The Daily Nightly from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

About this blog

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.


To those e-mailers questioning our coverage of the bird flu: please know that two Bush administration Cabinet secretaries asked to come here and brief our staff. It was chilling. They requested the time with us (and our colleagues at other networks) because, as they put it: in the event of an outbreak, television news would be a vital and primary source of public information. In their view, our role would be to tell people about available social services, and to instruct our viewers in the treatment of flu patients at home. There is no way to predict if this is a scare or if we are preparing for a panedmic. But because the possibility itself is so deadly serious, we have a responsibility to do our part. And we will keep covering the preparations and the progression of the illness.

We have a ton of material tonight (back in familiar surroundings) and I hope you can join us.

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This must have hit the room hard. I understand the respect a newsroom must give to the leadership in our counrty, but this story must have had a splitting effect on the journalists that make the news for us every night.

Most could probably see right into the plot, straight through to the climax and end of this story, as soon as the officials entered the building.
Others, a wait and see. Some, questionable agreement. But not you.

You knew what they were in your conferance room for. You knew why they were sent. Somehow I can see your top story announcement.

"The president and his staff unleash a flurry of mis-information every month, but today, they give you scare tactic number 127, bird flu."

When I drive to you and drop off paperwork for a story, it's propaganda, or advertiseing. When you go to them, it's journalism.


What I know about the Avian influenza virus (bird flu) comes from studying it and looking at the fact sheets from the CDC website. I think the media should do their own research including talking to experts from the CDC and others throughout the globe that have first hand experience with handling it.

Our Govenment hasn't been too proactive on this virus and I have a hard time believing it becoming a Pandemic (check your spelling of Panedmic). Fact is there have been several avian outbreaks in the US poultry flocks since February 2004 and they are documented visa-vi the CDC.

There are specific guidelines that the CDC outlines in terms of Influenza Pandemic Preparedness including the Response Task Force, created in May 2005 by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC does an excellent job of scoping this subject and I hope your team takes an educated and prudent approach to this subject.

Regarding the Nightly News' Rumsfeld speech coverage:

I am floored by your failure to cover the most important part of whole event - when Rumsfeld directly contradicted statements he had made pre-war about the certainty of the existence and location of Saddam's WMD arsenal....

Today Rumsfeld clearly said he never made the remarks that the former CIA agent quoted him as saying (which Rumsfeld unquestionably did – on one of NBC’s rival networks).

Isn't it more important to show one of the most powerful figures in the government denying his prior claims about the central reasons for taking our country to war? Come on – how can you consider this quality journalism?

It almost seems to me that Mary Matalin (or some other Republican attack artist) is in your editorial meetings negotiating what will be shown. Although you did report on the event, you chose to air the most favorable clips for the Administration. Instead of showing the Sec. of Def. denying having made his previous justification for war, you show “hecklers” disrespectfully interrupting Rumsfled and being booed by a pro-Bush proud. You also air Rumsfeld’s heartfelt response where he sounds hurt by the “heckler’s” accusations of lying. You aired nothing that was based on facts. The clips were all of just back and forth banter (with the exception of the lines about the non existent Al Qaeda/Iraq ties – which you did not further analyze anyway). So in essence you chose to show some protesters that come off as marginalized and radical, yet completely swept under the rug Rumsfeld’s blatant and patent denial of the truth (his previously incorrect assertion that he knew precisely where Saddam’s WMD’s were).

Why are you covering for this Administration’s false (perhaps intentionally) justifications for this war? Has the media capitulation toward power, in particular the Bush Administration, become so overwhelming that you won’t even mention when they blatantly deny their previous quotes. It’s unbelievable.

Why is it that NBC played Clinton’s lying statement – “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” – over and over again, yet won’t hold these leaders accountable for their justifications for the war? Could it be that lying about sex is more important to the health of our nation than lying us into war? Did reporting about the lies over sex produce better ratings with less viewer uproar?

Maybe it’s all just NBC’s liberal bias…

I guess I will stay up to watch The Daily Show and Colbert to see what really happened in the news.

Thanks for reading this.

PS – Also very interesting how you named Congressman Kennedy as a Democrat, yet failed to mention Duke Cunningham’s party affiliation (Republican – for anyone reading this). I guess it’s that liberal bias flaring again.

PPS – Here’s a video of the Rumsfeld’s speech confrontation since NBC only showed the radical heckler segments…..

Thats an important point. As a news organization responsible to the public, isnt the interviewer the one that requests an interview? When an agent calls Leno to push a release thats BUISNESS and the interview is conducted and accepted in that context. A news medium covering NEWS pertinent to public concern, should it not seek its own perspective. Is it journalisim to be fed by the fed? "Nobody knows." Well we all no what is happening on our block, with PEOPLE, real people struggling to survive RIGHT NOW here in our back yard and front as well as across the pond. Facevalue, it doesnt smell sweet, factually it malodorous. No matter which way its viewed its skewed. Yes, we know we have people that are going to try to hurt us, and they have, but doing a hitchcock raindance is not productive and reinforces wild therory of influence. Can we put the Rolex's away, better yet donate them and break out the Timexes, roll up the sleeves and do some real work. Is it turkey time already?

I enjoy what NBC does nightly. But the thing is, I can go to, or any number of blogs, or other news sites, to get the exact story you are coming out with at 6:30 every day. I know pretty much everything about the stories before you broadcast. So what is my incentive to watch the news?
My incentive is not flashy graphics. My incentive is not a change in format, or the kicker at the end. My incentive to choose NBC over any number of different outlets depends on why NBC is different. What can NBC tell me that nobody else can?
Just because your graphics are different, or your styles are unique, or the format is more viewer-friendly does not draw me away from other stations. Tell me something I haven't heard from cnn, local news, or other sources I can read daily before NBC.
I dont mean to be incindary other than to light a fire under the seats of your assignment staff. There are a hundred stories that you can present every day that can make your news unique. The news hole may be just over ten minutes, but you can certainly fill it with something more interesting in the B-block.

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