CBS Highlights Anti-Obama Complaints in New Orleans

All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday informed viewers of President Obama’s trip to New Orleans – including criticism he received for only staying a few hours. But correspondent Chip Reid of the CBS Evening News uniquely played up the fact that, even though President Obama had complained about President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, the Obama administration is receiving some of the same complaints -- including from one man wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt. On the down side, Reid passed on Obama’s attempt to blame the Bush administration without including anyone to advocate on former President Bush’s behalf.

After a clip of a man in the audience of the day's townhall meeting complaining to Obama about FEMA making payments too slowly – a clip which was also shown on the NBC Nightly News – with the man demanding, "I expected as much from the Bush administration, but why are we still being nickel and dimed in our recovery?" CBS’s Reid continued:

CHIP REID: The President said his team is still cleaning up the backlog from the Bush years.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: -but we are working as hard as we can as quickly as we can.

REID: Ever since the campaign, Obama has taken President Bush to task for his response to Katrina.

OBAMA: I just don't think that there is a sense of urgency in the White House where the President is cracking the whip.

REID: He insists he is cracking the whip.

Reid then recounted the case in favor of the Obama administration:

The administration has freed up 1.5 billion that was tied up in red tape and directed another billion here from the stimulus bill. Even some Republicans, including Governor Bobby Jindal, have praised the President for streamlining federal aid. Many areas, including the tourist-friendly French Quarter, are once again bustling.

The CBS correspondent ended up showing the complaint of another man – New Orleans resident Robert Richardson – who was wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt who is "still waiting for President Obama to do something," as Richardson recounted that he voted for Obama because "I wanted change":

REID: By one market a staggering 75 billion federal dollars have been allocated, but little of the money is getting to Ninth Ward residents like Robert Richardson who lost his house to Katrina.

ROBERT RICHARDSON: It hasn't reached this area, you know. It hasn't got here. I mean, look around, you know.

REID: He's still waiting for President Obama to do something.

RICHARDSON: So, I mean, you know, I mean, that's correct why I voted for him, you know. I wanted change.

On ABC's World News, host Charles Gibson did mention complaints about the trip being so short, but focused on a question from a boy in the townhall audience to Obama about why some people "hate" him. Only CBS and NBC mentioned that Obama was also  criticized for making such a short trip because he had to leave for a $3 million fund-raiser in San Francisco.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Thursday, October 15, CBS Evening News :

KATIE COURIC: Meanwhile, President Obama flew to New Orleans today, his first official trip to the region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. He said he will not forget the 1,600 people killed by the storm and vowed to rebuild New Orleans, as he put it, stronger than before. Our White House correspondent Chip Reid is there.

CHIP REID: In some parts of New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward, it's hard to believe it's been over four years since Hurricane Katrina.

JULIETTE ALLEN, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: A lot of emptiness. It was like a whole community just disciplined.

REID: Juliette Allen says President Obama needs to spend some real time here to see how bad things still are. That's why many in New Orleans are so disappointed his first trip here as President is a stopover of less than four hours. A quick visit to a rebuilt school and a town hall, where the President heard from only a single critic who wanted to know why payments from FEMA are coming in so slowly.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN IN AUDIENCE: I mean, I expected as much from the Bush administration, but why are we still being nickel and dimed in our recovery?

REID: The President said his team is still cleaning up the backlog from the Bush years.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: -but we are working as hard as we can as quickly as we can.

REID: Ever since the campaign, Mr. Obama has taken President Bush to task for his response to Katrina.

OBAMA: I just don't think that there is a sense of urgency in the White House where the President is cracking the whip.

REID: He insists he is cracking the whip.

OBAMA: We have sent more cabinet members to this region than almost anywhere in the country.

REID: The administration has freed up $1.5 billion that was tied up in red tape and directed another billion here from the stimulus bill. Even some Republicans, including Governor Bobby Jindal, have praised the President for streamlining federal aid. Many areas, including the tourist-friendly French Quarter, are once again bustling.

ROBERT RICHARDSON, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: Life is good if you live uptown.

REID: By one estimate, a staggering 75 billion federal dollars has been allocated to Louisiana since Katrina, but little of that money is getting to Ninth Ward residents like Robert Richardson who lost his house to Katrina.

RICHARDSON: It hasn't reached this area, you know. It hasn't got here. I mean, look around, you know.

REID: He's still waiting for President Obama to do something.

RICHARDSON: So, I mean, you know, I mean, that's correct why I voted for him, you know. I wanted change.

REID: Another thing that has some people here in New Orleans upset is that the President had to keep his visit short here so he could jet off to San Francisco for a $3 million fund-raiser.