Yes, Virginia, There Is A National Temperature Index
(aired on ABC World News Now Monday, August 21, 2000)
World News Now normally doesn't respond at length to viewer e-mails.
But we feel we must address a particularly disturbing message from a young viewer in New York. Her friends have told her that our National Temperature Index is a meteorological fiction, a mere fabrication by an over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, cynical practical joker.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They think that nothing can exist that is not comprehensible by their little minds.
Yes, Virginia, there is a National Temperature Index.
It exists as certainly as Leah Rozen and Barry Mitchell and George Watson exist.
How dreary this newscast would be if there were no N-T-I!
It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias -- or inserts from ABC Radio News. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance -- no polka! -- to make tolerable our obscure, late night existence.
Not believe in the National Temperature Index?
You might as well not believe in Peter Jennings!
You could hire Sam Donaldson to search for the NTI formula. But even if Sam didn't find it, what would that prove, aside from the fact that you should have probably also hired a producer and research assistant?
Nobody knows how the N-T-I is calculated, but that doesn't mean it isn't real.
The most real things in this world are those that neither children nor men can see.
Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Okay, maybe I'm asking the wrong audience. Anyway, that's not proof that they're not there.
Only with faith, poetry, love and chronic insomnia can you push aside that curtain and view the N-T-I's beauty and glory.
No National Temperature Index?
Thank God and David Westin! It lives, and lives forever.
A thousand substitute anchors from now, Virginia... nay, ten times ten thousand anchors from now... the National Temperature Index will continue to make glad the hearts of dedicated World News Now viewers everywhere.
So let's just drop it, okay?
Kevin G. Barkes
On January 6, 2003, World News Now replaced the National Temperature Index with the National Darkness Quotient. The Darkness Quotient never caught on and was dropped without notice during the coverage of the Iraq War.
Why? Who knows?
Anyway, the responsibility for producing the NTI was assumed by KGB Report, where it was crafted with care and diligence, adhering as closely as possible to the "secret" formula used by ABC News' crack meteorologists.
Then WNN resurrected the NTI on January 5, 2007. Why? That's also shrouded in mystery. Check out the NTI section of the World News Now entry on Wikipedia.
KGB Report maintained the National Temperature Index here until December 31, 2008. We pulled the plug when the NTI page dropped to under five hits a day (and they were from indexing robots).
Here's the touching farewall to the NTI, which aired on January 6, 2002. It includes a few clips from my "Yes, Virginia" bit:
But that wasn't the end. I was in New York on business later that month and John Berman and I did this final bit:
Berman is the co-anchor of CNN's morning show Early Start with John Berman & Christine Romans and @THISHOUR with Michaela Pereira.