A week after NPR’s Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington, urged imposition of a “Katrina tax,” on the same show this weekend she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." She rejected the contention that would hurt the economy and forwarded the standard liberal class warfare argument that “if people who are richer in this country don't pay more, we can't take it out of the hides of poor people, which is what the conservative group that is actually in Congress that's put out earmarks of what they think we ought to cut -- Medicaid, Medicare.”
Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, soon chimed in to point out how “there's no law in the Bible that says a Republican can never raise taxes." He recalled how “Ronald Reagan raised taxes, you know, he cut taxes, but then he raised taxes. George Bush, the father, raised taxes.”
Complete transcript of the remarks by Totenberg and Thomas follow. UPDATE: On another weekend TV talk show, the McLaughlin Group, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift also looked to undoing tax reductions to pay for Katrina.
At the premiere party Wednesday night in Beverly Hills for ABC's new drama debuting on Tuesday, Commander in Chief, in which Geena Davis plays the President of the United States, actress Sara Rue told USA Today reporter William Keck for a Friday article: "In my mind I'm pretending that Geena Davis is actually running the country because it makes me feel a lot more secure." Keck asserted that Rue, who stars on ABC'sLess Than Perfect, summed “up the opinions of the mostly Democratic Hollywood crowd” when she declared: “We all thought of Hillary Clinton when we heard they were making this show. I hope it takes off!"
Davis herself, however, who Keck reported will be “a Democrat playing an independent,” had “clarified: 'We're making this as entertainment. But God willing, if this show stays on and people see a woman in that office for a while, I think it will help people become more used to it. It's certainly about time that we had a few female presidents.'"
A day after NBC's Matt Lauer asked on Today, "why are there so many hurricanes this year and is global warming to blame?" and Robert Bazell ominously concluded an NBC Nightly News story by asserting that "many experts say" hurricane-fueling global warming "results partly from humans releasing greenhouse gases possibly creating even more violent storms in the future," ABC and CBS aired stories which largely dismissed global warming as a culprit. On Thursday's World News Tonight, ABC's Ned Potter featured a soundbite from National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, who in little-reported congressional testimony Tuesday, discounted global warming as a factor. CBS's Russ Mitchell, on The Early Show, featured a scientist who "says hurricane activity comes in cycles that can last several decades. It seems Mother Nature has mood swings." Mitchell explained that "hurricane cycles are primarily driven by rainfall patterns in Africa and the Amazon basin." As for hype about hurricanes on the rise, Mitchell admonished: "The experts will tell us back in the '50s and '60s we saw some monster hurricanes, but we just have very short memories."
(Viewers of ABC's PrimeTime Thursday, however, heard more hyperbolic lunacy on global warming as Barbra Streisand exclaimed to Diane Sawyer: "We are in a global warming emergency state and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense, there could be more droughts, dust bowls, you know it's amazing to hear these facts, I mean, the Andes have no ice caps on the mountains in winter. The glaciers are melting. I mean, for the United States not to be part of the Kyoto treaty is unforgivable.")
Full transcripts and CBS's 1950-'60s hurricane graphic follow.
Declaring that the Media Research Center “is a much more biased organization than any institution in the MSM," CBS Evening News Executive Producer Jim Murphy, on the CBS News “Public Eye” blog on Thursday, criticized two MRC CyberAlertarticles I wrote which were first posted this week on NewsBusters. Public Eye Editor Vaughn Ververs asked Murphy to comment on a September 20 NewsBusters item, “CBS: Bush Should 'Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.'” Murphy seemed befuddled by the article: “Please explain to me what's WRONG with pointing out the President spoke from an air-conditioned tent, which to most people on the gulf would be a more than welcome relief from their existence. It was not gratuitous, it was an interesting note” and the CBS reporter's “use of the well-known phrase, 'wake up and smell the coffee,' was attributed to the restaurant owners as THEIR feeling, NOT hers. It's just good, colorful, pointed writing.” (The MRC's Michelle Humphrey tracked down a still shot of Murphy from a May of 2004 appearance on CNN.)
But Murphy's reasoning is a tautology. I was criticizing the judgment of CBS News on what is news. Other outlets did not choose to highlight Bush's air-conditioned surroundings, how one woman at a French Quarter restaurant assailed him for not experiencing their suffering or what Jimmy Carter said. Carter makes comments nearly every day. CBS chose to report this particular comment on this day. CBS decided that the restaurant owner's comment was more newsworthy than any number of other soundbites they could have run. The story reflected an agenda. By Murphy's reasoning, my articles should be beyond criticism since they accurately quoted what CBS reported.
Public Eye Editor Ververs conceded the NewsBusters/MRC piece on Bush had a point about CBS's "attitude." That and a bit more from Murphy follows.
In a Wednesday CBS Evening News story on shortcomings in FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina, reporter Randall Pinkston cited “frustrations that reached as far away as the state of Maine, where officials received ice that was supposed to go to the Gulf Coast." Pinkston touted how “former President Jimmy Carter, who created FEMA, criticized the Bush administration's decision to strip the agency's independence." Viewers then saw a clip of Jimmy Carter from a Tuesday night forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta: "This obviously lowered FEMA's status so that they would have to go through four or five levels of bureaucracy even to reach the President, whereas FEMA used to deal directly with the President." Of course, that decision -- good or bad -- had bi-partisan support in Congress. (Neither ABC or NBC found Carter's remarks newsworthy.)
Was Bette Midler serious or joking, when she said at a Tuesday night “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy” fundraising concert in New York City, as recounted in a Rolling Stone posting: "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.' She then added, 'George Bush is a fan of mine -- he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.'" Rolling Stone characterized that as an example of how some celebrities “angrily denounced government officials” and how Midler employed “even stronger words” than used by another singer. In contrast, however, the AP's Nekesa Mumbi Moody treated Midler's comments as comedy: “Except for a joke about President Bush by Bette Midler -- which promptly got her booed -- the evening's focus was not on the divisive politics of the tragedy, but on the music that has brought communities together in its wake.”
CBS on Tuesday night delivered a sarcastic look at President Bush's visit to the Gulf coast. After reciting a list of problems people are having in New Orleans, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi jumped to a soundbite of Bush in Mississippi, declaring: “Every time I come back here, I see progress." Alfonsi gratuitously pointed out that Bush was “speaking inside an air-conditioned tent” and noted how “he toured a Folgers plant in Louisiana” but, she stressed, “small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception.” Then, over video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts in New Orleans, she countered: “This is the reality.” Alfonsi made it personal, holding Bush responsible for the frustrations of a French Quarter restaurant owner: “After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee.” (That cute line ran over video of Bush, in a sweat-soaked shirt, shaking hands at the coffee plant.) Restaurant owner Arly Questa demanded: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."
As Noel Sheppard posted on NewsBusters on Sunday, George Stephanopoulos' “entire twenty minutes” with Bill Clinton on This Week “appeared to be an opportunity for President Clinton to defame the current administration while pumping up his own legacy. Assisting this goal was Stephanopoulos who, regardless of what his former employer said, didn’t once challenge the accuracy of any of Clinton’s numerous misstatements of fact.” NBC's Tim Russert also got a sit-down with Clinton, at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, and did little more than toss up talking point cues to him in the taped interview aired on Sunday's Meet the Press.
Russert was even easier on Clinton than Stephanopoulos, pitching up such softballs as, "Do you think the war in Iraq has hurt the U.S. image in the world?," "Do you think global warming influences, effects, creates hurricanes or the severity of them?" and on paying for the Iraq war and Katrina, "How can we afford that? What is it going to do to the deficit? And what should we do about tax cuts and spending cuts?" Russert plugged the interview: "In his first Meet the Press interview since 1997, former President Bill Clinton reflects on poverty, religion, and politics 2008, right here on Meet the Press."
Just 40 minutes into the Emmy Awards presentations Sunday night on CBS, Blythe Danner, in accepting the award (picture of acceptance) for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s Huff, relayed views she attributed to her late husband Bruce Paltrow, best known as the producer of St. Elsewhere, though it was unclear if her political statement about Iraq, coming after a tribute to New Orleans, was her own or just what she believed her husband would have thought: "I know Bruce would want me to pay tribute to New Orleans, his favorite city, and all the Gulf Coast and our kids in Iraq. Let's get the heck out of there!” Just under two hours later, however, in accepting (picture of acceptance) the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her starring role on NBC’s Medium, Patricia Arquette delivered a classier appreciation of the troops in Iraq. She announced: “My prayer for you is that when you get home you can come home safe and sound."
Afterwards, on the E cable channel’s post-Emmy coverage, Arquette elaborated: “I think even though the troops aren’t on television all the time, they’re part of our country and it’s important to remember they’re there and to reach out and remind them that we haven’t forgotten them.”
On the Inside Washington TV talk show aired on three Washington, DC stations over the weekend, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg, decked out in NewsBusters orange, suggested that President Bush’s Thursday night speech “would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.’" Host Gordon Peterson repeated her point: "You want more taxes." Totenberg chuckled as she reiterated: "I want more taxes, yes." Two weeks ago, as recounted in this NewsBusters item with a video clip, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: “For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.”
CNN founder Ted Turner rued on Friday’s Late Show with David Letterman that “we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole” and declared that the Iraqi people “were better off without us.” He also charged that “we violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council.” Though the 9/11 terrorists were hardly poor, Turner contended: “You don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up.” To that end, he proposed giving the UN $62 billion a year to alleviate poverty. As for the UN’s oil-for-food scandal, “there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn’t close down American business as result of it.” But Enron is no longer around.
ABC News producers probably didn't hear what they expected when they sent Dean Reynolds to the Houston Astrodome's parking lot to get reaction to President Bush's speech from black evacuees from New Orleans. Instead of denouncing Bush and blaming him for their plight, they praised Bush and blamed local officials. Reynolds asked Connie London: "Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?" She rejected the premise: "No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in.” She pointed out: “They had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people."
Not one of the six people interviewed on camera had a bad word for Bush -- despite Reynolds' best efforts. Reynolds goaded: "Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that's nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?" Brenda Marshall answered, "No, I didn't," prompting Reynolds to marvel to anchor Ted Koppel: "Very little skepticism here.”
Reynolds pressed another woman: “Did you feel that the President was sincere tonight?" She affirmed: "Yes, he was." Reynolds soon wondered who they held culpable for the levee breaks. Unlike the national media, London did not blame supposed Bush-mandated budget cuts: "They've been allocated federal funds to fix the levee system, and it never got done. I fault the mayor of our city personally. I really do."
During PBS's coverage Wednesday of the Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, analysts ridiculed the concern of some conservative Senators over the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling and mocked the role of naive talk radio hosts. During a break at about 4:45pm EDT, Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant was befuddled by "the vigorous nature of this opposition to a rather mundane eminent domain case from New London, Connecticut, this Kelo thing. I mean, as you know, this issue has been around for decades, especially connected with urban renewal." New York Times columnist David Brooks pointed out that "talk radio exploded on this issue, and it was a big popular issue." That prompted NewsHour reporter Ray Suarez, host of the roundtable, to take a slap at talk radio: "Well, when eminent domain was remaking the face of cities across America, there really was no talk radio, and that may be a big change in the United States." Also, in his Tuesday column, Oliphant proposed that while Roberts may know the law, "there is almost no evidence of his understanding of justice."
Some noteworthy quotes from Tuesday's broadcast network evening newscast coverage of the Senate's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. ABC's Linda Douglass saw civil rights through a liberal prism as, over a picture of Roberts with Ronald Reagan, she relayed how “Democrats hammered him about things he wrote as a young government lawyer 25 years ago, when the Reagan administration was fighting against expanding civil rights laws.” Conservatives would contend Reagan was just trying to ensure equal treatment of all races. Douglass also highlighted questions about the improper influence of Roberts' religious beliefs, as if anyone with them is disqualified: “Democrats made clear they suspect Roberts, a devout Catholic, will lower the wall between church and state. One Senator quoted John Kennedy.” Viewers then heard Senator Dianne Feinstein recite: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
Over on CBS, Gloria Borger negatively framed Roberts' views on another topic: "The only woman on the panel grilled Roberts on his old legal memos, which appear to disparage women and their complaints about unequal pay." Borger repeatedly used the term “abortion rights” and Bob Schieffer hoped: “When he says today that Roe v. Wade is a 'settled legal precedent,' as he calls it, does that mean he supports abortion rights?"
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams trumpeted the liberal ideology of Arlen Specter, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and how Specter is "unafraid to act independently." Williams touted: “He says his brushes with death have made him hyper-aware of the life-saving possibilities of stem cell research. He brought an hour glass to a Senate hearing, he says, to point out time's a-wastin'." Williams soon championed how “from his earliest days in politics, on the staff of the Warren Commission, running for mayor of Philadelphia in 1967, to his 25 years in Congress, Specter has been unafraid to act independently. It's a virtue he believes will serve him well throughout these hearings."
Transcripts, compiled by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, follow.
ABC News can't seem to figure out what percent of whites in their latest poll believe that the response to Katrina would have been faster “if the victims were wealthy and white,” with World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas (20 percent), an on-screen graphic (21 percent) and ABCNews.com (24 percent) all offering a different percentage. And while Vargas highlighted Monday night how “dissatisfaction...with the government's response to the hurricane is growing and hurting President Bush's overall approval rating. It now stands at just 42 percent, the lowest it's ever been,” in a WashingtonPost.com article posted at 5:30pm EDT, Richard Morin pointed out that “Bush isn't the biggest loser in the post-Katrina blame game.” Indeed, though 45 percent said Bush deserved a “great deal” or “good amount” of blame for “problems” in the response, 57 percent said the same about state and local officials.
Like Vargas, ABC News polling analyst Gary Langer skipped those numbers as he focused his online posting on how “on Katrina, opinion has moved further away from Bush and his administration.”
Transcript from ABC and excerpts from ABCNews.com and WashingtonPost.com follow.
Some calm and dispassionate political analysis Saturday night on Comedy Central's Weekends at the DL. Actress/comedian Kathy Griffin delivered not comedy but her vitriolic personal opinion as she shouted, to loud audience applause while she gesticulated with her arms: “The President is a moron! I'm saying it. I don't care. He's an idiot. Cheney is evil. I'm sick of, impeach them, get them out! I hate them! I hate them. Get them out. They got to go!" She later pleaded: “What is it going to take for you people? Get Bush out! Impeach! Out! Out! Out!” Griffin also denounced FNC's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity: “He and Hannity can suck it. I hate those two idiots! Those liars.”
Griffin is the star of the reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the d-List on NBC-Universal's Bravo cable channel, a regular on the E! channel's “red carpet” coverage before awards ceremonies, has had roles in several movies, as well as appearing on such TV shows as NBC's Suddenly Susan sit-com and currently on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm.
During the Friday night (SOS) Saving OurSelves: The BET Relief Telethon, actor/comedian Steve Harvey and singer/actress Queen Latifah came to rapper Kanye West's defense. Harvey imparted: “We love you, brother. And do keep your head up, and we understand what you were trying to say, and you have a lot of people's support in spite of all the ridicule that you're receiving, man. Do stay strong.” Latifah saw West as a martyr, chiming in with how “you always going to pay to speak what's on your mind and what's on your heart. But that don't mean you shouldn't say it.”
Last Friday (Sept. 2), on NBC's Concert for Hurricane Relief, West ludicrously contended that “we already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.” He later added this slam: “George Bush doesn't care about black people." (Previous NewsBusters item on West.)
After nearly two weeks of media carping about a slow federal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, tonight ABC will air a story critical of the federal government for listing a charity which is providing hurricane relief -- one founded by Pat Robertson. Viewers of Thursday's World News Tonight were treated to this promo: “Tomorrow: He wanted the U.S. to assassinate a world leader. Now the U.S. is recommending his charity as second only to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina donations. The politics of Katrina relief and Pat Robertson, tomorrow, only on World News Tonight.” (As the announcer said that, ABC displayed video clips of Robertson, Hugo Chavez, hurricane destruction, the name “Operation Blessing” and Robertson with a frowning face as he prayed.)
I don't know how the feds made Operation Blessing “second only to the Red Cross,” but below are links to Operation Blessing and a FEMA press release which lists Operation Blessing fourth, after the Humane Society. And why should victims suffer just because the founder of one relief group, who has nothing to do with day-to-day operations, said something dumb?
UPDATED 9:10pm EDT with what aired.
After insisting that “I don’t do opinions,” on Thursday’s Daily Show on Comedy Central, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams seemed to come dangerously close to endorsing the view that racism was behind the slow rescue of residents in New Orleans as he approvingly relayed how, a “refrain” he heard from “everyone watching the coverage all week,” was “had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have-” At that point, audience applause caused him to cut off his sentence as he gestured toward the audience to cite affirmation of his point.
Hard to imagine that if Williams heard the refrain, which is out there, that the hurricane’s destruction of abortion clinics in New Orleans shows it was meant as God’s punishment of sinful behavior in the city, Williams would have so willingly passed along that line of reasoning.
Under video shown on ABC's Good Morning America, during Charlie Gibson's Wednesday interview with Senator Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill, viewers saw a graphic which asked: “WHAT WENT WORONG?” ABC's spelling, for one thing. The misspelled graphic ran under video of Senator Clinton talking to people inside the Washington, DC armory, one of the shelters for those evacuated from New Orleans.
The MRC's Rich Noyes caught ABC's miscue, which they quickly corrected when they switched to a two-shot of Gibson and Clinton.
Olbermann's arrogant hypocrisy. On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann misidentified Tom DeLay as the House "Minority" Leader, an error for which he soon conceded that "I'd like to give you a good explanation for it, but there wasn't one. I just kicked it." But the night before, Olbermann had launched a five-minute diatribe which pegged great meaning to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff's miscue that "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater." Olbermann thundered: "Well, there's your problem right there. If ever a slip of the tongue defined a government's response to a crisis." Olbermann soon provided ridicule: "Anybody seen the Vice President lately, the man whose message this time last year was 'I will protect you, the other guy might let you die'? I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant. For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been, as we were taught in social studies it should always be, whether or not I voted for this President, he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week." Olbermann also suggested Bush looked "like a 21st century Marie Antoinette."
After a week off, Jon Stewart opened his Daily Show on Comedy Central Tuesday night with a very serious lecture about the federal government's failures in the hurricane disaster. Without addressing the bias point that the media framework has held Bush and FEMA accountable to the exclusion of local officials, he scolded those who claim the "left-wing media is being too hard" on Bush: "No. Shut up. No. This is inarguably, inarguably a failure of leadership from the top of the federal government." Stewart's presentation culminated with a laugh line, "Hurricane Katrina is George Bush's Monica Lewinsky. One difference, and I'll say this, the only difference is this: That tens of thousands of people weren't stranded in Monica Lewinsky's vagina. That is the only difference."
Full CyberAlert item follows. For all of the articles in today’s MRC CyberAlert.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, reporter Martin Savidge in New Orleans highlighted a complaint from environmentalists about the impact of the contaminated water being pumped out of the city, but reporter Lisa Myers, in a story on “missed opportunities,” also gave broadcast network air time to showing an aerial view of some of the hundreds of flooded school buses the city government abandoned: “Some two hundred New Orleans school buses sit underwater, unused, enough to have evacuated 13,000 people. Why weren't those buses sent street by street to pick up people before the storm?” The rest of Myers' take on the buses follows.
Savidge wrapped up a piece on the flooding and all the E. Coli in the water: “There are some ecological concerns, especially as they begin pumping that filthy water out of New Orleans into either Lake Pontchartrain or the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists wonder, well what happens after that? City leaders simply say, one problem at a time.”
Monday’s Access Hollywood teased with a clip of rapper Kanye West’s blast on Friday’s Concert for Hurricane Relief broadcast on several NBC channels, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," followed by a clip of actor Matt Damon: “I let out a cheer.” The syndicated NBC Productions program also featured a clip of this ludicrous claim from West on the fund-raising show: “We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.” (For more about West's allegations, check this Friday night NewsBusters posting by Tim Graham.)
A few minutes later on Access Hollywood, co-host Nancy O’Dell touted how “it was Kanye West’s anti-Bush remarks that caught the attention of Matt Damon and Susan Sarandon in Italy” at the Venice Film Festival. Viewers then saw this from actress Susan Sarandon as she stood at some sort of an event: “I don’t think that’s an original thought, but it’s probably true.” (With Access Hollywood’s quick cut editing, it’s hard to know what people are specifically referring to.)
Immediately after Sarandon, Access Hollywood played a longer soundbite from Damon who claimed the White House press corps is too nice to Bush and thus “not one of them’s an honest journalist.” Full quote follows, as well as Colin Farrell’s charge that white people would have been rescued faster.
CBS News Sunday Morning “contributor” Nancy Giles, in the only commentary aired on the show on Sunday, delivered a blistering diatribe in which she charged that racism was behind the slow response to the hurricane victims in New Orleans, rationalized looting, claimed the real war is the one on poverty that’s being lost thanks to tax cuts, and mocked President Bush for visiting Iraq but skipping the Superdome -- thus showing he doesn’t give “a damn” about black people.
Giles asserted that “if the majority of the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were white people, they would not have gone for days without food and water” and insisted that “the real war is not in Iraq, but right here in America. It's the War on Poverty, and it's a war that's been ignored and lost.” She complained that “we've repeatedly given tax cuts to the wealthiest and left our most vulnerable American citizens to basically fend for themselves." Giles scolded Bush for finding photo-ops with some “black folks to hug” while he skipped “the messy parts of New Orleans.” She castigated Bush for how he “has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
Sounding like a parody of a liberal, but in all seriousness, NPR and ABC reporter Nina Totenberg charged on Inside Washington, at the end of a discussion about how National Guard equipment deployed to Iraq is supposedly impairing rescue efforts, that “for years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.” An astounded Charles Krauthammer pleaded: “You must be kidding here.” But Totenberg reaffirmed: “I’m not kidding.”
In fact, under the Bush administration domestic spending has soared much faster than inflation, a trend illustrated by the huge transportation bill this year packed with spending on infrastructure projects. And if infrastructure spending has suffered in some way, massive new spending on such things as a prescription entitlement program are just as responsible.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday afternoon repeatedly prodded reluctant Congressional Black Caucus member Elijah Cummings to blame racism for delays in rescuing hurricane victims in New Orleans. Blitzer asked Cummings on The Situation Room: “Do you believe, if it was, in fact, a slow response, as many now believe it was, was it in part the result of racism?” When Cummings demurred from such a blanket accusation, Blitzer wouldn’t give up: “There are some critics who are saying, and I don't know if you're among those, but people have said to me, had this happened in a predominantly white community, the federal government would have responded much more quickly. Do you believe that?"
Later, on CNN’s NewsNight, Aaron Brown took up the same agenda with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones: “What I'm wondering is, do you think black America's sitting there thinking, if these were middle class white people, there would be cruise ships in New Orleans?” When she wouldn’t take the bait, Brown lectured: “Now, look, here's the question, okay? And then we'll end this. Do you think the reason that they're not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren't there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, isn't there, is a matter of race and/or class?”
Opening the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams predicted that the "catastrophic hurricane strike, and the U.S. government response to it, will in the years or decades to come, perhaps necessitate a national discussion on race, on oil, politics, class, infrastructure, the environment and more.” ABC’s Ted Koppel charged on Nightline that “the slow response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina has led to questions about race, poverty and a seemingly indifferent government.”
ABC's Terry Moran this afternoon put politics at the forefront in hurricane disaster coverage when, on a storm-ravaged Biloxi street, he confronted President Bush about how “one of the things you hear here is people saying 'there's a lot of resources being devoted to Iraq. Now this country needs them.' And they're frustrated about that. What do you say to the people who say there's too much money being spent on Iraq and it's time to bring it home?” ABC News led its 1:22pm EDT special with anchor Dan Harris insisting that spending on Iraq is “a common complaint -- what we're hearing from many people about the resources being spent in Iraq.”
In the middle of a Thursday CBS Evening News story on the destruction in Slidell, Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, reporter Mark Strassmann showcased a distraught man “with a message for the President” who blasted Bush for how he responded in Iraq while not doing so for Louisiana. Anthony Nata charged: "You can go into Iraq and come in with big helicopters and set stuff up for people, but you can't do this for us? Come on, Bush. You can do better than that."
Over video of flattened houses, Strassmann set up that soundbite from Nata: “This community is a landscape of loss -- subdivision after subdivision flattened or flooded. Police whisper to you they suspect hundreds of bodies in those homes. Anthony and Edith Nata now live in a lean-to by the side of the road with a message for the President.”
Of course, going into Iraq took months of logistical and transport efforts.
Two days after CNN's Jack Cafferty demanded to know, as detailed in a Tuesday NewsBusters item, “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”and snidely suggested that “based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea,” on Thursday's Situation Room Cafferty took off after Bush again. At about 3:30pm EDT during his “Cafferty File” segment, he suddenly found the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader very wise and quoted approvingly from their Wednesday editorial: “'A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource....The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months following 9/11, has vanished.'” He piled on with how a New York Times editorial excoriated Bush “for 'appearing casual to the point of carelessness.'”
Cafferty soon launched a rant: “I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in that Superdome down there? I mean, what is, this is Thursday. This is Thursday. This storm happened five days ago. It's a disgrace.”