Katrina & the Media


Nothing could have been more predictable than the railing of the media against especially the federal government with regard to the havoc wrought by hurricane Katrina. “Correspondents,” especially those connected with the cable networks, which can operate 24/7 on nothing but this catastrophe, have castigated both local and other governments/agencies, especially FEMA, for alleged ineptness in handling a natural disaster that no one, especially the correspondents, could have foreseen and made adequate preparations to address.

It should be noted, however, that the flooding of New Orleans may not be strictly characterized as a “natural disaster,” since it was precipitated by government agencies that tried to pretend that a city of half-a-million people could be guaranteed safety by using nature-defying methods in the process and thus helping cause an “unnatural disaster.” An entire city nestled within levees and lying well below sea-level and needing pumps to keep it un-flooded even during heavy rains is a city headed for disaster. Perhaps this is a lesson too late for the learning.

But for the failure of the levee holding back Lake Pontchartrain and the water in a couple of canals, New Orleans, while suffering terribly because of Katrina, would have had a chance at survival. The correspondents, even those on the scene, seem not to understand the enormity of the problem, either that of the flooding and its causes or the inordinate problems associated with trying to get help to tens of thousands of people who are simply completely dislocated and surrounded by water, as well as roads and bridges that don’t exist anymore, thus making ingress of people and materiel nearly impossible.

Just the thought of feeding and getting water to 50,000 or 75,000 people (who knows…probably tens of thousands more) while at the same time attempting to rescue those stranded on rooftops and in buildings is mind-boggling. Homestead, Florida, was completely wrecked, much like Katrina wrecked Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile, a few years ago, but, unlike the situation in New Orleans, did not leave water at rooftop level once it had passed. Indeed, workers were able to attack the problem while standing on dry land. This seems not to have registered with the correspondents and other media folks who attend press conferences and turn them into “blame the government for everything from the hurricane itself (global warming anyone?) to the almost impossible task of pleasing people who are in dire straits through no fault of their own (or the government).”

The nitpicking started early as the self-appointed righteous began their drumbeat against the president because he wasn’t standing in New Orleans when the hurricane hit (to raise his hand and scream stop?) or within at least six hours after it headed on north. When he surveyed the damage as well as he could in the flyby from Texas to Washington, that was “grandstanding”…so, it was business as usual with the gang that hates Bush just because he won in 2004.

Just as in the case of Iraq, the correspondents and pundits have had a field day parading justifiably unhappy people before their cameras and microphones to rail against the government. One guy was allowed to go on and on about the fact that the officials in New Orleans had shut off the gas, water, phones, electricity, etc., when anyone with half-sense understands that the city didn’t shut off anything; rather Katrina shut off everything. It suited that correspondent’s agenda and that of his outfit, however, to let that kind of outright lying go on and on. The sensational rescues were shown because they were just that – sensational. The good things, such as the treatment provided in Houston and the preparation of hospitals everywhere to take patients when flown in (Lexington, Ky., here, where an entire hangar has already been set up as a triage center) has received short shrift. Instead, there are the constant scenes (the same ones played over and over) depicting the misery.

Finally, on the Larry King Live clambake on Thursday evening, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi put everything in perspective, describing the progress being made as well as explaining the almost frantic begging he did in trying to get his people to evacuate, only to discover that they had paid no attention. He did that when Katrina was at level 3, and no one would have expected a level-5 monster to actually hit the coast. He gave a glimmer of hope but explained realistically that it would be a long but successful road back. This is not the kind of stuff that the agenda-freaks want to hear. They’re ready to blame the administration for Katrina itself.

TV-news is as much entertainment (if not more so) as it is anything else. It’s also an arm in many ways of the democrat party, so a catastrophe such as Katrina is perfect for taking shots at anyone in the administration, providing grim humor in he process in the asking of totally idiotic questions such as “how many people are dead today?”. The officials facing the problem try their best to explain the complexity of the total situation, but the cameras and the mikes are in the hands of those whose agenda is to discredit those officials. They don’t always realize it, but in the process of trying to embarrass the noble people handling the problems they make jackasses of themselves.

And so it goes.

Addendum: On the morning of 02 September, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, representing the Congressional Black Caucus and appearing on TV, of course, found it necessary to directly address the president by stumbling through a reading of the last third of Matthew 25, thus trivializing the president’s faith, demeaning his own (if he has any), and violating the holy scripture by using it to politicize a natural disaster totally incomprehensible in its magnitude. In the process, of course, he made himself appear as silly and arrogant as it is possible to be. It doesn’t get any lower than this.