Sunday, September 11, 2005

I haven't blogged much on Katrina, because I've always viewed natural disasters, however tragic, as something to be stoically endured and and cleaned up after (maybe it's my Scottish heritage). But the press coverage has been, frankly, so unreal that it's more interesting than the hurricane itself. Given the coverage thus far, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the press is rabidly obsessed with pinning the blame on Bush.

Here's an article that is virtually fact-free and totally unbalanced. From Reuters' Kieran Murray, we have a statement strongly implying Bush is to blame for a "bumbling" response, then comments from three Democrats on how Bush is "badly informed," the admin is using "spin" and Bush lacks "empathy." Count of relevant facts or opinions from Republicans: zero.

Here's some pertinent information that somehow escaped Murray's journalistic prowess:

Bush offered federal help, including troops and a federal takeover of the recovery effort, on the FRIDAY BEFORE the hurricane.

Blanco didn't accept that help until the WEDNESDAY AFTER, and even then refused to allow the feds to take over.

Meanwhile, the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool sat idly by on Sat and Sun instead of being used to evacuate, as the emergency plan specifies. By Mon, they were flooded and 100,000 people were stranded.

Louisiana state officials (who report to Blanco) refused to allow the Red Cross and Salvation Army to bring supplies to thousands of people stranded in the Superdome, on the grounds allowing them in would encourage people to stay. (I suppose their logic went something like "Well, after the first few die of thirst or starvation, the rest will leave.")

These are major, major screwups that cost lives. The worst mistakes I've been able to assign to FEMA was that Brown padded his resume and failed to watch TV during the disaster, some FEMA officials didn't have disaster experience, someone got Charleston WV confused with Charleston NC, and at one point a phone wasn't working. None of these issues had any material impact. In fact, I can't find a single thing anyone at FEMA actually did wrong that contributed to the problems.

So where are all the journos asking why Blanco didn't "care" enough to feed refugees, or how Nagin could be so "bumbling" as to ignore his evacuation plan?

The silence is deafening.

(much more exhaustive coverage by Jeff at protein wisdom)

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