Al Roker wants you to know that NBC isn’t “forcing” him to go report live from the eye of an incoming Category 4 hurricane with tornado-like tendencies; the 67-year-old cancer survivor chooses to report in wind-battered, surging, meteorologically dramatic conditions. On Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press aired a segment in which Roker reported on Hurricane Ida live from the heart of its path at Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bundled up in a rain coat and galoshes, Roker reports on what is basically “a mile-wide, F3 tornado” as he gets pummeled with wind and water.
Many people on Twitter retweeted the video clip and expressed concern that Roker is too old to report from dangerous conditions on television. To that point, Roker posted a video from his hotel bathroom, draining lake water from his boots, with a caption assuring fans that he’s safe and that “I volunteered to do this. Part of the job.” Weather is the punishingly persistent Javert to Roker’s Valjean; they battle again and again, but they can’t imagine life without the other. The storms call to him.
A storm king can’t stay indoors for long, so Roker was soon back out on the streets of New Orleans, speaking to Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC. Capehart aired a replay of Roker’s earlier battle with the elements, which gave Roker a chance to respond to those of little faith: “Folks on Twitter have been [saying], ‘first of all, why’s NBC putting him out there?’ I volunteered to come out here. This is what I do. I’ve done this for 40 years. Our crews, we all make sure we’re safe. We’re not going to do something that’s going to put ourselves in harm’s way. As much as I love the weather and I love NBC, not gonna risk my life for it.”
Addressing people who say, “he’s too old to be doing this,” Roker hits them with a, “Well hey, guess what? Screw you! And try to keep up.” Now Roker’s taken a page from Ida, gaining momentum, unstoppable, saying, “These young punks. I will come after them! I will drop them like a bag of dirt!” He’s gone Roker-mode, which is like Joker-mode but likable.