Pay close attention to the handwritten journal of Osama bin Laden and you'll see that in his final months he campaigned for smaller acts of terrorism, rather than the mother lode of death and destruction that were the Sept. 11 attacks.
It doesn't take much to throw panic and fear into the populous. Last night, on a subway in Manhattan, a man and a woman, a couple of some kind got into a heated argument. It got so tinged that the woman pulled out a can of pepper spray and let it fly into her husband/boyfriend's face. But the train was crowded, and pepper spray isn't guided by a laser, so the mist went everywhere. And so did the panic.
Two friends of mine were on that train, and the fear was far more powerful than the spray. They didn't know what was happening, and that was the problem. We're now so accustomed to hearing we should be ready for the worst, that it's not a huge leap to think that the worst is happening.
Ditto with the arrests last night of two men of North African descent, charged with trying to buy weapons, including AK47's and hand grenades, in a plot that cops say targeted synagogues in Manhattan.
The terrorism task force has been working on the case for about six months. The men were often heard saying brotherhoody kinds of things like, "I hate Jews," and "We hate Jews."
This was, the NYPD commish says, the 13th thwarted terror plot against the City since Sept. 11.
As it happens, also last night, New York cops were in the middle of an undercover gun buy operation in Brooklyn. Drugs were also involved. Things got violent, shocker, and an undercover detective fired his gun and killed a man.
Doesn't seem like these guys wanted the guns to intentionally kill Jews but they wanted the weapons for some kind of violence.
The frightening world scenario that we try to shield our kids from for as long as possible is a difficult thing to ignore especially in a city like New York, where close encounters of a violence kind are all too frequent. Yes, they like to say that New York is the safest big city in the country, but because it's the biggest city, the sheer volume of numbers especially in a congested footprint ? are staggering. And hard to not see.
We're very much aware of all this as we prep our newscasts. Our job is to inform and prepare and educate, not to freak out. But we'll be the first to admit that there's a huge gray area that we all walk that straddles the two worlds.
Inform or freak out? We try to avoid the latter.
There are some peeps who have written in who believe that our coverage of bin Laden's death, the journals, the controversy over the timeline of what happened and when in Pakistan, the supposed plots he wanted carried out has done more to spark fear than to form knowledge.
We hope not. Behind the stories you see on the air, we talk about the implications of what we cover; it's a constant and recurring theme.
It's why we're more than a little aware when we have a preponderance of crime stories in any one newscast. We try to avoid, although sometimes, crime does indeed drive the news of the day.
For those who have written in with their thoughts on the subject, I thank you. Your perspectives on this are part of our collective discussions.
Meanwhile, as for other stories we're working on for our 11 p.m. newscast, we have a different kind of bin Laden story. This one having nothing to do with terror, although you might find it rather terrifying. In the less-than-serious sense.
Among the personal effects the Navy Seals found in bin Laden's compound was something called Avena Sativa, or "Oat Seed," a supplement commonly called the "herbal Viagra."
Hey, the guy had six wives and fathered between 20 and 26 kids (you'd think someone would have been keeping better count), so maybe using something to boost his libido and sperm count is what was needed. (Did you ever think we'd be talking about Osama bin Laden's libido or sperm count? I didn't.) But it turns out as with so many things in this guy's life ? bin Laden got it wrong.
Our Joe Torres tonight takes a closer look at Oat Seed, and how, if you want something natural to try to mimic Viagra, there are better alternatives.
The irony in all this is that since word of this discovery in bin Laden's home, sales of Oat Seed have skyrocketed.
We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.