Bozell Column: Never-Ending Katrina Bias

Four years have elapsed since one of the most amazing cases of Republican-bashing media bias in the television era began. The media elites laugh when preachers say immorality causes God to send hurricanes, but they suggested with straight faces that Hurricane Katrina was a death sentence President Bush and his cronies brought to the less fortunate.

In the early spin, race-baiting rapper Kanye West and "objective" anchors like Brian Williams were in rhetorical sync: George Bush didn’t care about black people. On "The Daily Show," Williams said "everyone" knew Bush would have done better if white people were endangered: "Everyone watching the coverage all week, that kind of reached its peak last weekend, kept saying the same refrain: ‘How is this happening in the United States?’ And the other refrain was, ‘Had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have –’"

Williams couldn’t finish. The liberal audience drowned him in applause.

A year later, Williams was pressing Bush about being a bigot, harboring a "social or race or class aspect" in the federal response, then inviting in radical professor Michael Eric Dyson to denounce the Bush family as "clueless patricians."

It didn’t matter how many tens of thousands were saved by federal, state, and local first responders in helicopters and boats. The never-ending political commercial called the "news" was in heavy rotation. Today, it’s not considered the least bit impolite or inaccurate for hard-left blogs like the Daily Kos to proclaim New Orleans the scene of a mass murder: "We let the Republicans kill a major U.S. city. We let them laugh about it and walk away."

But here’s the amazing part: four years after the hurricane, the networks are still trashing the federal government for failing people who still live in federal trailers. None of them can manage to wonder when these "victims" will be responsible in any way for their own housing and circumstances. Or ponder for even a second the possibility that it’s now taxpayers who are the victims.

On the August 31 "CBS Evening News," investigative reporter Armen Keteyian was hot on this hackneyed story, and still projecting all the outrage onto the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), even though there was no mention of the healing, messianic force of President Obama.

"Two years after FEMA began moving people out of the trailers, contaminated with the toxic chemical formaldehyde," he proclaimed dramatically, "case workers tell CBS News the thousands left in the trailers aren’t trying to beat the system; they are victims of a system that’s proved incapable of helping them get out."

So the system that couldn’t put them in housing fast enough is now to blame for not letting them out?

Keteyian claimed to be an investigator, but he never spent any air time investigating precisely how many billions the taxpayers in Montana and Delaware and South Dakota have sent to the Gulf for Katrina aid, and he failed to devote one second to the concept that at some point, Katrina "victims" have proven themselves "incapable" or incompetent in fixing their own situation. The "news judgment" of the major networks implies there is no such thing as individual responsibility.

One of Keteyian’s victims, Kendall Deschamp, suggested all he needs is a little more taxpayer money. "A disabled state highway worker, Deschamp collects just $1,368 a month in benefits -- not enough, he says, to afford the sheetrock and new hot water heater he needs for the permit allowing him to move back into his four-bedroom home, which stands just a few tantalizing feet away."

A little Googling would show Keteyian that the name Kendall Deschamp shows up on a list of Mississippi recipients of taxpayer money in 2003 – $25,500 – two years before Katrina hit. The website doesn’t explain the reason for this subsidy. But wouldn’t it be fascinating to take one individual like Deschamp and ask how much this person has cost the taxpayer over the last four years? The networks wouldn’t dream of doing that.

Keteyian can only sing from the liberal songbook, that the federal government must provide a never-ending flow of support. "Today, these travel trailers stand as a symbol of a recovery gone wrong. A hurricane of coverup, chaos and incompetence. A system that remains, in the words of one FEMA worker on the ground here in Mississippi, one big disgusting mess."

The networks will also never wonder if this doesn’t punch a huge hole in their liberalism. If the federal government is a "hurricane of coverup, chaos, and incompetence," why should we hand over health care to them? Are the networks on this story really exposing what’s wrong? Or enabling it?

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center