Last night, while preparing dinner for the family, I decided I’d tune into the NBC Nightly News as a backdrop to the sound of me dicing onions. By the end of the broadcast, I was pretty convinced that the positioning of the new Brian Williams-helmed broadcast is this: to scare the beJesus out of people; viewers will be so scared they’ll miss news of some life-endangering terrorist threat/chemical/food, they’ll be afraid not to tune in night after night. First, there was a report about how two Stanford eggheads have published, in minute detail, how terrorists could contaminate the nation’s milk supply. Then the broadcast moved onto stories about the second case of Mad Cow in the U.S., and an interminable discussion about how Teflon—which it turns out is used in much more than frying pans—is made using a chemical that is a likely carcinogen. But why stop with extensive coverage of the scariest headlines of the day? Then it was time to move onto how easy it is for hackers to figure out people’s passwords, in a story that featured a computer programmer who himself had been duped by a bogus email purporting to be from PayPal that asked for some personal information. After simmering chicken vindaloo in our one Teflon-free skillet, I had to resist the urge to shutter myself in a dark closet, preferably one not filled with Gore-Tex jackets, which, as you may have guessed, also contain the Teflon-linked carcinogen.
—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor
Credit: Kevin Mazur/NBC