By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
As the Super Bowl went into the final commercial break, the production staff in the Fox trailer figured it was time to bring on the strings and the chorus. As the music started to swell in the background, Joe Buck went to the break by proclaiming the New England Patriots were, and I quote, "one minute and fifty-nine seconds away from completing the perfect season." Oh well. Sorry, Joe, but this one didn't fit the story line of the broadcast. Just moments later, Joe Buck switched his tone, saying confidently that the Giants, "played a brilliant ballgame here tonight." Lately, the conventional wisdom has been anything but accurate: the lending crisis won't affect the overall economy, Hillary won't win New Hampshire, and the Patriots will skate to a perfect season with a win over the hapless, wild card Giants... who today are the best team in football.
Now to the commercials: the favorites in our house were the screaming squirrel (and assorted other animals), the Clydesdales (a perennial favorite), the Audi R8 artful Godfather-themed spot, the Coke/balloon spot and the Jeff Bridges-voiced Hyundai spot... beautifully effective. The worst were led by the offensive Panda ad by Sales Genie. And congrats to Andy Samberg and Chris Kattan, both of SNL fame, for their embedded cameo appearances in spots last night -- not to mention the Will Farrell spot.
Did anybody else notice that the crowd noise after the Tom Petty concert was looped? It sure sounded not only pre-recorded, but as if it had a discernable beginning and end. If anybody out there has the time and a copy of the game, roll it back and see if my ears are right. Listen carefully between the end of the concert -- right into the commercial break.
And while we're at it, what a beautiful Super Bowl PSA for Ronald McDonald house, featuring the lovely Jackie Myers and her equally beautiful baby -- voiced by the unequalled, unmistakable Paul Newman.
So we end our post-game wrap-up on a high note.
Tonight: we have what I think is a very interesting broadcast -- a great mix of political coverage, interviews with newsmakers and fascinating stories, as they say, "you won't see anywhere else." Thanks so much for joining us tonight as always.
Editor's note: We wanted to share this photo:
Nightly News producer Robin Skolnick aka Eli Manning poses with Brian Williams aka Lawrence Taylor
Hi. Sorry about the erratic posting schedule. Life and my real job have been demanding. And yes it is black Monday if you are a Pats fan. Congratulations Team Williams (ack-- can't bring myself to say G-G-GIAN...) Actually I can't bring myself to say anything. The incomparable Bill Simmons summed it all up for PatsNation in his 3AM column. Read it and weep.
Only have time to post in shorthand today.. beginning with the latest on the obscure bond insurers that may or may not take down the global financial system. Hedgeworld (Registration required) had some interesting comments from one of the monolines' alleged rescurers, Wilber Ross, from last week. QUOTE: "Answering a question about the likelihood of defaults in the sector, Mr. Ross said, "This will come to an end very quickly, probably within the next month or so." He said there will be "fewer players within the industry and it will look more like what it used to look like before. It was a perfectly sound business then. But apparently, with the encouragement of the rating agencies, the insurers decided to diversify into all kinds of things, including [collateralized debt obligations]-squared. That's when they got in trouble." The so-called CDO-squareds are CDOs backed by other CDOs and are considered risky derivatives instruments. The risk began to compound as those monolines not only insured the bonds but invested in them for their own portfolios, using leverage as high as 101 times, Mr. Ross said. "One problem is that there is a real limit to how much capital one can put into these deals [to insure them]; and the second problem was that these portfolios tend to be very opaque," he said.
Other private equity types apparently took a look around and also said "thanks but no thanks" according to the Financial Times (and Hat Tip to CalculatedRisk for pointing out the money quote from that story:) "If we worry that we can get shot from the shadows by something we can't see coming, it is not for us," says the managing director in charge of financial service investments for one of the leading private equity funds. "The financial guarantors pass neither the shadow test nor the ability-to-understand test."
And here's some background on fund manager Bill Ackman, who first tried to figure out a rescue for, and is now trying to expose the insolvency of, the monolines. (Will he end up being known as the guy who killed the equity markets?)
But hey, at least the monoline bosses got their bonuses this year! Good on 'ya boys!
And while we're fretting about bonds.. the bond part of the "teaser freezer" plan isn't working. Surprised?
CalculatedRisk has been delving into the "Jingle Mail" phenomenon (when your home equity goes negative and you mail your keys to the lender and walk away). CR links to a good Financial Times piece on it. And web sites that'll help you do it are starting to appear.
And CalculatedRisk (again) gets us ready for Bank Writedowns II: Commercial Real Estate.
In case you missed it, Paul Krugman had a good column about how the most substantive of the Democratic candidates couldn't overcome superficial coverage of his campaign. But John Edwards' ideas pushed his competitors to beef up their policies and moved them to more progressive positions, on health care for example.
Get yourself a WSJ subscription, people, so you can read this entire piece about rogue trader Jerome Kerviel and how the whole thing was an exercise in class warfare.
And just to prove I haven't lost my sense of humor completely, this Joel Stein column made me laugh. (Yes, I know, it's sick to laugh at our collective misery. Sue me.)
And for so many delicious reasons, this was the ad of the night last night (e*Trade-- a company in an-- errrr, ummmm-- precarious financial position buys S---- B--- [sorry can't say those 2 words] ads to trumpet their insanely high yield savings accounts [think there's a reason for that?] and selling the idea that trading stocks is so easy even a baby can do it). Apply the baby's reaction to: the state of the financial markets, the Game, life in general. Let's get on with Super Tuesday already.
by Lester Holt, NBC News anchor
A note to our non-football fan viewers, you will hear the word "super" more than a few times on the newscast tonight, but you needn't worry – we'll be talking presidential politics. You know, the other national spectator sport that will draw millions of viewers in front of the TV this week.
It is hard to characterize the trends in the Democratic contests taking place on Super Tuesday. A new batch of MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon poll numbers were released today, and the bottom line is, there is real and growing drama in the delegate race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Tuesday could be a very late night. NBC's Lee Cowan is reporting there is increasing focus on California, where Clinton has enjoyed a strong base of support. Obama, however, is making progress there, and today Oprah Winfrey is helping his cause – speaking at an Obama rally.
On the Republican side, the polls show John McCain is likely to hold on to his frontrunner status. Tonight on Nightly News, I'll talk with correspondent John Harwood about the risks and rewards McCain could face if he were to become the de facto nominee so early in the campaign season.
We'll be checking in with NBC's Kevin Corke, who reports tonight on a story sure to make big headlines tomorrow... and give the candidates for president plenty to talk about.
There's word from California that studio producers and striking writers may be nearing a deal. However, the impact of the dispute may have already resulted in permanent changes to the industry. That will be part of John Larson's reporting.
Working moms will want to be pay close attention to Savannah Guthrie's report on changes in the work place that are allowing infants to become a part of the office landscape in some places.
As always, thank you for checking in. I hope you can join us tonight for NBC Nightly News.
by Lester Holt, NBC News anchor
It is already looking a lot like election night here on the third floor of 30 Rock. The technicians and editorial staff are in this weekend rehearsing formats, camera positions, and going through some of the new technology that we hope will set our Super Tuesday coverage apart. Down the hall from our newsroom, we have a studio dedicated to just presenting exit poll data. That will be my role Tuesday on the MSNBC side of our coverage, and it involves some virtual reality elements designed to help viewers better understand how the vote breaks down in the many states where we are polling. They're going to let me take it for a spin later today so I'll be ready on Tuesday. If I like it, maybe I can get them to make me a version for my Play Station.
In the meantime, we are also busy preparing for tonight's Nightly News broadcast in which we plan a series of reports from the campaign trail. In addition to the latest on Clinton, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, and Romney, NBC's Mike Taibbi has put together a fascinating look at the changing tone and message from Bill Clinton, who, in recent days, has hit fourteen events in eleven states.
Our Savannah Guthrie takes a look at the Republican drain going on in Washington, where the list of retiring GOP legislators is growing.
Then, Peter Alexander tells us why Starbucks is putting on the brakes in what had seemed like its limitless expansion. Has the hip coffee chain lost its cool?
Those stories and an update on Knut, the cute little polar bear who captured worldwide attention, but who these days, is neither cute nor little.
Thanks for clicking on the blog. I hope you'll join us later for NBC Nightly News.
By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
Please read this Washington Times piece I've linked to -- after I saw Drudge link to it last night. Can I just state the obvious? Guess which Americans on the airport grounds that night were the LEAST likely to harm 1) a fellow citizen, 2) an aircraft. And which Americans on the airport grounds that night deserved the very best reception possible? Loyal readers know airport security is among my favorite topics: the story of John Glenn being forced to put his shoes through the O'Hare x-ray twice (was there a more patriotic American in the airport on that day, or a guy less likely to harm his fellow passengers, or more likely to defend us from an attack of any kind?) And let's not forget my recent bag inspection at an airport in California: a TSA supervisor insisting the hotel shoeshine sponge in my briefcase "contained a liquid." (So did I, come to think of it.) This is all to say we need -- and have needed for the past seven years -- to make room, somewhere, for common sense in the security process. And until we can assure passengers that 100% of the cargo in the hold just beneath their feet has been inspected, we can't call it a security process. I note with pleasure that the TSA has started a blog for complaints -- including its own liquid sub-group! It's a start.
Today's blog post shout-out goes to Bob in California: "Once Upon a Time in the West" -- what great taste. "Even the hero gets a bullet in the chest" is a great line. I last listened to it on Delta Airlines flying to Washington on Monday. Fantastic. I have a ton of Knopfler -- probably everything he's ever recorded. Earlier today I had on "The Trawlerman's Song" from the Radio Sessions CD -- and a little John Lee Hooker, some Leonard Cohen, some Wilco, the awesome "Black Books" by Nils Lofgren, some Mark Ronson, De-Phazz, the new Cat Power and the New Pornographers… AND I managed to get my work done. So its been a big day.
Don't miss Andy Franklin's great blog below. Thanks to everyone for posting…such a raucous week on the blog. We couldn't do it without you. Okay, Stephanie -- its game time. Have a great weekend, everybody -- please join us tonight for the broadcast.
By Anthony Galloway, NBC News producer
By the looks on some of the players' faces, "What are you doing to be green?" might have been one of the strangest questions asked during Super Bowl media day. (Although when another reporter asked, "What are your biggest pet peeves?" we didn't feel so bad.)
Correspondent Simran Sethi and I traveled to the University of Phoenix stadium to talk to players and the NFL's environmental coordinator about the Super Bowl's expanded effort to be more environmentally conscious.
The NFL says they've been incorporating eco-friendly practices into the Super Bowl for the past 15 years, but this year they've made serious improvements. They've purchased renewable energy, planted 10,000 trees, plan to recycle 700 tons of garbage and are even using ethanol-powered vehicles to transport players and staff. Today we learned that Expedia will purchase carbon offsets from Terra Pass to balance the CO2 impact of both teams, as well as the NFL staff working on the Super Bowl. (Greenhouse gas emissions for team and staff travel add up to an estimated 571 tons.)
Earlier this week, famed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told us he drove a hybrid and suggested we should all go see Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" because "it's the truth." Brady's backup quarterback Matt Cassel says he's going to buy a Toyota Prius after his team wins the game.
If the Patriots do win the game, they'll have finished a record-setting perfect season. And if the NFL's environmental team achieves its goals, they'll have set a different kind of standard for games to come.
By Andy Franklin, NBC News senior producer
So let's see if we have this straight. This was the week that 43 gave his final State of the Union speech, as people evaluated his legacy and compared him to his father, 41 (who was 40's vice president). Meanwhile the contest to become 44 intensified. The Republicans convened at 40's library for a debate, each claiming to be the rightful heir to the 40 legacy. On the Democratic side, the brother and daughter of 35 went public with their choice for 44. The brother of 35 made a point of saying that 42, whose wife wants to be 44, was acting a little like 33 did 48 years ago, when he tried to stop the guy who became 35 from getting the nomination, saying he was too young and inexperienced. (We should mention here that 33's daughter died this week; she was 83). Part of what was bothering the brother of 35 about the wife of 42 was something she had said a couple of weeks earlier about how it had taken 36 to pass the Civil Rights Act of '64, something that 35 wasn't able to do (and 34 didn't even try to do). But looking back, the main reason 33 opposed 35 was because he was afraid that if 35 got the nomination, he would lose to 37 (who was 34's vice president). 33 needn't have worried; 35 did beat 37 in '60, and 37 had to wait until '68 to become 37. In fact, 37 announced his candidacy on February 1 of '68 - 40 years ago today. (Things didn't work out so well for 37, and when he had to resign in '74, his vice president became 38).
Next week, the plot thickens, as the race for 44 moves to 24 states. Until then, you may want to tune out presidential politics for a while - and spend a few hours this Sunday enjoying XLII.