Thursday, May 25, 2006


"Cannibalism? Good Lord, it's only day two. Are you THAT hungry?"

One of the most amazing displays of the remnants of the legacy media's power and influence was when Hurricane Katrina struck the southeastern coast of the United States. Although newspaper circulation is down, TV news viewing is down, and people's trust in the news media is even lower than it was in the past, they still have some influence. Ask yourself, what are the three most significant or memorable stories or images of Hurricane Katrina, and how do you think of President Bush when you consider the disaster? To this day, radical tales still are told of mass graves, deliberately breached levees and a conspiracy to sacrifice a city to cover up some story about President Bush.

What you think about and what you remember is largely shaped by the news coverage at the time, images and stories told over and over again to fill a 24-hour news cycle. And these stories were told with a certain bent and lurid excitement that lingers still. Real Clear Politics has an article about the coverage of Katrina, including these lines:

Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?

Sure, we all remember the original reporting, if not the back-pedaling.

It goes on to talk about events that didn't actually happen, coverage that focused on some things to the exclusion of others, and the furious effort by Louisiana and New Orleans officials to put the blame on someone, anyone other than themselves.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online says he has difficulty thinking of more fraudulently inaccurate coverage in his lifetime of any event. I agree with his analysis, the coverage was incredibly poor and inaccurate, to the point of deliberately misleading viewers. As millions were glued to CNN, events were reported that simply were not happening, the government was accused of things that were untrue, claims were made of inaction that was actually taking place, and reporters struggled to portray the Bush administration in the worst possible light while ignoring or downplaying culpability and incompetence of the local officials.

Canadian Blog Small Dead Animals advises people remember this event, the coverage that was given it, and keep that in mind the next media frenzy that comes along, and the next, and the next...

Commenters gave their coverage to the news:

"if the news doesn't suit your agenda, just lie about it" seems to be the modus operendi of the pseudo journalists that ply the trade these days.

Always remember the dimwit in the canoe, paddling bravely through the flood waters that devasted so many lives, while having to avoid the technicians who accidentally walked through her shot in six inches of water and "spoiled" her dramtic breaking news . . .
-by Fred

[Fred refers to NBC' Today Show reporter Michelle Kosinki's stunt in which she was shown in a Canoe for her field report when several rescue workers casually walked by in camera, demonstrating the water was inches deep. Video can be seen here, in Real or Windows Media format]

I was hoping the press would do a follow-up on the claims that the po' folk had to resort to cannibalism because President Bush did not personally deliver the rations to the Superdome.

I remember thinking WTF? Cannibalism? Good Lord, it's only day two. Are you THAT hungry? Holy $hit, day two and they were already writing the script for "Alive 2: Hey Kids, Grandma Tastes Like Chicken", a made-for-tv movie starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarrandon. Music by the Dixie Chicks. Special guest appearance by Harry Belafonte as Mayor Nagin.

Remember Anderson Cooper's crocodile tears? Or were they alligator tears? Remember Oprah going to Nawlins? Screw FEMA, Oprah will get things done, right?

Meanwhile, as Sean Penn bails out his boat with a Dixie cup, hundreds of school buses sat in the compound, partially submerged.....THESE are the two pictures I'll remember about Katina the most.
-by Eskimo

Here's an article on "pack journalism":

[Live Journal Article]

"Instead of checking facts, the media prefer to follow what others are saying. And what others are saying is often inspired by establishment hardliners seeking to impose their agendas with the help of bogus news agencies, subsidized research outfits and hired scribblers."
-by bobby fletcher

I'd love to see a show featuring some of the most memorable bs moments from the big time reporters on New Orleans.

IMO, Shepard and Geraldo on FOX were terrible too.

It looked like there were just too many broadcast minutes that had to be filled.

The reports featured all kinds of what was to become laughable hearsay and innuendo and rumours.
-by concrete

Currently reading Douglas Brinkley's "The Great Deluge", and in it NOLA native and resident Brinkley tears Nagin and FEMA's Mike Brown new ones right through the entire book. Gov. Blanco is dealt with in slightly more sympathetic tones. The real first-responders were the big, heartless bastards like Walmart.
As far as media-weasels, NBC's Brian Williams is given thumbs up as are the freelancers hired by ABC. A local talkshow host who stayed on-air right through the storm is also considered highly by the residents for keeping his cool while the windows were blowing out of his studio.
-by bruce strang

Maybe the truth about the levys will surface.
The feds had been giving money to New Orleans for years to shore up the levys but the tree huggers like the sierra club said to fix the levys would harm the fish and wildlife in the sippi river so nothing was done.
A disaster witing to happen. To bad the Mayor didn't load up all those school buses and evacuate all those po folks. The buses were lost as well as lives.
-by scott

Psuedo-blogged in real time here, by Yer Obediant Servant:

-HURRICANE KATRINA- archive of links--

Note particularly the "live thread" links ( 23 of them ) which covered Katrina as it happened.
-by backhoe

As a Houstonian, I can vouch for a lot of what is written in the article Peter Rempel linked to, and say that next time NOLA gets hit Houston won't be opening up it's arms so fast.

The dredges of Chocolate City ended up staying here while the actual hardworking minority of New Orleans residents have already gone back to rebuild or moved on. That "give a man a fish/teach him how to fish" thing is lost on the majority of evacuees. They are still trying to get more money from anyone but an employer. Kind of like Dipper entitlements. Sad but true and heaven help you if you mention this as the race card comes out faster than you can say Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton.

As in Iraq, the MSM always tried to put a humanity vs bad Bush spin on this disaster but one thing always puzzled me. Every time a reporter from any MSM outlet got on line they started by saying "Every day when we drive here to the Superdome we see..." and proceed to interview dirty, hungry, thirsty evacuees. My question is: " Why didn't you pack that SUV full of water and food so you could help the people you are interviewing?" If Geraldo can fly down from New York City and get to the Convention Center to cry on camera then why did he come empty handed? Oh, the humanity!
-by texas canuck

For an excellent, well-written and calm analysis of Hurricane Katrina and what should be done to prevent another disaster, read Popular Mechanics' online article.

*UPDATE: A recent drill was run in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to respond to a mock flooding, and as the AP story reports, it was less than encouraging:
A misunderstanding about who had jurisdiction over a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer park for evacuees canceled the first day of mock evacuations on Tuesday but was later resolved.

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Anna Venger said...

This pretty much explains why I don't watch much news. Same thing after 9/11. Glued to the tv set, I heard "we think" this or "maybe" that. Realizing my kids were terrified and that these people had no facts to report, I turned it off. I committed to watching one hour at most in the evening when they could summarize any new information without filling my head with suppositions.

"How the News Makes Us Dumb" is a book that explains why the media do what they do.

Christopher R Taylor said...

I figured out about the time of Desert Storm that these news channels were so interested in getting their news out first that they were willing to cover absolute unproven and unconfirmed crap, all the while repeating themselves constantly for 24 hours in a vain attempt to have something to say.

And they were ignoring the rest of the planet in the process, ignoring the rest of the news. That's when I just switched TV news off.

Muslihoon said...

Going along with your Desert Storm comment, I think the trend of reporting on the military's activities so closely and often detracts from the military's purposes. It used to be that if the military takes weeks or months to do something, it was no big deal. Now, what with instant news, we not only want instant results but constantly engage in armchair generalship.