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.

Breaking news

I was sitting down to write today's post when Tim Russert called with a major piece of news out of Washington: Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota is hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital (which houses a superb trauma center) having suffered a stroke. Sen. Johnson is a young man, not quite yet 60, known to be in good shape. Given his political contacts with the South Dakota delegation, I called Tom Brokaw and shared the news and we all got working on it.  It goes without saying that our thoughts and prayers are with the senator and his family. That is first and foremost at this hour. There are also obvious political ramifications that play a potential role here: should the senator become incapacitated, the Republican Governor would appoint a successor under South Dakota law. That would put the Senate at 50-50 and tilt effective control to the Republicans under Vice President Cheney's role as tie-breaking vote. This is a big breaking story on so many levels, and we are all working it. Chip Reid is on it in Washington, and Tim Russert will be by my side on the air tonight here in New York. Right now on MSNBC, Bill Press is making a very important point: GWU Hospital has a world-class stroke unit and is full of top-flite professionals... that is what we should emphasize right now, until we learn more. We hope to have much more by airtime. (Editor's note: You can read the latest on Sen. Johnson's health here.)

Tim will also be with us tonight to debut our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll numbers -- which, while embargoed for release, reach new benchmarks in the President's approve/disapprove category and his handling of the war. And while this breaking news above sends the top of our broadcast into some flux, we'll also cover Iraq, Secretary Rumsfeld, President Bush's comments today, the search in Oregon (and the coming, collosally bad weather there), the front in Afghanistan, today's medical news, and our featured story about a shopping trend this holiday season.

So its back to work, back to the phones and we hope you will join us for our Wednesday night broadcast.

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COMMENTS

Don't you people want Bush to wait and hear from the Dodd, Kerry, Nelson study poop?
I've seen no "glee" from Republicans over Senator Johnson's illness. I have seen a bunch of cold hearted speculation, sick accusations, and conspiracy theories from the loony left.

Bush has had 4 years and 3000+ Americann lives to come up with a winning stratagy for Iraq, what makes anyone think he can now come up with one in a month. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld has got to be the worst disaster this country has ever had.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Senator and his family. I am disgusted at the glee I'm sensing from the "opposite" party. Has anyone thought to check the poor man for polonium?

You are all very naive about sen. Johnson stroke.
I do not trust the Communist..... I mean democrat party.

You are all very naive about sen. Johnson stroke.
I do not trust the Republicans.

Regarding Sen. Johnson, I pray for his speedy recovery and wish his family well.

To add to Chris, how about the 2007 hurricane season? Since per storm experts we're in a cycle of stronger hurricanes, we should not be spoiled by the fact that the US mainland got off easy in 2006.

Then, there's the long-overdue quake involving the New Madrid Fault system, which would affect a region not known for frequent quakes: The Midwest and South, including St. Louis and Memphis, but extending as far north as Chicago.

The last time major quakes hit this area was 1811-1812, when, due to the fact that it was sparsely settled, casualties and damage were minor. One of the quakes, however, was so big it caused the Mississippi to flow backwards. I saw the effects of such a quake some time ago on The Weather Channel's "It Could Happen Tomorrow." Were such a quake to occur today, with all of the cities and other built-up areas and power grids, communications systems and other infrastructure, it would probably result in a catastrophe of a greater magnitude than Katrina.

With regard to Senator Johnson's sudden attack, before we all begin to shudder at the prospect of a 50-50 Senate split, jumping to the aneurism/stroke/tumor scenario, Senator Johnson may be suffering from a far more benign condition: atypical migrains. My 23-year-old daughter experienced a sudden onset of slurred speech, followed by tingling and numbness in her right arm. I believe that Sen. Johnson's symptoms were the same. Luckily, her attending ER doc has a daughter who suffers from the same problem. All tests were negative, including the CT scan. Very scary, indeed, but far less dire than "the usual suspects". Let's hope that Senator Johnson's prognosis is as rosy as my daughter's.

2 Scenarios: Bush sends in 30,000 fighting troops within weeks. They wipe out the opposition and Iraq settles down and by next Fall progress is obvious.
(McCain - who supports the entire plan - becomes unbeatable for Fall, 2008.) Bush goes down in history as the man who stood up to Islamic fundamentalists.

Other scenario: Same plan but US troops suffer unacceptable casualties and by next Winter the Congress forces a withdrawl from Iraq. (McCain drops out and Democrats sweep all in 2008.) Bush is considered worst President in US history.

Dear NBC Nightly News,

I am appalled that you aired a portion of a speech today by Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who was apparently slurring his words as the result of a mild stroke and who is now in the hospital in a more serious condition, as you minutes ago reported in my living room in Colorado.

We realize the seriousness of this with the incoming democratic-lead Congress, but to have aired his voice in this manner is so inappropriate. We really like
Brian Williams, especially since his interview with President George Bush in New Orleans. We can only hope that he staves off this type of sensational
journalism. And as a journalist myself, I am particularly upset at such sensationalism and disrespect for the family. This story did not need this to be verified.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Chamois Andersen

Among my recommendations for more adequate municipal buildings, I've been calling for park ranger stations to have more robust facilities and equipment. A small recon. drone that can take off vertically was one of my recommendations for surveying areas after a disaster, looking for LOST PEOPLE, or looking for illegal poachers. It just seems more can be done at every front for safety and emergency assistance.


I'm not sure if your other readers are feeling it, but I'm just 'spent' on who controls what house right now. From what you guys were saying on election night, the congress was the major house to have IF you don't have the presidency. Now that the elections are over, I'd really like to see the media talk more about our nation's energy policy, global warming, and perhaps the overdue, 200-year, LA-area earthquake. The sky may not always be falling, but some natural disasters are more likely than others. Even if global warming never materializes, we are obviously unprepared for the disasters that do occur more often than city planners would care to admit.

It simply amazes me that here is a Senator close to dying from his stroke and all you media can think about and toss back and forth is what will this do to the Congressional Balance. It's obvious that human life is not as important to you as your version of the news. It really speaks a great deal of your compassion.

My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Johnson and his family. While I understand the political impact this may have and acknowledge that you expressed your concern to his family, I was angry that the political impact was the focus. I am extremely sensitive to issues like this because my father suffered a stroke two years ago. He passed away this summer. He struggled with his resulting condition and so did we - his family. It is traumatic when illness hits a loved one - it's a roller coaster for everyone. Nothing else matters except that Senator Johnson get better. And that his family help him and each other through this very difficult time. Best wishes to Senator Johnson for a full recovery.

Trauma and stroke (brain attack) treatments are two different entities with differing specialties involved. The nursing care for each is also a distinct specialization. The "top-flite professionals" you refer to include nurses - so please don't refer exclusively to physicians. Best wishes to Senator Johnson for a full recovery. This should be a wake-up call that treatment for stroke is most effective when rendered within 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms - the golden hour. That 46 million Americans aren't receiving any type of healthcare coverage and that another 75 million are underinsured is a compelling reason to advance universal healthcare. JAMA published a study that demonstrates that 50 million Americans under the age of 65 are spending more than 10% of their income on healthcare costs (Kaiser Network Daily Health Policy Report).

Relative to Middle East coverage: time to ramp up coverage of Saudi influence on Bush/Cheney and the Saudis' increasing discomfiture at US talk about engaging Syria and Iran in diplomatic efforts in the region. NBC is missing a large and important part of the picture in not covering the Sunni/Shia alliances throughout the entire region, their relationship to "Big Oil" and US interests, and the US oil field protection intiatives in Iraq.

Appreciate your weighing in via blog, Brian. NBC seems to be breaking this (there's nothing on Google News, for example), and your imprimatur behind the NBC team gives everyone on-line something to work with. Thanks especially to Chip Reid for holding the reigns on this dramatic story.

No matter what the political ramifications are, here's hoping the Senator pulls through. Thoughts & prayers are w/him and his family.

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