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.

March Madness sans basketball

It's March Madness on the East Coast, and I'm not talking about basketball. It is the return of winter, after a week of spring-time temperatures for those of us here in New York.  The forecast is for up to two feet of snow in some places, but the real headache is travel.  Hundreds of flights have been cancelled today because of the snowstorms. JetBlue preemptively cancelled many of its flights to try to head off a repeat of their February mess when passengers were stuck on runways for hours. We will keep an eye on the storm and the travel problems and update you tonight.

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How the news is shaping up

Today we are keeping our eye on developments on Capitol Hill. As I write, the Senate is voting on three Iraq resolutions. The  most controversial is offered by Democrats and sets a timeline or "goal" for withdrawing most troops by March, 2008. It failed by a close vote moments ago. We will keep watching and have the details tonight on today's other votes.

In other news, we will have a full report on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaida suspect who claims responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks. According to Pentagon documents, he says he also beheaded American journalist Daniel Pearl. He is admitting involvement in more than 30 plots or attacks, but is he telling the full truth?

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Wednesday's top stories

If you asked the producers of Nightly News (and we did) how many occasionally rely on sleeping pills, far more than a few (try 99%) would say they indulge. A lot of us don't think it is indulgence, but rather necessity. So today's news about some of the most popular sleeping pills brought all of us to attention. The FDA is calling for new warnings for 13 different prescription sleeping aids -- Ambien and Lunesta among them. The big risk -- engaging in potentially harmful behavior like "sleep-driving" while on the drugs, and then having no memory of the experience. There is a lot more to this and we will have a full wrap up for you tonight, along with some other big health news involving heart attacks and a potential shortage of cancer doctors.

From Washington tonight, Pete Williams will have more on the fallout over the firing of the federal prosecutors and what seems to be an evolving explanation from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Roger O'Neil will look at an effort underway to get all of us to switch from traditional light bulbs to more environmentally friendly ones. And Bob Faw has a fascinating piece tonight about a recently discovered new world of microscopic marine life. Scientists are looking at whether this world could help us develop new antibiotics or even new energy sources.

We will see you tonight.

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In the mix this Monday

It is the latest shoe to drop. The Army's top medical officer quit today, or more accurately, was forced to quit. The fallout over the scandal at Walter Reed shows no signs of letting up and there could be more bad news for the Army before the day is out. Late today we are expecting a report from the Inspector General. It's a wide review that looks at the dramatic increase in the number of soldiers being cared for at the facility -- a hospital overwhelmed by casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll have the latest on the report and the change in leadership. Related to this, Bob Bazell has a piece tonight about the growing number of reported cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the long waiting lists now for treatment at VA hospitals around the country.

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Waiting and watching

By the time this is posted, the situation may well have entirely changed. It has been that kind of day. When our correspondents got word that the execution of Saddam Hussein was imminent, our network kicked into high gear... everyone is essentially on standby. That was many hours ago. And it may be many hours from now before we have any sense of when the execution will take place.

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The No. 1 issue for Bush

It is issue No. 1 for the President right now: a new strategy for Iraq. But is the President any closer to making a decision on just what that strategy should be? After a meeting today with his top national security advisors, the President said he needs still more input. Much of the reporting suggests the President is leaning toward a surge in the number of American forces, as many as 30,000 additional troops whose mission would be to secure Baghdad and Anbar. But top White House officials say Mr. Bush is not ready to make his case to the American people just yet. Kelly O'Donnell is in Crawford, Texas, with the President and will have more for us tonight.

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Tragedy Down Under

Just a few weeks ago, I was on vacation swimming in the Pacific ocean. In the water just a  few feet from shore, and a few feet from me, was a stingray. I shouted to some of the kids on the beach to come and look. One couple grabbed a camera. But none of us thought for a second that this could be a deadly animal. So I was truly stunned this morning to hear how Steve Irwin had died. Most people know him as television's "Crocodile Hunter." The 44-year-old animal lover and wildlife preservationist was shooting a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef when a stingray struck him in the chest and pierced his heart.  Australia's prime minister said today it is a huge loss for his country. We will have all the details tonight.

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Friday's lineup

Tonight the top of the broadcast will focus on two stories. One domestic and one foreign -- the announcement today of big cuts in production by Ford Motor Co.; and Hezbollah handing out bags of cash to war victims in Southern Lebanon. They are stories that on the surface seem unrelated, yet are inextricably linked (see Tom Friedman's column today in The New York Times for the best explanation).

First to Detroit. Ford says it is cutting production by 21 percent or 168,000 vehicles. That puts production at its lowest level in more than 20 years. Ford has been struggling, with year-to-date sales down nearly 10 percent over last year. The Ford brass say they are not happy about the cuts but have no choice. The main reason? You probably guessed it -- high gas prices. Ford is taking a real hit on gas guzzling trucks and SUVs. Chief Financial Correspondent Anne Thompson will have all the details for us tonight.

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Thursday's rundown

If you have been checking the Internet, listening to the radio or watching cable news, then you already know that prosecutors are treating this arrest in connection with the JonBenet Ramsey case with caution... urging the public, as AP reports, not to "jump to conclusions." As we reported earlier, a school teacher is in custody in Thailand and says that he accidentally killed the girl. But now some are suggesting that parts of the story just don't add up. The suspect spoke to reporters in what seemed to be a highly unusual perp walk/press conference. We recognize there is enormous interest in the story and we are covering it from all angles tonight.

But there is other news to report beyond developments in the Ramsey case. And important news at that. Richard Engel is in Southern Lebanon where the Lebanese army arrived to take positions today even though its mandate is still unclear. The Lebanese army apparently will not be disarming Hezbollah and there is still confusion about what countries will participate in the U.N. peacekeeping force.

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High anxiety in the sky

A few changes to tell you about since the Early Nightly this morning. Pete Williams has shifted gears given the breaking news a bit ago about United Flight 923 from the U.K. Still a lot we don't know, but here is what we do: Fighter jets were scrambled and diverted the London-Washington, D.C. flight to Boston. The pilot had declared an emergency based on the behavior of a passenger. The concern involved a 59-year-old American woman who was returning home from an overseas visit. There were some earlier media reports suggesting she was carrying a screwdriver or an al-Qaida-related. But now several federal officials are telling us NOT to put much stock in those reports. She did apparently have matches, Pete reports, which are not banned. She may also have been carrying hand cream (a violation of the new rules). But bottom line... so far it appears to be a panic attack of some sort rather than a real threat... but again, given recent events, the reaction may well have been appropriate. Other passengers on the flight are being interviewed now by the FBI in Boston. They are hoping to make it to D.C. by tonight. Quite a detour for them and they will arrive at their final destinations many hours later than expected. It demonstrates how much anxiety there is to go around right now. Normally this is a story we may not give a lot of attention to, but given the current environment and how federal officials reacted to it, it is a story that now warrants our attention. We will aim to have more clarity for you tonight. See you in a bit.

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