ABC Showcases Complaints Bush Slighted Katrina Victims, Didn't Promise More Money

ABC on Wednesday night devoted a story to how New Orleans residents are upset that President Bush, in his State of the Union address, did not advocate even more money for those hurt by Hurricane Katrina. Reporter Steve Osunsami littered his story with several supposed Bush voters who are angry at him. “The speech was practically over before the President mentioned Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in America's history,” World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas fretted. She added: “Many people in New Orleans were not happy about it.” Osunsami began with a woman who proclaimed: “Last night, the proof was in the pudding. He doesn't give a damn about us!" Osunsami outlined “what many residents wanted to hear: A greater share of the tax revenue generated from oil and gas drilled off Louisiana's shore, even more money for stronger levees, and a rebuilding plan that would cover each and every affected homeowner.”

Osunsami noted how $85 billion has already been allocated, before he proceeded to cue up soundbites from Bush voters. A doctor argued that "this is a situation that requires big government help” and a woman contended that “the government's job is to protect me, and that's what I expect them to do." Osunsami cautioned: "Perhaps the State of the Union Address wasn't the place for announcing policy aimed at helping these homeowners, but there's a feeling here that they were slighted." (Transcript follows.)

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of what aired on the February 1 World News Tonight:
Elizabeth Vargas: "We mentioned all the attention today about what was in the President's speech, but there's been quite a debate about some things that President Bush did not talk about. The speech was practically over before the President mentioned Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in America's history. Many people in New Orleans were not happy about it. Here's ABC's Steve Osunsami."

Steve Osunsami: "Across New Orleans-"

Cindy Galliano, New Orleans resident: "We're flabbergasted. We're insulted. We're outraged."

Osunsami: "-residents couldn't believe the President's speech offered no new ideas for rebuilding their city."

Galliano: "Last night, the proof was in the pudding. He doesn't give a damn about us!"

Osunsami: "The President spent less than a minute mentioning the Gulf Coast disaster. The administration points out Congress has already dedicated $85 billion to recovery efforts."

Bill Sailers, New Orleans resident: "I don't know if I was really surprised last night because of what he said the last time he was in town, that, 'Go ahead and bring your families down here. Everything looks pretty good to me.'"

Osunsami: "The reality is that a third of New Orleans is still without power. In Mississippi, 51 hotels and resorts, the lifeblood of the tourism industry there, will never be rebuilt. In Louisiana, the repairs on the levees may not be completed until after this year's hurricane season begins. Here's what many residents wanted to hear: A greater share of the tax revenue generated from oil and gas drilled off Louisiana's shore, even more money for stronger levees, and a rebuilding plan that would cover each and every affected homeowner. William Farrell is a doctor who voted for the President and is now living in a trailer."

Dr. William Farrell, New Orleans resident: "This is a situation that requires big government help. And as much as I philosophically don't espouse that approach, when you're in it and you live it, you see there's really no other way."

Osunsami: "Elorial Monette also voted for the President."

Elorial Monette, New Orleans resident: "The government's job is to protect me, and that's what I expect them to do."

Osunsami: "Perhaps the State of the Union Address wasn't the place for announcing policy aimed at helping these homeowners, but there's a feeling here that they were slighted."

Gloria Powers, New Orleans resident: "I want everybody in the country to realize that if they have a disaster in their area, this is what they can expect."

Osunsami: "They're going to be angry for some time. Steve Osunsami, ABC News, New Orleans."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center