containing all sorts of liquids, creams and gels. It attracted zero attention from the TSA. Because she's in the news business, she punctuated her story with a question, "Are we better off? You tell me."
Another co-worker, taking a commuter van pool to work this morning, got stuck in one of the city's tunnels for an hour... during which time she was highly anxious because of today's date. That's what it's like here today.
Hidden in today's news is the fact that the U.S. Marine Corps intel says our forces have lost control of Anbar province, politically if not militarily... and any prospect of security in the region is described as "dim."
Also in print: the Saturday Wall Street Journal was superb... including Paul Gigot's interview with President Bush. Today's New York Times is quite a piece of journalism as well... it includes a huge take-out on why, five years later, there's no place to mourn in Lower Manhattan. A Port Authority official just said on television, "We did have a bit of a delay." I'll say.
It's worth remembering: 27,000 flights will land and take off successfully in the United States today. At this time five years ago, nothing was moving.
Vice President Cheney was briefly overcome during his remarks today -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld seemed to be as well. It appeared to be a draining and tactile day for the President, who I'm sure will mention some of his encounters today with family members when he speaks later from the White House.
I'm off to the subway for a ride downtown to get in place for the compilation of the broadcast. Also, a reminder: we will anchor the President's address to the nation from that very same location at 9 p.m. ET tonight.