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.


This morning, about five miles outside of Roanoke, Va., I watched a Nissan pickup truck merge into traffic in front of us on the interstate. I noticed there was something written on the rear cab window.  When we got closer, I was able to read what it was -- just one word, written in white shoe polish on the glass:  WHY? 
None of the passing motorists had to ask what it pertained to.  And considering it was one word, written on the back of a truck in white liquid shoe polish, it spoke volumes.

Tonight, the massacre at Virginia Tech continues to dominate our news, and we will have some new reporting on the subject. (See below for more information.)

This was decision day at the Supreme Court -- and in a decision that millions of Americans will slowly take in (a decision court experts and scholars will study for years to come), the court issued its most important abortion ruling in years -- perhaps decades.

This was a staggeringly violent day in Baghdad.  Richard Engel will report on that.

Those stories will dominate our newscast tonight -- of course there is other news -- including the loss of Kitty Carlisle Hart.

We hope you can join us for the Wednesday broadcast of NBC Nightly News.

NBC News has indeed received what I would call a "multimedia manifesto" from the gunman.  We received it today, and immediately handed it over to Federal law enforcement authorities.  We are still going over our own copy -- its a lot of material -- we are talking with law enforcement, our own standards people -- and Pete Williams, our Justice Correspondent, will join me live on the broadcast to go through the material.

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Across America the nation mourns 32 students killed in unnecessary violence,
And doesn't bat an eye at 2/3rds of a million unnecessary Iraqi deaths resulting from this nation's pointless & counterproductive invasion of Iraq.

Shame on you America.
You are so insular.
Now we will reap what we have sown.

Is it any wonder there is hatred of America around the globe?

Cho's family should not be criticized or blamed for their son's actions. True, if they got help for him, this incident, this massacre and this tragedy could've been avoided. But if they are to blame, everyone else on this stupid planet should be blamed for this. Even though he is a murderer, I want to believe that it wasn't Cho Seung-hui that killed everyone but it was his insanity and society that made him to be what he was. After all, killers arent born, but something small gets them started. But this doesnt mean that what he did was right. So many people have lost their lives just so he could have the spotlight. I'm so sorry this happened, I can't believe what happened but i realize what has happened has happened, and we are now enduring the consequences...

Thank you for airing these videos to all, since this is indeed a societal tradgedy. This is the story of a man who had the courage to express the lack of empowerment he feels in a society that worships materialism: in the form of Mercedes, gold, dazzling personalities, and beautiful "hotties." This is a wake-up call to all to question the need for 3 (or 10) houses as we continue to hear statistics that 10% of college students have contemplated suicide. We have lost our very center of being and our compassion for our fellow human beings who we perceive as less. We must question: are we the callous ones?

I can't wait until the news media stops splashing the killers' mug everywhere. The killer doesn't deserve any more of our time and attention.

The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund:

Like any other news organization would have sat on the package? Yeah, right. And imagine the outrage if you hadn't aired it! The public would have cried "We have a RIGHT to know!" Its voyeurism at its worst - but we all do it. The fact that you probably got huge ratings and huge internet visit numbers speaks for itself. Now everyone feels guilty, so they're lambasting NBC.

I agree with NBC's decision to broadcast the gunman's videos and pictures. The two days directly after the event were so tough because we didn't understand why. Now we know and there is an odd sense of closure about him. I understand why the families are upset but did they not want answers too? I hope you don't suffer repercussions because of this decision; I believe NBC was correct. Now we have more insight and I'm all for insight.

Shame, shame on NBC for not doing the right thing and simply turning the Cho material over the the authorities and letting them handle/dispense it to the general public as they deemed appropriate. Once NBC aired the material, wrongly all other networks followed suit. They were equally wrong, but I place the majority of the blame squarely on the shoulders of NBC and its executives.

You played right into this madman's hands and have made him a martyr in the eyes of equally sick minded individuals (just as occurred after Coumbine). As well, you perpetrated more mmisery upon the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy.

I am simply apalled by all of you. What horrors do you plan to show us next?

Personally, I feel you owe the families and VT community an on-air apology for your callous disregard of how this would affect them.

STOP showing any parts of this now, no more, and DO apologize.

After having watched Nightly News yesterday and after reading some of both the pro and con responses to the broadcast I have come to my own conclusions.

NBC & Brian Williams, as the managing director, did what they had to do in releasing some of the multi-media manifesto, if only to recognize both the receipt of the material and the depth of the mental illness that affected Cho Seung-Hui. This has served to confirm the shooter was yet another in a luckily short list of deranged individuals that act out their despair in lieu of seeking help.

As an adult, I have decided that I no longer need to know any more about this individual. I have made the conscience decision to tune him out, on TV, radio, the internet and print. He deserves no more of my time.

As for the victims and their loved ones - my thoughts and prayers will be spent with them.

Cho's parents owe us nothing in terms of an interview or explanation. The only thing they owed was to their son -- to get him the help he had obviously needed for a long time. And they failed miserably in that regard.

Yesterday when I learned NBC had received a package from that killer, I quickly left a note here begging you not to air the contents.

That was never posted. How many others did you receive that you did not post?

I had honestly thought there might be a tiny glimmer of hope that the networks would take the high road, denying the man the forum he craved.

Do you not understand: He killed to gain his forum. He was rewarded exactly as he knew he would be.

Will you air the package of drivel from the next murderer? Or the one after that? When would you think it might make sense to stop?

It should have stopped yesterday.

I find it reprehensible that NBC News President Steve Capus chose to air those truly disturbing images sent by the Virginia Tech killer. Just one week ago mr Capus fired Don Imus and saying that NBC had to be more responsible for what was said on it's airways.

And last night he showed truly disturbing images and had commentary about the images in a time when the families and students truly affected by this tragedy REALLY needed some time and space to deal with it. Yet he chose to air it anyway.

I was offended by it being aired and I was not personally affected by the tragedy. I can't imagine how someone truly affected by it reacted at this so called news. And of course every other network followed suit and what in my opinion should have been looked at ONLY by police and university authorities and other experts in the field of psychology was EVERYWHERE.

At some time in the future maybe this could have been released in some context but in the immediate wake of the tragedy is just plain wrong.

So NBC needs to look in the mirror when standing on the moral soapbox of right and wrong in terms of what is appropriate to put on its airways.

What Imus said and has said throughout the years pales in comparison to the decision to air these photos and videos on TV at this point and this time.

I guess maybe that since it was sent ONLY to NBC a ratings boost was needed.

Shame on you.

I am very disappointed in NBC's decision to broadcast the Virginia Tech shooter's "multimedia manifesto". What transpired on Monday was a tragic event that has left the victims families and the Virginia Tech community reeling from their loss. The shooter was obviously a very troubled individual and although hindsight is always 20/20 it's heartbreaking to think that their was a possibility that the 32 deaths could have been prevented. What I find so discouraging is the choice, although it is newsworthy, to focus so much of the media spotlight on the shooter. Yes, he did something terrible, but I find it very concerning that so much attention has been focused on him. I was very rattled to see the photo after phot of him aiming a gun at the camera on the internet and tv last evening. That image was probably the last thing his victims' saw and now their families and the survivors get to experience that too? I was another network's homepage and the main headline is about the victims and celebrating their accomplishments. I find that headline to be more important.

To me, NBC News sets the standard for nightly network news and Brian Williams you are more than a worthy successor to the legacy of Brokaw, Jennings, and Rather. I do not understand the need to air the video that was aired last night on your broadcast. Unfortunately, I missed the news because I was in class myself. However, I did catch excerpts from my local news outlet's 11:00pm program. The Virginia Tech killer wanted his legacy and his thoughts presented to the nation as maybe some sort of explanation for what happened on Monday morning there. What service is this to the students, faculty and staff at Virginia Tech? How can there be any sanity found in the mind of someone so disturbed? In this era of YouTube and instant internet access to almost anything that happens in this world, why immortalize this person? That will happen regardless. To me, though, it seems that NBC News is validating this killer's need for attention by broadcasting his "suicide video letter". I think that it is news that this was sent to NBC but releasing it to the nation's living rooms seems more senational than journalistic. That being said, I will still watch NBC Nightly News every chance that I get and know that Brian and company will do everything they can to help Americans heal from yet another national tragedy.

In response to Paul in Georgia. I respect your opinion but wish to add this thought. I also am a mature responsible person. I don't jump to conspiracy theories and I assume you don't either. It is the immature, irresponsible, disturbed person that I worry about. I think NBC news could report this thoroughly without airing, for example, the picture of him holding two guns pointed at the audience! I worry that our constitutional rights are being overrun on a daily basis. But, the news doesn't show me coroners pictures because that would be in poor taste and I don't NEED to see them. It is the same with this murder's pictures and videos. I don't NEED to see them. The news medias job is to report the news. They are not charged with solving this crime.
They are not charged with the duty of psyo-analyzing this person either. They are charged with the responsibilty of reporting.

Boy! It sure is hard to please you people. From one side of your mouth you criticize the media for being too liberal with information - as being insensitive, but out of the other side of your mouth you criticize those who withhold information - as conspiraters. Thank you, media, for treating me with respect as an adult capable of managing emotion, not keeping me in the dark because you might hurt my feelings.

I am very troubled that we have not seen an interview either printed or anonymously from the parents of Cho. I am not at all convinced by the reports that the students "Should have known". Why? The parents have the true answers as to when this killers downward spiral started. College was only 4 years. There are many asian americans who are quiet and polite and have contributed many great things to our society and they are not killers. I just think that the parents owe it to the hundreds of love ones and friends to at least show us what the childhood of this man was like. The parents, wives, husbands, students etc..have nothing left but a rambling video and photos. Give them something to put to rest besides bodies. God knows if it was me I wouldn't want people to think that I just created a monster I would want to show a human face on this tragedy.

Stop focusing on Cho! Do not give him such public power! Instead, focus on the healing process and help support the students. Show mercy! Sensationalism feeds on itself and spawns copycats -- and it also feeds despair. ENOUGH!!

There seems to be so much outrage on this blog because NBC has chosen to air some of the material that was received from the shooter. With almost everyone in this country and many more around the world asking the question, "Why?", how could NBC have done any differently? What if Brian had announced that, yes, NBC received a packet from the shooter in which he, in his own words and through photos, and in great detail, is explaining why he did this horrible thing -- but you know what? We aren't going to share that with you.... I can't even begin to imagine the outrage that decision would have caused, with even more outraged viewers accusing NBC of a cover-up, trying to hide the truth, keeping the important facts to themselves, etc.

It is during the most horrible of times such as this one where we viewers of NBC Nightly News and of Brian have to trust the decisions that are made. I have no doubt that airing those snippets from that package was a difficult decision to make for those with the responsibility, and I know in my heart that Brian considered the pros and cons with great care, both as the outstanding journalist that he has proven himself to be, and, even more importantly, as the loving and adoring father he has revealed to us quite a few times right here on this blog.

Brian, you have once again done an excellent, excellent job by telling the horrors of this event to me in the kindest, most sensitive way possible considering the circumstances. I have visited the beautiful VT campus quite a few times in the past 25 or 30 years (what a gorgeous part of this country the Blacksburg area is!!!), and I believe that I have actually stood on or near the same spot where you stood during your reporting Monday night. I felt as if I have been standing right there with you on campus these past few days. I wish I could have been there this week so that I could wrap my arms around each and every one of the precious VT students. I have no doubt in my mind and in my heart that they WILL prevail. May God hold them all gently in the Palm of His Hand as they strive to recover from this horrible tragedy.

I am totally appalled that NBC News has chosen to broadcast the videos of a psychopath according to his wishes and thereby possibly encourage other disturbed individuals to attempt to gain infamy through similar or copycat acts. I find this to be irresponsible and particularly disrespectful to the families of the victims. It appears that ratings are more important to NBC than coverage that is considerate of public safety and respectful of the victims loved ones. You should be ashamed!!

I'm a follower of NBC News for years and I'm just shocked by the extreme attention u gave on this almost drove me to tears in should have double-checked this with the staff before putting this on air because the world is watching this and they'll harshly react to this material as u can see by the comments...however, i do appreciate your utmost effort in covering this national issue, but pls be very careful on what u air...I will still continue to watch NBC News...thanks...

Brian, How many times today did I hear that the extensive news coverage of Mr. Cho is EXACTLY what he wanted to get the attention he could not get in life? It was suggested that the lives of the deceased and injured should have been the most broadcasted news instead to prevent copy-cats. it's too late for that!
How I wished that you had not aired any of the contents of the envelope sent to you, especially the video and pictures of him holding the two guns. I can just imagine how many sick young people are out there getting very excited about all the coverage they could potentially get if they could just kill thirty three people to beat the record number of school shootings or maybe even fifty.

I am very disappointed that someone at NBC was not able to make the ethical decision not to fulfill this very sick boy's final wishes- his last hoorah.

Please everyone...stop and think. The gunman sent this to NBC. NBC gave it to the authorities. As a news organization NBC was obligated to present the information to the public. They showed restraint in not showing more than they did. This material answers the question, "Why?" NBC would have abdicated its responsibility if it had not discolsed this information.

I am so upset by your using the killer's material on your show tonight. I have watched Nightly News for years, but I had to walk away tonight. I am sick that you would have obliged the killer by using his material. Everyone else has expressed my feelings, so I only add mine as an explanation mark to all the other comments. Please do not put the horrendous material on the Today show. Please take it off the web. And please go back to telling us the stories of love, compassion and honor of the victims.

Dear Mr. Williams,

I am an Emergency Services Chaplain in New York State. I have a degree in Pastoral Counseling, am certified in Critical Incident Stress Management/Debriefing and Pastoral Crisis Intervention, and I have dealt with my share of trauma and its effects on emergency workers and civilians. I would like to comment on the interview you conducted with one of your reporters at the beginning of the Nightly New for 4/18/07.

From the top of your broadcast and in a particular interview you had with an NBC reporter broadcasting from Virginia, you [both] spoke about the “package” that was sent to NBC and how it was Cho’s chance, a statement of sorts, to continue victimizing Virginia Tech and the nation “From the grave.” If you believe that to be true, and I would draw the same conclusion, then it begs the question: WHY WOULD YOU EVEN BOTHER TO AIR AND SHOW THE CONTENTS???? Why would you even give the deranged thoughts of a depraved person the time of day, let the authorities sort it out. IF you view the contents as a means to further the victimization and assault which has already traumatized thousands of people, how, in good conscience can you, your producers, or NBC even DARE to release it?

You, meaning media in general, and you, Mr. Williams, this evening in particular, so often say one thing or intimate that there are consequences of your own reporting and broadcasts and yet you seem to take no action to adjust or rectify such discrepancies. Tonight’s comments and broadcast were a perfect example. As I have already asked: WHY? You express concern that the contents of this package will likely be a means of continuing, “FROM THE GRAVE” Cho’s assault, yet you show it anyway! What purpose does it server other that to drive the knife deeper into the wound?

Some hard choices need to be made. Either you have genuine concern over the potential for broadcasts such as these to cause additional harm to your viewers or you don’t. But you and all the media cannot continue to be facilitators, near co-conspirators, in the victimization of this country and insist that it’s “news” we cannot live without. You shouldn’t and we can! The American public doesn’t NEED to know every gory detail, of every story, for the sake of sensationalizing your broadcasts. Not to mention the fact that the more events like this are sensationalized, the more those who may have the same instability in their lives may see the same actions as a means of finally “becoming somebody.” I for one, and I can think of 32 other people, who would rather have never known Cho’s name! And would very much prefer not to know any others’.

Just because it boosts ratings, it sells newspapers, or it increases subscriptions, doesn’t mean that it should be said, shown, or published. Often it’s absolutely unnecessary and sometimes it’s just plain WRONG! Look up “news” in the dictionary: I don’t think it says anything about re-producing or re-broadcasting the threats and ravings of a highly disturbed man!

As a concerned person I would simply ask and hope that one day our news media would be willing to ask, with true honesty and integrity: Is this really news? Is this information going to inform our viewers and built up our country? Can it not just suffice to say that a tragic and horrifying assault took place on a college campus and many people, 32 too many, died?

Please, please, take the videos of Cho down. We don't need to see Cho, or hear Cho, or turn him into a dark counter-culture hero. I've taught some 4,000 college students, and believe me, many live on the outer edges, just as isolated and just as violent as Cho. Take him down and keep him down, for the sake of a country and a world in need of peace.

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