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.

WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE ON THE AIR

We try to be very careful in choosing the street, neighborhood or building that serves as the backdrop for our coverage, especially on a night like this one, considering the size of the live viewing audience and the level of interest. We are sensitive to charges that media portrayals of New Orleans are all alike, and we are always actively looking for "mixed progress" neighborhoods where there is work underway, and where people have decided to put down stakes and stay. We are in such a neighborhood tonight -- but the view changes (as it does all over this region) seemingly every few feet. The odor on the street is staggering (they are STILL finding bodies at the one-year mark) and the drive into this neighborhood is depressing. A police officer remarked, "this neighborhood's gone." But not everyone. Tonight we'll try to highlight the good (recovery) with the bad (retreat) while surrounded by the ubiquitous destruction that the waters caused.

The most powerful recurring image in some parts of town is the MP's patrolling the streets in Humvees. The National Guard has fitted their desert-camouflage Hummers with revolving blue lights (to highlight their policing function and increase their visibility at night), but the sight of a vehicle that we associate with warfare presents an aggressive picture. Yesterday we drove past a Hummer that had pulled over a civilian in a traffic stop. Yet another sat idling in a drugstore parking lot. The men we've seen are in fatigues, most with "MP" armbands... and attitudes vary. In some neighborhoods, they ARE the police, and while it is certainly not the Anbar Province, it is not without its dangers and risks. It is hot and difficult work for these citizen soldiers, all of whom left lives and families at home.

Tonight we will take stock of this region one year after Katrina -- we'll actually kick off two nights from here, following the same theme. We'll hear from some of the NBC News on-air team that viewers came to associate with the horrors here -- we'll look at what went wrong, we'll talk about the issue of race and where the national discussion stands. We will also cover the other major stories before us: the Tropical Storm that is likely to return to hurricane status before long, and the crash of the commuter jet in Lexington, Ky. We will try to get at the question of what this experienced air crew was doing on the shorter of the two runways. The short answer obviously is: it can happen. It evidently came close to happening 12 years ago, at the same airport and with a similar aircraft. The stories of the individual souls lost... are heartbreaking.

For now, we hope to see you from New Orleans tonight. And please join me for our hour-long NBC News special, at 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 Central tonight. It's our look back at the first five days of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. We'll look for you then.

Read more from Brian Williams 2006, NBC's Gulf Coast recovery files

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COMMENTS

It is irresponsible, unprofessional, and just poor journalism to dignify the ridiculous rumor that whites blew up the levees during Katrina in order to flood black neighborhoods. Only the most ignorant paranoiacs would subscribe to such a theory, but to even ask our mayor questions about the dumbest rumor of the past 40 years in our city dignifies the idiocy and gives the rumor legs it does not deserve. (Spike Lee also gave the rumor some life in his movie but he made no pretense of objectivity--one expects more from a journalist).

The flood in New Orleans discriminated not at all, destroying the homes of whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc. Have you looked at a map of the city? The Ninth Ward is but a portion of the city that flooded, by no means the largest portion at that. Are you aware that the levee at the Ninth Ward was only one of several which breached? Has anyone suggested that the 17th Street Canal was dynamited? It breached and flooded a relatively affluent, largely white neighborhood.

And if the Ninth Ward levee was dynamited, here's another news flash--the resultant flood also inundated the mostly white neighboring parish of St. Bernard!

Helping to spread rumors like this exacerbates poor race relations in our country--and I do mean "country"--because people elsewhere must come away from such stories thinking black folks in New Orleans must be really stupid to believe their levees were purposely destroyed.

Mr. Williams, you seem sympathetic to our collective plight in New Orleans post-Katrina. We who live here (my family goes back 150 years in New Orleans) need and appreciate all the national attention we can get so our government will not forget us. We'll need help for years if we're to get back on our feet. But please, please consider how stories such as this--stories without a whit of factual support or evidence--diminish us in the eyes of the country and will hamper our recovery.

Bush came to town and spoke, ate, and got misty-eyed as he hugged a few folks. I would be more impressed if he had brought his (ranch) work clothes with him, cancelled Crawford, and settled down to a working vacation in New Orleans. I guess he will have to wait until next year, since it is time to get back to Washington.

Mr. Williams, (NBC nightly news)

I realize that N.O., LA has suffered a terrible tragedy and I feel for those people that were injured, displaced from their homes and/or killed by the storm or by the ensuing flood waters afterwards. I truly do feel for these people. Mr. Williams you seem to be forgetting one thing: New Orleans survived!! I am a Mississippi National Guard Soldier, I spent 45 days on active duty providing food and clothing to MY people on the Gulf Coast of MS. I was stationed in a Walmart parking lot in Waveland, MS (grond Zero) during the days just after the storm. Every minute I spent down there, I spent talking to surrviors about their plight and even crying with them. There were no white or black people down there. There were only friends and neighbors hurting and needing someone to be strong and show them that we care. And yes sir, Mississippi is still a state the last time I checked and you and the rest of the world seem to keep trying to shut us up, by always talking about New Orleans. Be a true American and stop trying to drum up a of bunch trouble, because sir, in my eys you are no better than that racist mayor of New Orleans

written 8-28-06 Dear Mr. Williams:

I spent a wonderful 10 days in New Orleans around 1998 and saw how different it was from any other American city, filled with music and beauty and warmth. Then came Katrina and I watched for all the news I could find, because one good friend has lived there for many years and because I had loved the city so, when I visited.

What I saw was just awful, but I did not know that it was only a fraction of the truth. My professional association, the American Psychological Assn., held its annual convention in New Orleans, August 10-13. I went early and stayed late, so [ had time not only to attend my meetings but also to see the worst-hit parts of the city. As you know, that means an awful LOT of the city. Fortunately, my friend made out RELATIVELY well, but she was hardly unscathed. I never thought I would see a US city with MILES of empty blocks, but in the Lower Ninth the only sign that any had ever lived on many of those blocks was two-foot-high foundations, supporting nothing at all. Then there were more miles of damaged houses with crosses on them in black paint and numbers indicating the date on which they were searched, by whom, and how many bodies had been found.

Often, I told people that I am from Manhattan, so I know what it is like to have something horrible happen to your city. Everyone to whom I said that reached out to hug me, because they knew that in some way we couid understand better than most. Of course, in either city, it will never end for those who lost someone they loved, but for those who did not, surely the city's pain was and is far worse in New Orleans. I have lived in Manhattan for 76 years and love it deeply, but I hurt more for New Orleans, because it was not the natural disaster that destroyed so much, but our incompetent government.

I shall certainly be watching your interview with Mr. Bush---the network and he, himself, are fortunate that you are a gentleman!

Thank you very much.

.

Dear Brian
How can a Government be so good at helping people around the world and so LOUSY here at home? It appears that we need a new Government Officals.

This is the first time I have felt the need to post a comment but I watched the news with Brian Williams last night and was so terribly moved. Right after Katrina I had a dream that I was stuck in the Superbowl. What I liked most about the report was that people still have hope. That is something no one else can give them--they have to find it themselves and they have. People in Mississippi and Louisiana have suffered tremendously but they have hope. I am ashamed of our government's response to this disaster. I have never objected to paying taxes--I think that's the price I need to pay to live in a civilized society, but I want it to be well spent.

Thank you for the special last night on Dateline. Brian, you are a human being and should make no apologies for showing your humanity in these situations. You speak not only for those you report on but also for the rest of us watching. Although it is not always pleasant for us to watch these scenes it is necessary. We all seem to have adult attention deficient. If the subject goes beyond 15 minutes we are tired of it and want to move on. I venture to say those who scream loudest about not wanting to see the stories about Katrina would sing a different toon if they were the people in the region still needing help. I applaud you and your staff for also doing stories that is uplifting. We all need to see that there is hope.

Will NBC repeat last night's special. I was in route and someone tape it for me. Unfortunatley it didn't record.....I thought NBC and Brain Williams did excellent coverage last yr ans was very much looking foraward to this show..

Re the anonymous poster who said:

"This Katrina coverage is just too much...how about covering something else for a change? You've been covering this story non-stop for a year now. Enough is enough."

What color is the air on his/her planet (which we now know can't be Pluto, which is no longer a planet)?

Where was he/she about 2 weeks ago when that whack job, yesterday proved false by DNA, came out of the woodwork to claim he'd killed JonBenet Ramsey--and got so much air time for about a week there was no time for Katrina coverage?

Where was he/she approximately 6 weeks ago when that Mideast mess was going on, when coverage of that took up the lion's share of newscasts and there was no time for Katrina coverage?

Where was he/she at those times when there was so much news about Korea, immigration, and other Weapons of Mass Distraction that no time was left for Katrina coverage?

He/she obviously has been watching NBC Nightly in a parallel universe.

I am extremely grateful for NBC Nightly's Katrina coverage which has been consistent--and excellent--ever since last Thursday when it started. But prior to that day, since coverage was so sparse for 2-3 months, I did have my complaints. I'm worried that when the anniversary has passed and you go back to New York, you'll give in to the demands of people like that anonymous poster, and go back to providing sparse Katrina coverage in spite of the fact that there's still much going on in the storm zone.

Please...please..please don't listen to the negative posters. Don't forget Katrina. Don't abandon the suffering people left in her wake.

I watched your coverage of Katrina. I was so shocked that there was no mention of the Mississippi gulf coast. Yes, I feel sorry for all those who suffered in the City of New Orleans but what about all the people along the entire Mississippi gulf coast. Have you forgoten that the east side of the storm is where most of the damage occured. The levee system is what happened to New Orleans!! I am proud of the people of Mississippi for the way they have survived the total lack of coverage and caring by the press. It seems only ABC has had coverage from Mississppi's own Robin Roberts. How sad!!!

Brian,
Thank you for presenting the program on Katrina tonight. I will never forget the faces of these people. It was shocking to watch their pain and suffering, hopelessly waiting for simple needs like water and food. It was also shocking to see how completely out of touch our government is with reality. This country quickly goes into action and immediately sends humanitarian aid to foreign countries when disasters strike, like the tsunami, and help arrives in an organized, timely manner. So why did we neglect to take care of and protect our own fellow Americans? Who knows why? May God bless you and your tireless crew.

Too bad MSNBC doesn't provide a "netcast" for the 8PM special on Katrina/Gulf Coast. I was out so I did not get to see it.

I know about natural disasters. It was Friday afternoon, May 31, 1985 when a set of tornados hit north-western Pennsylvania. Due to budget cuts from the U.S. gov't there was no advance warning like what we expect today. Those twisters destroyed a great deal of property, including a good chunk of the town of Albion. There was a huge swath of destruction and downed trees on top of German Hill in Forest County. The twisters scatterd debris everywhere. The last time I checked on German Hill (about 6 or so years ago) there was still junk hanging in the trees.

We did not suffer the catastrophic loss of life and the epic scale of evacuation or damage that the Gulf Coast did from Katrina. Still, even after 19 years people are shaken whenever there is a severe storm warning or a Civil Defense test on radio or TV.

Dear Brian,

What is the role of media in peacebuilding? Apart from only highlighting the events how media can be act as medium of social change?

The NBC's reporting on Katrina and New Orleans address the above question. By reporting the event its also try to show the social unbalance race in US. No poltical twist but only human angle, which is demanded from the media for pecaebuilding.
Great Brian, your program inspire us to continue our work in your direction.

Brian -
Thanks again for your diligence in keeping our greatest American tragedy alive in the news. I realize that so many Americans are tired of the repeated exposure to our plight, and I feel their fatigue. We who relive the outcome of Katrina every day here in New Orleans are so, so very tired too. What has happened here is so much more than it first presents, and so much a values statement about us, our country, and our government. If the Bush administration had any compunction for this catastrophe alone, we might find some real guidance and aid from Washington. Obviously, Mr. Bush sees no reason to be contrite. As it is now, the policy seems to be 'no policy', right from our Mayor through the State and Federal government levels; let the outcome fall where it will, and those who cannot control their destiny will go away. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, and shame on us, America.

mr. williams:
i am watching you katrina show and i have one comment.
if you are doing the news- don't bring a soundtrack. it cheapens the words and images.
the words and images speak for themselves- as do you.
no music is needed.

What would be different if we had a leader that understood the challenges we face together as a nation. A nation of civilized, educated, thinking, caring people. I sat here watching and listening to Brian tonight and I envision a fireplace behind him, laying it on the line telling us what is wrong and how we are going to make it right, a page from history, or is it the future? Brian that letter you sent as a lad shines a light, on the way it should be, the way we can make it, if we just get a good lead horse and a good team. Little boys can dream big and every once in awhile the dream comes true. Brian you and the entire crew have done an excellent job not just on tonights presentation but throughout the entire year. You mention that voices cast to deaf ears, now our heard. Yes, things have changed, a little and are changing more but we have a long journey ahead. Please take enormus pride, each and everyone of those who brave the elements and the live fire and the grueling hours producing and editing to tell it like it is. Definitly raising the bar for us all. Excellent work people. The tears rolled yet again tonight and I cant help thinking Lady Liberty standing proudly and solemnly in the harbor of our nation, is also weeping.

Wow, it still appears that in almost every news commentary about Katrina, only the city of New Orleans was hit, and only the poor black people suffered losses. In case NBC didn't realise, the entire coast of Mississippi was destroyed by Katrina and New Orleans was destroyed by a faulty levee system. In both areas, blacks and whites died and suffered losses yet somehow it is a race issue and that only poor blacks were the ones who suffered. If blame is to be placed, it should start at the local level. Nagin should have evacuated the city and done so in a timely manner, Katrina did not just appear in the Gulf, and the leves did not break until a few days later. The governor should have acted when she saw that Nagin didn't realize the potential danger and force his hand to begin evacuating immediately. The old saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" comes to mind. Because of their incompetance people (black and white)lost lives. FEMA is catching the brunt of the heat because Nagin and the Governor of Louisiana were incompetant and started pointing fingers to the federal governement for not bailing them out. Had the local government done their job, the loss of life would have been significantly less. Its amazing to see that the entire coast of Mississippi was wiped out, yet you dont hear the mayors and governer screaming about how the federal government let them down. Mississippi is building back their coast, one business and home at a time. Its easier and more productive to rebuild than to just point fingers at who is to blame.

Mr. Williams, thank you for the report that aired at 8:00. Please continue to remind us, the people of the US, that our government is supposed to be for the people and that was sadly ignored.

My uncle was a Catholic priest who served in New Orleans for over 40 years, until his death in 1995. I grew up hearing the stories of the inequities faced by the black people of the city. He loved the people of New Orleans and, if he had been alive, he would have been in the Superdome with those whom he felt privledged to serve.

I do not understand how a born-again Christian president does not seem to recall the words of Christ in the New Testament:"Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto Me." There is no question that this disaster was race/class based. Those who need the most, get the least. Billions of American tax dollars are being spent to bring democracy to a country that doesn't want it and whose people hate us for trying to force it on them. How many people would still be homeless in New Orleans if that money had been spent to rebuild the city.

Please keep reminding us that this government abandoned the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and that there is no reason to believe that other poor regions of the country would enjoy a better fate.

I am not sure Nantucket would fare better; it is part of Massachusetts.

Dear Brian:

I have been to the New Orleans region twice since Hurricane Katrina, and it literally breaks my heart to see what has happened to a city that was once so full of life. When I saw on the news what was happening in New Orleans, Gulfport, and Biloxi I couldn't believe the devastation. When I saw the news footage of people needing food and water I literally cried for them. I had my chance to go and help those in New Orleans. I helped serve over 150,000 meals the week of Thanksgiving 2005. Our group met people from all walks of life and cultures. They had nothing and were thankful to get a hot meal, bottles of water, and bags of ice. I can't even begin to count how many cars would come through the Calvary Baptist Church in Algiers to recieve what ever we had to offer. It made me appreciate what I have here in the Midwest. I went back over spring break in March and helped gut out a home of a wonderful African-American gentleman. He was so happy that we drove all the way from Joplin, MO just to help him gut his house. When we left he was planning on rebuilding and still called New Orleans home. I know that there is a lot of political garbage that goes on that shouldn't. But whatever happened to people helping people?? I was thrilled and humbled to be able to go to New Orleans and help in any way that I could. And I am ready to go back if the call ever came that a group was packing up to go. And for those of you who are tired of hearing about the New Orleans area, have you been there to see what those people went through?!?!?! Have you offered to give a week of your time away from your family to help someone else in need???? Those of you who continue to complain about the coverage of this story need to take a long hard look at your own lives, what if it had been you and your family?? Would you want to be forgotten?

The only thing we've learned from the aftermath of Katrina is that our government's silence was deafening. This suppose to be America, not a third world country were silence and neglect are typical. I'm ashamed and appalled at the way my fellow Americans were treated. It is quite apparent the poor citizens of New Orleans were overlooked, neglected and totally disounted as human beings. It's time for a big change whether we like it or not.


Brian:
There is a simple reason why relief supplies did not make reach storm victims stranded at the convention center: on Wendesday, August 31st, FEMA ordered a blockade of relief supplies to drive people out of New Orleans. The Red Cross FAQ for September 2, 2005 makes that clear:
http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html

I personally was stopped by authorities when I attempted to bring supplies to the center. See my commentary on this experience and the additional evidence of an official relief blockade at: http://www.southerninstitute.info/commentaries/

Dear Brian, I appreciate your continued coverage of our perilous situation here in New Orleans. Your story was very good. However, I am upset to see that you, like Spike Lee in his documentary, focused on the belief of the black people that the levees were blown. There contention is that it was done to flood the poor black neighborhoods in an effort to save the rich white ones. No one has mentioned that one of the hardest hit areas by flood waters in New Orleans was the Lakeview area. This was, perhaps, one of the wealthiest white neighborhoods in the metro area. As a resident of this area, I can tell you that I had eight and a half feet of water in my home and lost virtually every posession I had obtained in my 34 years of life. How is this relavent to a race issue in this disaster? And, what about St. Bernard? While not the wealthiest residents, most where white. This is the area where the Murphy Oil Spill took place. Some of the homes in this area had over twenty feet of water. The young white woman you interviewed tonight with the baby....she was right. Her words echo in my mind...."it's not about black people or white people, rich or poor....IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE." I know from experience the loss....try losing 50K worth of property and getting 15K of assistance from FEMA because you were told you didn't need flood insurance. Having family members die during this storm....I had two. I still hear my 2 year old daughter saying, "mommy, go home...." how do you explain to a 2 year old that you have no home to go to? And yes, we were safely evacuated to a friend's home in Baton Rouge. Don't get me wrong. I feel for every one of the people at the superdome and convention center. But, should I be any less considered a victim of this disaster because I had the wearwithall to get myself out of the city??? I pray you will follow up on this aspect of this story. I know many who would give you as much perspective on this as you care to hear. Thanks for the opportunity to write to you. I hope you get a chance to read this.

Mr. Williams: I sincerely THANK YOU and your staff for the Katrina coverage during the storm and one year later,which is not our fault, the networks are still reporting the war in Iraq, which is not our fault, 911 which is not our fault either. You guys had the best coverage by far, so if people don't want to hear or read about about it than there is nothing wrong with not reading it in print or turing it off from hearing it on the radio or watching it on TV!

I wanted to see the special at 8 this evening, but my mom is moving by the end of the month so I've been up to my eyeballs in boxes. Consequently, I totally forgot about it until just now. New Orleans pain wasn't just Louisiana's pain; it was the entire country's pain. Thank you for taking us back to see how far we've come and how far we need to go.

Once again the pain of Katrina victims hit home. I remain aghast, ashamed and in disbelief, still, at the total lack of Government response to these people in dire need. Thank you for this broadcast. Keep reminding ALL of us how sadly our elected officials have functioned in this crisis. And, where IS the money? God Bless us all.

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