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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

eTed gets red

If memory serves, stretching back over the past three days, it was the closest we've come to a throw-down at the Alito hearings so far, when Senator Ted Kennedy, in mid-drubbing of Judge Alito, got into it with the Chairman, Senator Arlen Specter... over a letter Kennedy sent Specter... and Specter's contention that, in effect, his mail is his own business and domain. And while this was taking place this afternoon, cut to a classic New York moment: I was running a quick errand in Midtown Manhattan, and had to leave the building for 30 minutes. Just as the hearing heated up, the cab I was in arrived at its destination. But there was no way I was going to stop listening at that point. I asked the driver to go around the block. Then I asked him to park. All the while, Senator Kennedy's temper was rising... and so was my interest. There was just no way I was bailing out until it was over. While it might have looked odd... the two of us sitting there at Madison and 45th... it had to be done.  I think the driver learned a lot about the confirmation process today.

As I see it, the problem with covering today's Alito's proceedings is that the headlines... the moments of drama... had more to do with process and partisanship than any breakthrough in the testimony. There was incrementally more on privacy, cameras in the courtroom (who knew he's in favor?) and the law, which Pete Williams will cover. The human drama had to do with humans trying to get the upper hand.

erWe also got a first-hand lesson (during our afternoon editorial meeting) in the art form of live coverage of a hearing: the moment the anchor on the cable network we happened to be watching felt the need to helpfully "explain" what we were watching, we changed the channel to another that was just airing the hearing. Moments ago, while watching the hearing in my office, another cable network broke away (to cover "some of the other news of the day") and so I broke away from them. I've always thought it should be a Cardinal rule: if you chose to invest in live coverage of an ongoing event, stay with it. If your audience has invested in watching it, it's a good bet they don't want to watch, or listen to, anything else. They know they have other channels at their disposal.

Then again, there are good reasons why I'm not a programming executive.

On the substance of the past three days of questions and testimony, nothing I could write here could come close in quality to some of the journalism we've seen over the past 36 hours: from Dan Balz's superb reality check in the Washington Post (on the lack of viewer engagement in these hearings) to Dana Milbank's consistently great writing, especially his last two columns (and regular viewers of Keith Olbermann know Dana is as good on television as he is in print) to Elisabeth Bumiller's great Senate Skewering (and a great headline, by the way) in this morning's Times... to the op-ed piece by Tim Carvell of the Daily Show in the Times today. That last item has nothing to do with Samuel Alito, but this is the 'print kudos' section of the blog, after all. We'll have some great work of our own on the air tonight when Pete Williams weighs in from the Hill.

As I write this, the commentary bug has bitten again. At 4:40 p.m, while MSNBC has been airing a segment of commentary among its on-air guests, they have just cut back to the hearing in time to hear some remarks angrily delivered by Senator Lindsey Graham. Whatever he said has driven the Judge's wife to tears. Mrs. Alito has now left the proceedings. I shall now find out what just happened. They appear not to be the only network to have missed the moment.

Also this evening: the rollout of the plan to bring New Orleans back. Martin Savidge, who has done such solid work from our New Orleans bureau, will file that for us tonight. Mike Taibbi has a great sidebar on the tough choices Katrina has forced some families to make.

Also tonight, Jim Miklaszewski on the "new" Navy Seals. For my money, given the exposure I've had to active duty and retired service members, the Seals are about the toughest lot I've ever encountered. We were with a Navy Seal unit on our way to Baghdad just after the initial invasion, and every encounter I've ever had with a Seal has been an impressive event. Tonight we hear that the "new" component has to do with recruitment... the likes of which the Seals have never done.

Also tonight, Anne Thompson on the cars Detroit doesn't want to see. They are from China, and they cost just 10 grand. Brand new. And our popular MAKING A DIFFERENCE segment tonight: Rehema Ellis on a physician who is doing just that.

We hope you can join us for this evening's broadcast.

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COMMENTS

I'm disappointed that these hearings are seen as media "opportunities" for certain of the senators to televise their platforms rather than address the true task at hand. At least the public gets to see and, hopefully, ultimately judge the senators for their on-air conduct.

Mr Williams said "classic New York moment." Perhaps he intentionally chose to exclude technologically advanced gadets while having this moment with an incredibly lucky cab driver. Maybe it would be to the delight of many if NBC had, at it's disposal for Mr. Williams, a taxi cab specially equipped with Plasma TVs, surround sound and gee let's throw in a few Tréos while we're at it. Now that's what I call driving Miss Daisy in style....haha.

I disagree that the only drama in these confirmation hearings is about process and partisanship. Like Mr. Williams I have been glued to the hearings, commentary included. The drama I am concerned with involves my future liberty as an American citizen. The future of the direction of our country is stake. The Supreme Court is a vital check in our balance of powers. Currently the power balance, a conservative balance,is weighted heavily on the side of the legislative branch and the executive branch. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that this process was never anything but politics.

Mr. Graham's dramatic cries during the hearings of "unfair" and "we are so sorry," ring hollow. Was he sorry when he and his party railroaded Harriet Myers out of her nomination? She didn't even have the opportunity to come before the Judiciary Committee and tell her views on anything. The Conservatives said she isn't conservative enough and demanded the President withdraw her name. So what is so surprising about Democrats asking tough questions (which haven't been very tough at all) regarding actual case decisions, any document authored by Justice Alito and personal associations?

Mr. Graham keeps dredging up Justice Ginsberg and her hearing. Perhaps this is cynical but maybe there were 96 pro votes due to the fact that the majority of the Senator's constituents leaned closer to Ginsberg's views on legal precedent and that the administration that nominated her had a strong check with the opposite party being in control of the legislative branch of that time. Maybe the public and the Senate didn't feel like she represented a small faction of a very vocal minority.

It hurts to know that the average citizens of this country aren't concerned about these hearings, no matter what their views. As to my views, I am concerned about Justice Alito's past decisions that may impact my privacy and control, about sweeping Presidential powers that may defy the will of Congress, about the punishment of most vulnerable citizens, children and the mentally retarded, about one man one vote and mostly the balance of power which tips only in one direction with no check. This can be altered in upcoming elections if people actually vote.

This is the drama … the drama of our future freedoms.

As i see it, the problem with these hearings is that the senators have misunderstood their role in this process...whether you are liberal or conservative,elections serve as the people's choice in what kind of justices they expect based on the president's views...if there is an ethical or moral problem discovered during the hearings with a candidate, that is when the senators have a right and duty to reject a nominee...but just because he is conservative and a senator is liberal ( and visa-versa )doesn't mean they should hijack the hearings for partisan sniping...it's obvious in this case that the democrats are against him because of his juducial philosophy...well, the time for that argument was 2004 and they lost that election...if you want more activist judges then go win the 2008 election..but if Alito is shown to be of sound character then he deserves confirmation, period.

I am in much agreement with many of J Retiree's comments about Ted Kennedy...how can a man who is directly responsible for the death of a young lady ever question the morality of anyone else? Not only was he irresponsible for driving while drunk, he showed a lack of responsibility by leaving the scene and he has not suffered any legal consequences for his despicable acts. I bristle ever time he questions the intentions and morality of anyone - especially honorable people.

The programming executives should listen to you. You are correct, if I wanted to watch something else, I would watch something other than the live event. It is extrememly frustrating to try to watch a live event and have someone in their "wisdom" cut away to commentary or other updates. I hope that missing Mr. Graham's comment enlightens them.

I'm sure Brian was watching via blackberry or another wireless device and not the taxi cab radio.

With all the new gadgets on the market, Brian has to keep up via a taxicab radio when he is out and about (and he was damn lucky to find one listening to the hearings - in English!!)???

It would seem to me that a keen mind would remember his or her membership and activity in college. If they don't-who needs them on the Supreme Court?

Why is Brian sure his cab driver knows little about the confirmation process?

What we are seeing is the rabid, fanatical hatred that despicable Democrats such as Ted Kennedy have for courage, honor, and intellegence. Perhaps he is afraid that a judge of such fine character as Alito might have held him accountable for the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne and later episodes. Why in the name of God the people of Massachusetts keep electing him to represent their state just beats me. He and his ilk are a pathetic disgrace to the term "Senator".

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