Live From Studio 1A: NBC Becomes Part of the Story

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By allDAY

As you know by now, Cho Seung-Hui sent NBC News a package including 28 video clips, 43 photos and a 23-page written statement, apparently mailing it between the first and second shootings on Monday.

There was much discussion and debate here at NBC News before the decision was ultimately made to air some of the photos and videos last night.

This is how Matt and Meredith opened the show this morning at 7 a.m.:

LAUER: Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui was a person who spoke barely a word to those who knew him. But he had a lot to say in this chilling multimedia manifesto.

VIEIRA: On Wednesday, the NBC mailroom received a package sent via express mail from Virginia Tech. And as we said, it contained video files, photos and a rambling, angry written manifesto.

When we received the package, an alert mailroom employee noticed the return address information and flagged security. We immediately contacted law enforcement and waited until they released the information about it, before reporting it ourselves.

LAUER: This is an uncomfortable and unusual place to be. Obviously, at NBC News, we always want to cover the important stories of the day. And the massacre at Virginia Tech is one of the most disturbing and tragic stories any of us will ever cover.

But we are not used to becomign part of the story. And with this package, Cho Seung-Hui made us in some ways part of his story.

VIEIRA: The decision to air some of the images he sent to us -- the video clips and the photos -- and to discuss what was contained in that rambling and hate-filled manifesto, was not taken lightly, not made quickly. And we understand that this is going to be seen as devastating to many people who lost loved ones in this shooting.

In fact, I will tell you that we had planned to speak to some family members of victims this morning, but they cancelled their appearances because they were upset with NBC for airing the images.

LAUER: And, to be honest, there are some very big differences of opinion here within the news division as to whether we should be airing this at all.

But we have made this decision because by showing some of this material, perhaps it will help us understand or answer the question -- Why? Why did this happen?

To examine how a person who could say what he said and do what he did, fail to be taken off the streets prior to committing these murders.

But let me say that while we will show you some of what we received, it will be just a small percentage. Because to be honest, after you see just a bit, you will get the idea. We feel strongly that this is not video that we need to run in and endless loop. And so we will severely limit the amount of footage that you will see.