Editor's note: Our friends at TypePad, who normally host this blog, have had trouble with their servers today and have been serving content from their last backup, from several days ago. So we have switched back to our internal publishing system for today's blog. We hope to be back to normal by Monday.

Dec. 16, 2005 | 4:45 p.m.

Is anybody out there?

Anchor & Managing Editor

This is kind of like broadcasting during a power outage: it's hard to tell if anyone will read this, since our blog has been down all day. First and foremost: our sincere apologies. We have come to treat the Internet like a public utility... our lives are predicated on computers... until it all crashes down around us.

Tonight's broadcast has a lot to do with domestic surveillance, sure to be the next hot domestic topic. Mr. Lehrer sat down with the President today and shed some new light on this during the interview. We have a number of great stories in the broadcast tonight... among them Mike Taibbi on an extraordinary New Yorker, and Richard Engel on some palpable changes in Iraq, where hopes are high that we truly could be seeing a new era. It would be nice to know that our fighting men and women would face less danger this holiday season.

So again, with apologies for today's outage: please join us for the broadcast tonight and have a good weekend.

Dec. 16, 2005 | 2 p.m. ET

Questions about questions (Lisa Green, Senior Producer, Broadcast Standards)

Image: Lisa Green
Virginia Sherwood  /  NBC
NBC UNIVERSAL EXECUTIVES -- Pictured: Lisa Green, Senior Producer, NBC News -- NBC Photo: Virginia Sherwood

Following Brian’s interview with President Bush, many of you asked whether any of his questions were submitted in advance -- and Brian told you in his blog post that, of course, they were not. That question took me by surprise, probably because of how well I know NBC News policy, which does not allow any interview subject, presidential or otherwise, to receive questions in advance. But it seems the blogosphere has wondered about journalists pre-clearing questions with the White House before, at least as far back as April 2004, when the WashingtonPost.com tried to dispel similar questions about the daily press briefing in this Live Chat. (Look for the second question, from a reader in Rochester, N.Y.) 

Are these suspicions evidence of a lack of trust in journalism, government, or both? I don’t know, but I hope the truth about the way we work will resolve them, once and for all.

Dec. 15, 2005 | 4:30 p.m.

Elections and levees (Campbell Brown, NBC Nightly News anchor, correspondent)

NBC News
NBC News' Campbell Brown

Major news on two fronts tonight... it's no surprise that much of our focus is on election day in Iraq... but we will also report on an important step forward for the city of New Orleans.

First Iraq... and good news to report: an election day with minimal violence. Tonight Richard Engel will wrap up the days events from Baghdad. Much of the focus is on turnout today... election officials say it looks like there was heavy turnout overall with as many as 11 million of Iraq's 15.5 million eligible voters casting ballots. And it appears there was strong turnout in the Sunni areas... a critical boost for any new government... after many Sunnis opted to boycott initial elections in January and the October referendum on the constitution. The turnout numbers are still fluid... and it will take weeks to count the ballots. But the process is already underway and the most important developments will unfold over the next few weeks. This new government will choose the leaders who will be directing Iraq and defining the country's relationship with the U-S and the rest of the world for the next four years. These are the leaders who will have the most to say about whether US troops stay or go.... or whether Iraq strengthens its ties to Iran. Also Jim Maceda will have more on reconstruction efforts... where progress is being made and where progress has been stymied. And David Gregory with reaction from the President who today called the vote a "major milestone" in establishing democracy in the Middle East.

On a different front... it is big news for the residents of New Orleans. For all the people who have been reluctant to return after Katrina... the message today from Mayor Ray Nagin was "Come home to New Orleans". The Bush administration has committed to a $3.1 billion plan to rebuild and strengthen the levee system. But today's news comes amid new reporting on who bears responsibility for the flaws in the levee systems upkeep. We'll have all the details. Brian is off tonight... but will be back in his chair tomorrow. Hope you will tune in.

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