June 24, 2005 | 2:32 p.m. EDT

Brian Williams, Anchor & Managing Editor
I am filing today's blog entry while en route to Flushing Meadows, Queens where tonight's broadcast will originate.  It's the scene of what the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham is calling his "final crusade"... though having spent time with him this week (for an interview we will air tonight), I wouldn't count him out.  He's mulling over his 13th visit to see the Queen of England in London in the fall. While I'm not a doctor, my money is on the 86-year-old preacher.

We are doing the broadcast from our remote location tonight (to my knowledge, the first time one of the network evening newscasts has originated from a Billy Graham event) to mark the occasion, and to take a look at his life, warts and all. As you'll see tonight, one of our interview subjects, an author, journalist and editor, calls Graham one of the four "lions" of the latter half of the last century. The other three, in his estimation: Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Judging by the e-mails I'm already receiving based on advance word that our broadcast would feature Rev. Graham, he's the subject of great interest to say the least, as I hope our broadcast will be.

We will also cover the tragic loss of American Marines today in Iraq, including three women lost in a convoy attack.  We will look at how Iraq figured into the president's day, and Tom Brokaw will join us in the form of a report he's prepared on the war on terrorism... specifically the Saudi Arabian angle.

We will also have a special look at one of the great American cities and why it's so special. I'll leave it at that.

We hope you'll join us... and have a great weekend.

June 24, 2005 | 10:04 a.m. EDT

Editor's Note: Rev. Billy Graham has spent a lifetime preaching all over the world. Now, the 86-year-old preacher brings his crusade to New York. How will this evangelist play in the Big Apple? As Brian blogged earlier in the week, he talked to the Rev. Graham on Wednesday. We'll show you that interview tonight.

June 23, 2005 | 6:23 p.m. EDT

And the lead is... (Brian Williams)

In the end, an hour before air, we chose to lead with the Supreme Court decision, and I hope my words on the subject, in introducing my colleague Pete "no relation that we know of" Williams, will suffice in explaining why.

June 23, 2005 | 4:09 p.m. EDT

Debating the rundown (Brian Williams)

One of the many great things about working in a newsroom is that boredom is seldom a factor. Following what just transpired at our afternoon editorial meeting, in fact, I voiced sympathy for all those locked in tedious cubicle jobs across this country. We are indeed lucky to be where things are happening and at the intersection of current events and history.

During our editorial meeting (which I will politely call "a boisterous and vigorous exchange of views between colleagues) we debated the competing merits of our two lead story candidates: the changing administration position on the insurgency in Iraq, and today's Supreme Court decision on private property.

The news from Washington: Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, today went against the view of Vice President Dick Cheney that the insurgency was in its "last throes ." At the same time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld invoked both Washington and Lincoln in making his point that American forces have lost past battles while winning past wars.

The court, on the other hand, has hit a populist hot-button: Making it much easier for localities and municipalities to "take" private property . For example, if a city believes that a shopping mall will amount to a net economic improvement, those with homes on the future building site had better make other plans. This area of case law (known by its lofty official name, "eminent domain") has been "creeping along" in past years, as producer Sharon Hoffman pointed out at our meeting. Producer Barbara Raab made a strong argument that this story pits big business against "the little guy" in America and will strike a chord when Americans come to understand the impact of the decision. Executive Producer John Reiss went on record as saying that in terms of news value and national policy, the war in Iraq should trump the court case on tonight's broadcast. He pointedly used the words "for now"...that was just before 3:00 p.m. EDT, and I might add: the managing editor has yet to weigh in, and is weighing the options for tonight. I will say it was exactly the kind of debate that should happen in a newsroom. It was measured, it was among colleagues who respect each other, and it had to do with stories that impact many of us. It's also some measure of how seriously we take our responsibility. One reminder: the debate was not over whether to cover these stories, merely which one should come first in the broadcast. So, as some would say: Developing...

In other news, in this post- 9/11 era when words have taken on new meaning, Karl Rove is in hot water for some words he used in describing Democrats , and one Democratic senator in particular: Dick Durbin of Illinois. Mr. Rove will make a videotaped appearance on our broadcast tonight as a result.

We'll also have a report on new and charitable attitudes on the part of some Baby Boomers, and the lessons learned in Neshoba County, Miss., after today's sentencing of the former KKK leader convicted of manslaughter in the death of three civil rights workers in 1964 .

For many reasons, it will be an interesting evening to tune in and join us.

June 23, 2005 | 6:30 a.m. EDT

Tonight's promoted story on Nightly News

More and more seasoned professionals are steering their careers off the fast lane and into community service. Hear from one woman who traded a six-figure salary for one that touches her heart more and her pocketbook less. Baby boomers, giving back... call it the "we" generation.

June 22, 2005 | 4:10 p.m. EDT

Billy Graham's last crusade (Brian Williams)

I spent part of the morning in Queens, New York with the Rev. Billy Graham, who at age 87 is preparing for what will probably be his last crusade, beginning Friday evening here in New York. While he is recovering from a broken hip and pelvis, and living with prostate cancer, I found him to be remarkably sharp and in very good cheer. He is a towering figure in modern American history (our four camera crew members, all NBC News veterans and good friends, all agreed Rev. Graham has a strong, palpable personal "presence") having met and counseled 10 U.S. presidents... and has appeared in-person in front of more people than any other single human alive today. He is also, I am happy to report, a kind and thoroughly decent man, who always goes out of his way to say he watches our broadcast each night. Our interview with Dr. Graham will air this coming Friday evening, as part of a special report on his impact on the latter half of the last century.

On this evening's broadcast, we'll look at the White House "retreat" on the subject of Social Security... specifically, the President's "personal account" proposal. David Gregory will have that, and a brief preview of what could be a huge day in the life of the U.S. Supreme Court next Monday, if predictions come true concerning the retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. There is a superb page one story in this morning's Chicago Tribune on the subject that could very well drive the coverage of this topic for the next several days.

We have an extraordinary story from Martin Fletcher in Tel Aviv about a failed suicide bomber... the first time we've ever seen video tape of the face of a would-be murderer, thwarted by a mechanical glitch... a young woman who will now live with the memory of coming so close to meeting her maker, and sending other innocent people to theirs (Watch the video) .

We'll have a number of other stories of interest by airtime, and we hope you'll join us.

June 22, 2005 | 7:27 a.m. EDT

Tonight's promoted story on Nightly News

Doctors have developed a laser technique to zap varicose veins out of your life forever. So why are so many patients still having the more painful, more dangerous surgery? Our special series "The Future of Medicine" continues.  If you've missed either of our stories so far this week, read or watch part I and part II .

June 21, 2005 | 4:30 p.m. EDT

Relief in Utah, justice in Mississippi (Brian Williams)

Today, during our afternoon editorial meeting, I was summoned to the studio down the hall where we did an NBC News Special Report on the discovery of 11-year-old Brennan Hawkins . Brennan is a Boy Scout, lost in the Utah mountains since Friday, and while a press conference with the sheriff has just concluded as I write this, it may well turn out that this young man was paying attention during what little survival training Boy Scouts receive at that age. Whatever the story eventually, many people have been following this story and will cheer his safe return to his family, after he is cared for at a Salt Lake City hospital. His story will be among those we'll cover here tonight.

Also in this evening's broadcast: Echoes of the 1960s on two different fronts: The manslaughter verdict in Philadelphia, Miss. in the case of the three murdered civil rights workers , and the visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai to the White House... a landmark in our post-Vietnam war years. A number of the other elements in the broadcast tonight are in flux because of the late afternoon breaking story... so for now, we'll have to leave it at that and hope, as we do each night, that you'll join us for the real thing.

June 21, 2005 | 8:10 a.m. EDT

"The Future of Medicine"

That's what we're calling our series this week, reported by Chief Science Correspondent Robert Bazell.  Part one on Monday looked at how medical schools use patients to teach their students the skills of the trade .  Tonight, meet a woman who was struggling with a brain tumor, until one doctor's amazing breakthrough — surgery without incision. Find out why her story is a glimpse into medicine's future.

As part of the series, MSNBC.com's health editor interviewed Robert Bazell.  You can read that here And you can read Newsweek magazine's special report on "The Future of Medicine" here.

June 20, 2005 | 3:43 p.m. EDT

Perspective on Iraq (Brian Williams)

One of the things we fear the most in our newsroom (especially those of us who have traveled to Iraq and have friends working there) is that the coverage of the insurgency and the death toll could become somehow generic in nature or presentation... that the viewing audience, especially those without a personal tie to the conflict, will tune out over time. It is a constant danger in an increasingly insular-seeming United States: A conflict we can't all identify with, half a world away, where the pictures all seem to look the same. The reality, of course, is that every American has a stake in the future of Iraq, in the ongoing death toll and in the health and well-being of our forces over there... each one having volunteered for duty. Having said that, we will begin our broadcast again tonight with the news from Iraq, and the awful outburst of violence over the past few days, much of it aimed at Iraqi police. It all takes place against the backdrop of an increasingly vocal debate here over the future course of action for American forces, and some interesting comments on "Meet the Press" yesterday by Senator John McCain.

We'll also look at where the insurgents are coming from, and will hear from some of Saddam Hussein's former prison guards . Foreign policy will be front and center in the well of the U.S. Senate this afternoon, as the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador comes up for a critical vote.

There was hopeful news out of an Alzheimer's conference in Washington today , and tonight we'll try to separate fact from fiction. We'll look at the most recent case of identity and credit record mishandling and other stories that make up the news this Monday night.

We also want to hear your thoughts. We'll be answering some viewer e-mails in this space in the future, perhaps beginning as early as this week. We appreciate all comments and read each e-mail that comes in. You can get in touch with us using the form below.

As usual, we hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.

June 20, 2005 | 11:55 a.m. EDT

Tonight's promoted story on Nightly News

All this week, we're reporting a special series with Newsweek magazine called "The Future of Medicine." Monday, that future is robots ... with symptoms. They can simulate injury, illness, even childbirth. But don't call them dummies. They're a vital aid for students. Can they also improve the skills of veteran doctors?

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