Happy Monday, everybody!
Welcome to our "Daily Briefing" for January 19, 2009. I am writing to you from our production trailer at 7th and Jefferson streets on the Mall.
The scene here the last few days has been unbelievable and the crowds at this hour are now "massive."
I have lived in this city ever since 1990, with the exception of two great years in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I have never seen anything quite like this. Everybody seems to be on cloud nine, everybody is smiling, strangers are chatting and embracing each other. And, it feels like every corner of the United States and the world has representatives amidst the throngs. Throughout the last few days, we've been asking people outside our studio to say their name on TV and tell us where they are from and the number of states and countries has left me floored.
Anyway, we will begin tonight's show with a look at how the President-elect spent his day.
In honor of the Martin Luther King holiday,President-elect Barack Obama urged Americans to devote part of this day to performing community service. Mr. Obama painted walls at a homeless teenager shelter on Capitol Hill and then spoke to students at a school who spent the day writing letters to U.S. troops.
Later, we will talk about the racial barrier that is being broken with Mr. Obama's swearing in tomorrow. The history of this moment and what it says about America's path as a nation has been difficult to put into words. If you are of a certain age, you remember segregation or even worse. Our nation has come a long way and we will try to tap into those complex and important emotions that are pouring out across our nation.
Also tonight, we will talk about the Obama effort to harness and leverage the excitement, energy, and optimism as he begins to govern just after 12 noon tomorrow. Some Obama staffers will be taking a van from the capitol to the White House in the early afternoon so they can jump right into work, even as the inaugural parade gets underway.
We will also show you our latest reporting on what the Obama administration is planning for its first 100 hours and first 100 days.
Also, Washington, D.C. has become "celebrity central." The list of stars in town include: Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Samuel Jackson, Tiger Woods, Sheryl Crow, Bono, Pete Seger, David Geffen, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Ben Affleck, Tom Hanks, and others. I stress the word "others" because I am not a celebrity watcher and wouldn't recognize half the names on a Hollywood celebrity list.
None the less, I'm advised this is the biggest collection of celebrities in D.C. ever. I believe it. Last night, I went to a party for David Geffen hosted by a journalism colleague. There were so many "A list" types from Hollywood and D.C., including members of Obama's Cabinet, that the place became absolutely jammed. You literally couldn't move or get in the door. At least, that was the case for Tom Hanks and Ben Affleck. They showed up and couldn't squeeze inside. So, they left. That's right. Yours truly got into the party that Tom Hanks and Ben Affleck tried and failed to attend.
Finally, if you've been watching the show you know that one of our favorite segments is the last one—called "Muckraker of the Day." Tonight, we are going to change it to "People of the Day." We will talk with the throng of people gathered outside our studio. It's been a really energetic and fun segment for the past two days, and I'm psyched to do it again tonight on "1600."
Quote of the day comes from Martin Luther King:
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
Thanks for watching "1600." Our show airs tonight at 6 p.m. on Capitol Hill, 5 p.m. in Oak Park, Illinois, 4 p.m. in Salt Lake City, and 3 p.m. in Hollywood.