All it takes is a scratchy, poor-quality, unconfirmed, rambling piece of audio tape aired on an Arab-language cable network half a world away to dredge up those feelings of not so long ago. In today's case it was the simple, passive act of hearing someone say the United States will be attacked, sitting in our offices just a few short miles from what is still a yawning hole in the ground, where those buildings once stood, and where all those people worked. In the years since then, it has been given easy-to-understand names like "the new normal" and easy-to-understand color coding, but this kind of talk is still new to us -- and no matter how blase we all are about yet another audiotape from a tyrant using a cave as a recording studio, it makes you think. We'll begin the broadcast with a dissection of this latest message, and the latest on the search for its sender.
Also tonight, the latest on the abducted journalist in Iraq (and a plea to her captors from her mother), former FEMA Director Michael Brown breaks his silence on Katrina, and the mission to Pluto, which finally got off the ground today. We'll update you when it nears arrival in nine years, but until then, think of this: by the time most Americans go to bed tonight, this tiny, fast-moving spacecraft will already have passed the moon.
Tonight we will begin a series of reports that I must admit come from questions arising from the prominent coverage lately of those who have suffered strokes. It turns out stroke is the No. 3 killer in the U.S. and the No. 1 reason for disability. The stories of public figures ranging from Dick Clark to Ariel Sharon have given stroke much media attention of late, and tonight we'll also highlight a Public Service Announcement that is hugely powerful, mostly because it was cast against type. Perhaps you've seen it: a menacing, tightly-framed shot of Don Rickles in a serious and sinister role. The tag line is "I... am a stroke." Because it's him and because of the topic, it's effective television -- and I think a perfect way to start our coverage of the topic tonight.
We have a crowded broadcast tonight -- so much so, Executive Producer John Reiss wondered aloud earlier if EXTRA, the syndicated program that follows Nightly News on WNBC-TV here in New York, would mind terribly if we asked to run over by a few minutes. Luckily for all of us, John was kidding. Once again, we'll try to fit it all in. We hope you can join us.