Tonight I've invited Tom Brokaw to join us for a few minutes -- we'll take a look back at what this week taught us. The fallout from the election continues -- in fact, we're still waiting for results in several big races. The President is overseas, Speaker Pelosi says she still wants to lead the Democrats, and both sides will slug it out on the Sunday talk shows. I think I'll be watching football all weekend. For now, I'm playing Aretha Franklin's Greatest Hits on my iPod at my desk. We hope you can join us tonight. Please have a good weekend.
A few random notes today: First, we were horrified to learn during our afternoon meeting that editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette has died. Doug was just 57, a Pulitzer winner and a veteran of many newspaper editorial pages. I didn't know him well, but was a huge admirer. Click to visit Marlette's site
I first met Doug during a workshop he held for children -- my daughter was among those he instructed that day in the art of cartooning. In later years, I found myself in the unlikely role of one of his subjects from time to time. His depictions of me were always kind and always funny, and not all of Doug's victims could say that. In each case, he mailed me the original, signed and inscribed with kind remarks, and in each case, he took the time to write a note. He was smart, talented, controversial and every bit as much a journalist as any of us in any branch of the profession. We have lost a treasure of the printed image.
I spoke today with a seasoned professional in the area of diplomacy and foreign affairs -- a veteran public servant who is today in the private sector. His assesment of the world was rather dim -- chiefly, the one area he says keeps him up at night: Pakistan. To that end, we have some good reporting tonight by Andrea Mitchell on that subject.
Of special note on the broadcast tonight: Keith Olbermann's essay on Barry Bonds, and a special piece of reporting by Richard Engel (see his posting this page), which while tough to watch is important and deserves an airing. On the subject of Iraq, Senator McCain made news today with a speech on the Senate floor, while the Administration is suffering defections on that front.
We also hope you'll take a look at today's blog entry on Medal of Honor recipient Wesley L. Fox.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Six months ago today, President Bush announced the so-called "troop surge" in Iraq.
45 years ago today: Telstar was launched, and the satellite communications era was underway. Today, there are more than 800 active satellites orbiting the Earth (a friend of mine spotted one crossing the nighttime sky this
past weekend in Maine and alerted our attention to it -- it's still a rare treat to see). Telstar is still up there, but inert and inactive. Anybody remember the song of the same name from the sixties?
Finally, our friend David Brinkley would have turned 87 today. David's image in our soon-to-be-redesigned Nightly News animated opening segment reminds us of the shoulders we stand on each night on the broadcast.
We hope you can join us for tonight's Nightly News.
Former NBC Anchor David Brinkley
Three work days off, plus the weekend -- a five-day break from 30 Rock and now back in the saddle again. Allow me to thank Lester Holt for so ably filling in. What I didn't see live I watched on DVR last night. There is no test of character quite like loading up the family car and driving to Maine and back over the July 4th holiday. To those of you who were with us in the bumper-to-bumper traffic yesterday on Routes 495, 90, 84 and 91 -- I felt your pain, and am still feeling my own. I am just now able to fully extend my legs and flatten out my hands from the death grip I had on the steering wheel.
Back to the job at hand: tonight we're looking at indicators that support for the war in Iraq may be shifting, especially among some crucial Republicans. We will also mention the President's most recent claim of executive privilege. We'll look at the heat and fire risk across the country as well. We have stories from Iraq (correspondent Jane Arraf) and Australia (Anne Thompson) and we will look at Boeing's new creation -- the jetliner with the curved wings: the new 787.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Sixty years ago today, Princess Elizabeth announced her engagement to her third cousin: Lt. Philip Mountbatten. At the time, the future Queen of England was 21 years old, a year younger than Prince Harry is now.
Forty years ago today: Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara visited Vietnam, where he entertained a request from Gen. William Westmoreland to boost U.S. troop strength by as much as 100,000 above the 464,000 already committed as of July 1967.
Twenty-seven years ago this month, President Carter directed FEMA to help with the heat wave that was gripping much of the country. 1,150 American deaths were attributed to the heat by late July, 1980. During that month, almost every single broadcast of Nightly News carried a story about the heat.
Please take time to read today's Medal of Honor recipient biography.
It's great to be back, and I hope you can join us for tonight's NBC Nightly News.
The London/Glasgow investigation and the Libby commutation aftermath continue to dominate our news, and we have our best correspondents on both stories. We'll have reporting from our London team, and a special look by Andrea Mitchell tonight at this President's legacy.
BRAVERY IN THE LINE OF DUTY
Richard Engel's reporting last night, from inside a branch of al-Qaida, was truly extraordinary. As I said earlier today, it was meant to be highlighted inside a large package of terrorism coverage -- but the late Libby news meant a lower position in the broadcast. I want to stress how much personal courage on Richard's part that reporting represented. I also spent some time with our colleague Jane Arraf here in New York today. She is just back from Iraq where she has filed some equally courageous work for IraqSlogger. For all those who are truly struggling to understand this war, I recommend reading her body of work from this last embedded mission of hers. Richard and Jane are both very modest about their work, and about the risks they take. [Editor's note: Richard and Jane also both contribute to MSNBC.com's World Blog] They both consider themselves fortunate to be able to chronicle the story of our time. For a military-eye-view, there's Michael Yon's latest posting -- a truly harrowing outing with some squared-away U.S. forces, including a tank commander who sounds like a piece of work.
Because of the holiday, we will suspend for the Fourth our roll call of Medal of Honor recipients. I would only ask that as you celebrate the nation's birthday, you keep these 109 men close to your thoughts.
As John Adams famously wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776 -- as beautifully chronicled by historian/national treasure David McCullough -- Independence Day (which Adams always believed would be celebrated on July 2) should be celebrated across the land with "pomp and parade ... games, sports, guns, bells, bonfire and illuminations." I plan to do all of that tomorrow. And while Adams famously never mentioned "visiting your Dad in Jersey," I plan to do that, too.
We hope you will join us for our Tuesday broadcast. I hope you will forgive me a few days with my family. Perhaps I will see some of you on a major highway over the next few days. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.
The headline worked until I realized that whoever speculated on the radio this morning that President Bush would take President Putin fishing for Blues was totally wrong. I saw the pool video feed come into the building this morning, and I noticed 41's boat "Fidelity III" was idling just off the rocks at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Me. That can usually only mean one thing, as veterans of New England salt water fishing well know: striped bass. Apparently, Putin caught the only striper (a helluva fish -- an estimated 30-incher), which led someone at our editorial meeting to speculate that KGB divers actually hooked it for him under the boat. It was worth watching the video this morning just to see the clothing of the participants: the president in a blue jacket with "43" emblazoned on the front, and Putin wearing what you'd expect the former head of the KGB to wear fishing: a kind of action-figure outfit, later shown to be a rather form-fitting, short-sleeve shirt under a windbreaker. In truth, the two men have some very serious business to transact during their 13th meeting, and we'll report on that tonight.
We continue our reporting on the London and Scotland bombing attempts, and the very basic question: how could those responsible for these spectacular failures be at all affiliated with the spectacular attacks we associate with al-Qaida? We have several correspondents on the story and will have comprehensive coverage tonight.
And while we can't say too much, our own Richard Engel has a rare and exclusive look inside al-Qaida tonight.
Seeing the town of Coffeyville, Kan., in the news all day due to flooding made me think back to my time in Kansas in my first TV job. I was once the proud owner of a car I purchased from Coffeyville Motors. It was the only thing on the lot that I could afford -- a beige Ford Escort. Can you say chick magnet? My wife actually married me despite the fact that I was still driving that car when we first met. Coffeyville is a great town undergoing an awful tragedy, and we'll have a report tonight.
There's also some fascinating data tonight on the link between stress and obesity, and Mika Brzezinski will have a great piece on a big-name American employer deciding to do right by those with special needs.
TODAY IN HISTORY
President Garfield was shot on this date in 1881 -- he died later that summer at the Jersey Shore of his injuries. Rest assured: the Jersey Shore normally has restorative powers. Garfield's problem was the sheer number of physicians who probed his wounds with unwashed hands. Not even the Jersey Shore could save him.
MEDAL OF HONOR
We have dual distinctions before us today. First, there's our biography today of one of America's Medal Of Honor recipients. John Finn is the oldest living recipient -- and was the first to emerge from the Second World War, as his acts of extraordinary bravery came during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Finn, as he's known, is an unbelievable character, with the looks of Kirk Douglas coupled with the demeanor of Mickey Rooney. At our last big meeting in New York this year, Finn volunteered to get up and speak -- because as he put it, he didn't know how much longer he'd be around. My money's on Finn.
Our other task here today is to remember. As a member of the board of the Medal of Honor Foundation, I received an e-mail Saturday night, the last line of which read, "there are now 109 living recipients." One of the great submarine warriors in U.S. history has died. Adm. Gene Fluckey was a Medal of Honor Recipient. Now there are 109. Keep them all, living and dead, in your thoughts and prayers.
We hope you can join us for our broadcast tonight.
We received first word from our London bureau that something was up -- and we now know much more about what was discovered and who they are looking for. I'm writing this about 4 minutes after getting off the air with a network special report -- an update on this scary situation in London. A car loaded with gasoline, compressed gas and roofing nails, a crowded nightclub and a cellphone detonator. What an awful combination. British citizens are being told to dial 999, their equivalent of 911, if they see anything suspicious. We are quite busy assembling our package of coverage for tonight and so this will be a short final post for the week.
While the London story (and its various outgrowths) will dominate tonight, we also have a great report from Jim Maceda, just back from an embed with the very same Stryker brigade that I once spent time with. The temperature where Jim was with these U.S. soldiers? 140 farenheit -- about the edge of human tolerance, especially considering the work they are doing.
If we have time tonight, we'll look at some of your emails, at immigration, and we'll of course end with our regular Friday "Making a Difference" segment.
I hope you can find time to read about today's Medal of Honor recipient, as we profile all 110 living recipients. Talk about making a difference.
I would ask only that you have a good weekend, and a safe one. Remember to take time out to watch Nightly News this weekend, and we'll see you from home base Monday night. If you're going to be on the road in the New York area between 6 and 7pm tonight, be extra vigilant: my son has a driving lesson scheduled. Please join us tonight for the Friday edition..
This was a history-making day in the U.S. Supreme Court chamber, and that was evident from the tone of Pete Williams' voice when he walked us through his version of events for tonight. Justice Breyer provided the emotional high point of the court session during his 27-minute oral dissent -- more of a direct rebuke of the majority opinion and its authors. We'll look at the decision, the dissent and the impact of the court's action today.
Also tonight: the death -- one more time -- of the immigration compromise, and the rise of the people in the process. There was more bad news on the China front today, with a major export to this country stopped cold. The weather news is grim in Texas as Don Teague will again report, but there is good news for all bald eagles and all of us who revere them: Anne Thompson will report on their removal from the endangered list. We have a lot more planned, but I don't want to hand all of our plans over to our capable competition.
...IN ANOTHER TIME
Yesterday's power outage here in New York reminded me of one of my favorite LBJ stories. On the night of the famous New York blackout in 1965, Johnson was in his Lincoln convertible driving around his ranch in Texas. He parked in one of his favorite spots overlooking the Pedernales River, and was listening to the local AM radio station, a CBS affiliate. He heard first word of the blackout on the CBS radio hourly newscast. He called the White House using the radio telephone in his car, and no one in the West Wing knew anything about a blackout in New York. By listening to the radio and calling Washington from a scenic overlook at his ranch, the President of the United States broke the news to his own government that New York was in the dark. He promptly appointed his aid Joe Califano (later Health and Human Services Secretary and these days with Partnership for a Drug-Free America) to be his point man for updates from New York. The recorded phone conversations between the two men -- in the hours that follow -- indicate they investigated terrorism and sabotage as possible motives (FBI Agents physically inspected the power lines between the United States and Canada) before both were ruled out. In the end, it proves that you can learn a lot from your favorite local radio station.
The New York Times featured an article today on how more people are using Post-It Notes at home, but more notably had an error in a photo caption in the A Section: it indicated that Gordon Brown will now move his family into No. 10 Downing Street, with his elevation to Prime Minister. The gist of the caption: that he won't have to move far, since he's been living right next door at No. 11. In truth, the Blair family has been living at No. 11 all along, because the residence portion was more suitable for their children.
About today's featured Medal of Honor recipient: those who watch Ken Burns' new PBS World War II epic, "The War" when it airs this coming fall will get to know Walt Ehlers. He plays a central role in Burns' film, for his heroism on the Normandy beach on D-Day. He is as sweet a man as I've ever met. What Walter did not know during that ugly morning of combat was that his own brother had died not far from where Walter himself was fighting and leading his men through the withering German gunfire. Just another story in our collection of the 110 living recipients of the Medal.
We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast, as always.
If you've watched any cable news today, you may agree that it paints a pretty grim picture of our national discourse and the political conversation in this country. I just read Joe Klein's comments as posted on his blog back today, and so it goes. What a contrast to the scene in Parliament today where Tony Blair received a rare ovation as he departed (while there's no shortage of vitriol in the U.K.). In the middle of yet another cable segment on the Ann Coulter-Elizabeth Edwards encounter yesterday, a bit of local news shocked us to attention: a power outage here in Manhattan, extending into some of the City's power lines. Knowing how these things sometimes cascade through the system, I found myself looking down 6th Avenue while on the phone, half expecting traffic lights to go dark while I watched.
The last time the power went out in New York, I was thankful that I always carry a knife: I used it to pry open the elevator door that had just closed when everything went dark. We just heard this is affecting the E,V,D and 4, 5 and 6 trains... from 5th Avenue (200 yards to the east of our office) East to the East river. That's a lot of people affected. We just heard the NYPD is holding over the shift currently on duty. That is probably safe, but can't be good.
To the task at hand: the Cheney story on the Hill is heating up, and we'll also look at the air travel woes across the country. My thoughts on that subject are well-known in this space, and it just got worse for Northwest customers. We learned today that fully 40 percent of New York flights (coming or going) no longer leave or arrive on schedule. That's an embarassment.
Please read today's Medal of Honor Recipient biography, and I'll go watch the streetlights and monitor the coverage of this power outage while we prepare tonight's broadcast. I hope you can join us for our Wednesday edition tonight.
As I write this, there is a troupe singing opera on 6th Avenue, a few stories beneath my office. They have microphones and amplifiers, and sadly I'm not a big fan. So, I just increased the volume of my iPod here in the office. Problem solved.
To the news: a primary story on our broadcast tonight happened last evening when the man once known as "Richard Nixon's Favorite Mayor" -- Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar -- gave a speech (after much deliberation) breaking with the president over the war in Iraq. While not quite an "if I've lost Cronkite ..." moment, it was a moment given Lugar's reputation. We'll talk about the speech and the fallout and the policy tonight.
China is in the news on a few fronts, and we're going to double-team that story tonight, between Pete Williams and Andrea Mitchell, who's been here in New York with us all day. We'll revisit last night's lead story -- the Lake Tahoe fire -- and look at how it's developing into something of an environmental debate. George Lewis remains on post.
The Cheney series in the Washington Post is getting a lot of attention, and one of several components in a generalized heightening of the scrutiny surrounding the Vice President. We'll be doing our own reporting on that subject this week.
We have a story right out of our own back yards tonight: the scourge of what seems like a new and bionic strain of poison ivy this year. As a victim myself, I raised my voice on this topic at the editorial meeting this afternoon. Additionally, we're going to look at hedge funds tonight (as part of a new series of reports) and we'll even take a whack at explaining how they work. We already know a lot of people are making a lot of money -- many of them with money in the first place.
How great is Chris Colvin's prairie dog video selection today? I had already caught that little gem on the Web. Yes, it has come to this. I'm discussing an animal video, and said animal has signed a development deal.
So we're moving on a lot of fronts toward tonight's broadcast. We hope you can join us for the Tuesday night edition of NBC Nightly News.
The longest day of the year is now in our rear-view mirror, and we enter that nether-season where seemingly one-eighth of the American population is on some form of summer vacation at any given time. But we trudge on. The news never stops, nor do we. My thanks to Lester Holt for filling in for me on Friday. The following are our options for the start of this new week:
The Tahoe fire is still dangerously out of control, as is the drought across some areas of the country. The Supreme Court came out with two fascinating 5-4 rulings today, which are always best explained by our own Pete Williams -- as they will be tonight.
Also tonight, we'll revisit those long days and weeks and months after Sept. 11, when the "pit" at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan was the focal point of this city. We now know the air was harmful -- and while common sense dictates that the air might well have been harmful, some positive EPA readings received much attention back then. Former EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman answered for some of that today.
I realized during our editorial meeting today that I was the only person in the room with a teenage son at home. When others scoffed at the notion of video games having an addictive quality, I paused...and thought of some of the six-hour gaming marathons I've witnessed. We're taking a look at that story for tonight. Also, we have a "What Works" report tonight in addition to an interesting piece of environmental reporting by Anne Thompson.
Back to work. We hope to have you with us tonight for the Monday edition of NBC Nightly News.
We arrived in Dallas on an uneventful (for once) and completely food-free (so what else is new?) American Airlines flight from El Paso this morning, and we'll originate the broadcast tonight from nearby Fort Worth, where I'm typing this in a borrowed office at our station here, KXAS-TV, which also houses our NBC News Dallas Bureau.
An early heads-up: we have an extraordinary interview with an Army widow from Texas tonight -- a woman who came to our attention when she mentioned us in her local paper [Read the Killeen Daily Herald stories: Her love of a lifetime | Widow vocal about opinon on war ]. It was such a kind mention that I asked her to meet with us when we arrived here. She's an extraordinary person with some interesting views on the management of the Iraq war, having lost the man she loved to a sniper.
Brian Williams and Donna Kiernan pause for the camera at Donna's house in Killeen, Texas.
Photo by Subrata De
The news from Iraq today is indeed bad, and Jim Maceda will have our reporting from there. We have medical news from Robert Bazell, and an interesting story about getting at what's beneath our feet here in Fort Worth.
And we'll continue to follow the Big Adventure of Paul Potts, my favorite story of the last few days -- he's the young man who won the entertainment contest in the U.K. by channeling Pavarotti. Today he visited New York in something of a daze.
We're one more food-less flight from home, where we will see you from New York tomorrow night. We hope you can join us for our broadcast from Fort Worth, Texas tonight.