In this year of record-shattering weather, may I suggest the five most dangerous news alerts waiting for you out there? Hurricane and flood watches are serious, sure, but these five alerts warn you of something even more dangerous. When you hear them, take immediate cover:
1. "In Breaking News..." ~ A surefire tip what follows will be something terrifying, but in the long run actually trivial. More smoke then fire. I can hear it now: "Fishermen on crew of Santa Maria report giant serpents off Azores. Ship's captain refuses to lay anchor and investigate, saying he has bigger fish to fry. Leaving historic serpent question unanswered!"
2. "Scientists report..." ~ Usually this refers to some university research which may someday have historic importance. But right now all you're about to get is a scoop-minded reporter's flash version. As in: "Controversial scientist Galilei Galileo claims sun suddenly stuck in the sky. Vatican officials demand retraction. News at ten!"
3. "Doctors have found..." ~ This lead-in is guaranteed to be a breathless correction of the last correction of the previous year's breathless discovery. For example: "Doctors at world famous hospital find aspirin is good for patients who can tolerate aspirin, but coffee drinkers may find caffeine mixed with aspirin is actually Excedrin. Meanwhile Excedrin has just been forced to close all its plants in the Midwest. This report has been brought to you by the makers of Tylenol!"
4. "In the campaign's latest exchange...." ~ Reports that start like this are to be avoided at all costs. Someday the American voter must learn that politics, like the law, is not about truth as much as about truthiness. For instance: "Candidate X has charged his opponent with daring to be an opponent when everyone knows being in-opposition in America is being un-American!"
5. "Early today candidate Y was caught off-mike saying..." ~ At this silliest of all alerts in the American 24-hour news cycle, your highest moral obligation to yourself and your loved ones is to smash the set, take a hot shower, and remain in seclusion until after November!
Oh, one more thing. In each case, a startling tell-all-book will be ghost-written in time for Christmas.
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