The Daily Nightly from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

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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.

Nonstop news

To illustrate how much we have to impart during our allotted half hour tonight, here is a glimpse of just the non-first-block items vying for time in the broadcast: An update on the condition of Senator Johnson, new climate figures and findings, the Malibu fires, Mark McGwire (and Cal Ripken), a possible New Orleans curfew, the death of a prominent animator, the bottom falling out of the oil market, and Steve Jobs' latest invention that is supposed to combine and condense all our electronic needs (and presumably all of our food, water and breathable oxygen) into a very expensive Altoids box.

At the top of the broadcast tonight (as of the end of our editorial meeting a few minutes ago), will be some combination of the following: Timeline predictions on an influx of U.S. soldiers and Marines, along with a preview of other points in the President's speech, the violence today on an awful stretch of Haifa Street in Baghdad (where every day is a bad day), and the ongoing Special Forces air strikes in Somalia. The last item has more impact when put differently: Over the last 24 hours, the United States' war on terrorism has opened up an "African front." The operation used one of the most deadly and impressive aircraft in our arsenal... one I've flown on... the AC-130 "Spectre" gunship. It is old and slow by modern aviation standards (it is propeller-driven) but then again, speed and appearances aren't important. It is the aviation equivalent of a battlefield full of weapons -- and in some cases, before those in the target zone hear the prop noise, a number of fierce and lethal weapons have already hit them. It has the fighting force of several platoons arrayed at various "stations" along the fuselage and under the wings.  You don't want to find yourself on the business end of one of these. For all its size and power, it is also capable of landing on a relatively short landing strip. Considering this mission didn't officially exist 20 hours ago, information (after-action and continuing action) has been hard to come by, but we'll report what we know.

On the subject of the President's Wednesday night speech, I've talked to several White House folks over the last 12 hours or so, and some guidance (other than what's already been published in the Journal, Times, Post and elsewhere) is starting to emerge. One official said today that without this proposed course of action, "the mass killings would be unimaginable" in Iraq.

All of the items above are in some flux -- we've already done some format-shifting since we broke from the meeting -- so story order may go down to the wire tonight, and I'll try as best I can to set the table concerning all the ground we have to cover (and I'll try to mix a few more metaphors) at the very top of the broadcast.

IT'S ABOUT YOU
New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, whose retirement announcement earlier this season, it has been argued, made for a huge media and team distraction, is walking away from the sport after a spectacular season, and has retired from football at the age of 31, part of an elaborate plan he has laid out for his life going forward. In a departure from modesty, he told a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York: "I'll be missed." Barber has announced his intention to "become a news anchor." Later this afternoon, I will announce my intention to "join the New York Giants backfield."

WIKI-WHAT?
A great cartoon in last week's New Yorker: Man at computer keyboard, woman stands in doorway. He says to her, "I just feel fortunate to live in a world with so much disinformation at my fingertips."

THE BIG BOX
Among loyal readers of the Sunday New York Times Style section (which is by all indications still figuring out just who they want their reading audience to be), the featured wedding each week is called the "Big Box." This is mostly an apt graphic-based description, as it's big and in a box. It generally seems to run about 800-1,200 words and is accompanied by artsy photography of the happy couple.  At least one blog, "Veiled Conceit," regularly takes apart the style the page is written in, say nothing of the happy couples enjoying their nuptials (and who among us hasn't enjoyed a nuptial?). This past week featured the wedding of another lovely couple, and writing that some thought could have been sent over to the Times by the editorial staff of the Onion. In my experience, brides in the Big Box have some common traits:

They are invariably "more at home in a pair of combat boots than they are in high heels." They are ALWAYS described as "spontaneous." 

While all of their friends constantly urge them to "have more fun," none is "looking for a relationship"... instead, a relationship "finds them."

The brides-to-be are a "constant blur of activity" and are apt to "kayak down the Hudson at Midnight on New Year's Eve." 

Many of the men are in passionless relationships until they are hit squarely on the forehead by the club of love, in the form of the aforementioned combat-boot wearing free-spirited woman.

Weddings are always on a bluff, a dune or a "sweeping lawn," and are usually officiated either by an Enormously Powerful Federal Judge who's a friend of the family or a member of the online ministry community with names like "The New Life Church of the Free Spirit."  Participants seldom wear shoes.

I digress. Back to this week's Big Box. The first few paragraphs are worth repeating here:

It's as difficult to categorize Colleen Saidman, an owner of Yoga Shanti, a papaya-color studio in Sag Harbor, N.Y., as it is to hold a headstand for the duration of the Beatles song "Let It Be," a challenge often presented in the classes she teaches.

To begin, Ms. Saidman, who is also a model, is fearless, especially when it comes to wearing orange, diving into the cold ocean, laughing loudly, going barefoot or making radical changes in her life.

In her packed classes she tiptoes between the mats, making adjustments and dabbing rose oil on the foreheads of students. She has been known to startle them with poems about death."

It gets better a few paragraphs later when she meets Rodney Yee, something of a celebrity in the Yoga world, who we're told "is meticulous about anatomy and alignment." They find themselves in a crowded hot tub after a day of posing at a Yoga conference in Nashville. Rodney recounts their "coming together":

She put her thumb on my forehead, right on the third eye, and literally I felt something I'd never felt before.

It goes on.

Still, they didn't want to break up their marriages, which they said were not unhappy.

Oh well. The author of the Big Box wedding for many years has been Lois Smith Brady, a wonderful woman whom I once met when she needed a quote while covering the wedding of a former NBC co-worker. Ms. Brady earned her salary this week -- the weddings that result in disintegrated marriages and wreckage left behind are a journalistic challenge: Trying to write a romantic, positive and compelling story while knowing both principals leave something of a wake behind them. Week after week, Ms. Brady turns in some of the most entertaining (and challenging) writing in the paper, and did so again this past Sunday. And that, Dear Reader, is life in the Big Box.  Full disclosure: My wife can't understand why I spend valuable time reading this stuff.  I should point out in my own defense that I read Style only after the A Section, Metro, Week in Review, Business, Book Review, Magazine and Automobiles. It's dessert on paper, really.

Back to reality, and the news. We'll put all of this in some logical order; our folks will do some more reporting, and as always we will hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.

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COMMENTS

Raytheon is a Massachusetts company. Is someone trying to protect local jobs?

HELLO, KAREN FROM MAYBERRY. I, TOO, LOOK FORWARD TO W'S SPEECH TONIGHT. PERHAPS HE WILL EXPLAIN HOW HE WAS ABLE TO SAFELY HIDE OUT IN THE TEXAS ANG DURING THE VIETNAM WAR AND NOW CAN, WITH IMPUNITY, SEND NATIONAL GUARDSMAN TO SUFFER AND DIE IN IRAQ. THE TWIN HALLMARKS OF THE BUSH PRESIDENCY: LIES AND COWARDICE!

Ahahahaha! Fantastic commentary on the Big Box.

Joan, the NYT eradicated the separate regional weekly sections and consolidated them. That's why you are getting NY and NJ news in with the CT section.

Brian,
Thanks for educating and entertaining me. Add me to your list of fans. I wouldn't miss a day of your (and the rest of the crew's) blog! Dottie

Lois Smith Brady, who I agree, is the best big box writer, moved away a few years ago. She only occasionally does the big box now--it seems to generally be written by a rotating group of stringers.

Great entry! On the subject of the president's speech...I suspect I am not alone in being conflicted. I do subscribe to the theory that "You break it, you own it," and we did...so we do. To walk away with Iraq such a mess would seem irresponsible and unwise. And yet I cannot imagine asking one more soldier to die for that mess. Our soldiers have already served -- many of them -- more time there than they were promised. As Engel showed us the other night, our soldiers are often standing between warring factions. How can we win at that? What I would like to hear is what diplomatic efforts are underway. What about the Study Group's recommendations in that area? Time to think a bit outside of the Pandora's Box, and see if we can effect meaningful change another way.

Joan, right you are about those NY and NJ stories sneaking into the Connecticut section. What's that about?

Brian-

What have you been eating for breakfast recently?!!

Do you speed read?!!

Will you replace my computer monitor if I ruined it by spraying it with the "tasty beverage" I had just sipped when I read you are becoming a Giant running back?!!

Be sure to floss after those power breakfasts you are ingesting! For those outside the NY area who don't get that connection, the humor on the blog is just the half of it. There is this ongoing thing between Brian and WNBC local anchors about a possible not-flossing/Alzheimer's link that is hilarious. Our anchor is in rare form these days. I don't think he needs to worry about dementia--he's sharp as a tack!

On TVNewser today:

--The title on the press release says it all: "It's a Mega Monumental Moment When TV's Biggest Pundits Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly Appear on Each Other's Respective Shows on Thursday, January 18." Should be a hoot! Almost as big a hoot as reading this blog has been of late! Comments included!

It's good to laugh a bit because most depressing:

--MSNBC has announced it will air the first Democratic presidential candidate debate which will be held in South Carolina on APRIL 26. Fox will carry the first GOP debate in MAY. I remember Brian being moderator of the first Democratic presidential debate for the election of 2004. I believe the debate took place, aired on CNBC, in September 2003. April vs. September is a 5 month difference--5 months earlier! So the 2008 election season will span--let me count my fingers--oops--I'm onto my toes--18+ MONTHS! Oh, the pols are REALLY pushing it! Don't they realize there will be push back from the electorate?!! As Brian says: "Deep breaths everyone." But I'm afraid we'll need more than deep breaths to survive 18 months of political ads!

Here, here, Jack from Scottsdale AZ! Well put!

2006 warmest on record and 2007 is likely to be even worse. Anyone remember the 120-degree temp in South Dakota of all places last year? How about the number of heat-related power outages and reports of actual roadways MELTING? ...and that's just here in the U.S. Global warming is affecting the Arctic and Greenland even more. Last year they noted a 1500% increase in the rate the arctic Ice was melting. In thirty years there might not even be a polar cap... Once the reflective ice is gone, warming will happen even faster because open seawater absorbs 90% more of the suns rays.

Just out of curiosity Brian, was your wedding twenty years ago featured in "The Big Box?"

This is quickly becoming my end-of-the-day must read. Thanks much, Mr. Williams.

Tiki is an engaging and entertaining interviewer, much like yourself. He might provide some competition for ya!

Interesting that you say there was so much news to jam into the newscast, but not much you listed actually made it. Instead, we were forced to watch a reporter doing what amounted to a free advertisment for Apple's new product and an exact copy of a story Nightly did on Sunday about Kate Middleton. There was nothing new in that story!

Gentlemen: I would like to know how much Ratheon is paying and who in the Pentagon is receiving these checks, in order to prevent the Israeli RPG defense system from being purchased by the U.S. to protect the lives of our troops in Iraq?

This is a travesty and heads should roll over this!!

Brian Williams, I think I'm falling in love with you.

That was downright hilarious. Thanks for the afternoon giggles.

When my husband sees me reading the Style section, his inevitable comment is, "Enjoying the sporting section?"

The Wedding (and Celebration!) pages are best approached as a parlor game. Around the Sunday breakfast table, the ringleader should first cover all details of a selected announcement save the headline names and photo. Based on these two criteria alone, participants are required to guess the details of the wedding (Jewish? Universal Life? Martha's Vineyard? F Scarsdale?), the residence and respective careers of barethe happy couple (Park Slope author and graphic artist? Greenwich hedge fund manager and HR director? East Side idle rich?), and any other salient details, such as how the couple met (on Old Campus at the 10th reunion 80s dance?). Much fun guaranteed to ensue - the announcements are just predictable enough to entertain those gathered without boring anyone to death.

Interesting that the Bush administration is launching air strikes on suspected al Qaeda sites in Somalia. Isn't that the same stragegy previously used by Clinton in Sudan and Afghanistan that is now endlessly riduculed by conservatives?

One wonders why we could not pull the ground troops out of Iraq and then sit back and use the Air Force to bomb trouble spots in support of the Iraqi government. Of course this requires that there be an actual Iraqi government with real power, instead of people like al Maliki who have no power over the militias.

Good luck trying out for the Giants, Brian! (If nothing else you'd be a superb spokesman for the players.)

Brian,
You could easily sub for Conan some night.
Your fan,
Bill Kelly

That is simply hilarious on the weddings, Brian. You captured it perfectly, while not trashing the person who has to write these.

First of all, the Mark McGwire Hall of Fame issue was a "No Brainer"...he doesn't deserve it. Second...lots of people could care less about President Bush's speech...not I. I admire him and am behind him. He has tried to help the innocent Iraqi people, the others don't see the need for help...and probably never will. And lastly, I too read the wedding sections of the paper, but obviously mine are not as exciting as yours...in our small town of Mayberry!

The best description I have heard concerning President Bush's answers on the Iraq war was from Jon Stewart. Jon said it is similar to a 5th grader trying to answer questions about a book he did not read.

Brian, thanks as always for trying in an ever changing day to keep us all updated. We appricate what you do!

Thanks for a laugh-out-loud (literally!) moment on the Big Box.

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Brian Williams: 'NYT' Styles Section Is Like "Dessert on Paper" In his highly entertaining Daily Nightly blog (from which Katie Couric could learn a thing or two about a thing...

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