Behind the Scenes

Something very unusual happened Monday in the “DaySide” studio, though you all didn't get to see it because it happened off-camera:

While we were pre-empted by the Pentagon (search) briefing, I chatted with the studio audience about the state of affairs in Iraq (search). Usually when I bring this up, people are optimistic and strongly in favor of staying the course. Not today. For the first time, I saw a lot of people wavering — mainly because they say they're not getting much information about what's REALLY going on over in Iraq. They blame the media —and rightly so — for only showing the bombings and other bad news without the balance of positive developments. But they also blame the Bush administration (search) for "not keeping them in the loop". A number of people (who I think would label themselves Republicans) said the president is not talking to them enough about what's happening now in Iraq and what it will truly take to stabilize that country so our military can come home.

So here's my question for all of you: Was what I saw and heard with the audience today a fluke? Or does it represent what others of you are thinking right now? I'm asking because Tuesday night, the president will take to the airwaves to discuss Iraq with the American public, and I'd like to sample your opinions. Please drop me an e-mail at:

For Tuesday's show, we're working on new information in the Natalee Holloway (search) case. There's also a story we're researching about a priest in Staten Island, New York: Rev. Michael Cichon, pastor of the St.Joseph/St. Thomas Catholic Church, is booting hundreds of little kids out of religious ed classes because their families aren't attending Mass (search) at least once a month. Apparently, Rev. Cichon used the bar codes on each family's donation envelopes to track their attendance; if it was less than once a month, he kicked their 6 and 7-year-old kids out of Catholic ed classes and told them not to re-apply till next spring. Rev. Cichon does not deny doing so; he says he did so because he believes Mass is an essential component of the Catholic faith.

So what do you think about that? Did the pastor do the right thing, or go overboard? Send me an e-mail at the above address.

See you all Tuesday—

Watch "DaySide with Linda Vester" weekdays at 1 p.m. ET

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