Brown and Blanco Grilled on Early Show
The Early Show on CBS treated FEMA Director Mike Brown and Governor Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) to tough questioning, although Brown was seared by co-host Hannah Storm while Harry Smith, reporting from New Orleans, only slightly singed the state's chief executive, and mostly on relief efforts underway now, not on what the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans could have done before the hurricane.
Below are the questions to Brown and Blanco respectively as I transcribed them.:
2 September 2005 (Friday)
Questions to Mike Brown, FEMA director
began @ 0709 EDT
Hannah Storm, from CBS's New York studio: "It has now been five days since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast and little help has arrived in New Orleans for the thousands of people stranded there and in very bad shape. One city official said the response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been quote, 'completely inadequate and a national disgrace.'"
Storm: "Mike Brown is the director of FEMA, good morning, Mike. We're five days into this, people still don't have the basics: food, water, medicine. Why has the response been so slow, why has the mayor of New Orleans issued and emergency SOS?"
Storm: "Are you slow to get information, you said you learned about the convention center, there's 25,000 people there, there are dead bodies there, there's reports of people being raped, fights breaking out."
Storm: "So Mike, what are your priorities now, because we're looking at no food and water, we're looking at these horrific security issues, all of these, tens of thousands of people that need to be evacuated, where's the priority, because it seems to be an inadequate response in all these areas."
Storm: "Why, why is that, Mike? I know that you identified this as a major problem that New Orleans had potential for great disaster, you were so worried about it, but what it is that you did not anticipate?"
Storm: "The President is touring the area today. He has been criticized for the slow response here, does he understand how grave the situation is, and what has he communicated to you directly about what needs to be done here?"
Storm: "Mike, you said you now have access to support by the military, but shouldn't combat troops have been called in earlier or even more National Guard, somebody, shouldn't somebody have come in there earlier to secure this city?"
Storm: "What about these poor people that couldn't get out of the city, was there anyway to evacuate more of these people before this storm hit, they knew it was coming?"
Storm: "And Mike, finally, what do you say to people in America who are looking at these pictures, and seeing these refugees, people walking out on foot from New Orleans, no place to go, people are asking themselves, how can this happen in America, why can't we take care of our own people?"
Storm: "Well, we certainly appreciate your time this morning, we know you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. FEMA director Mike Brown, good luck with everything."
### @ 0714 EDT ###
@ 0734 EDT
Questions to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D-LA)
Harry Smith, live from Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans, LA: "What we keep hearing over and over again, especially from people around New Orleans is the response to this disaster has not been adequate. How do you respond to that?"
Smith: "We've been watching these pictures for the last couple of days. People around America are asking how can this happen here? How can there be this anarchy in the streets? How can we have tens of thousands of people who are left in their own sewage? Do you have an answer for that?"
Smith: "Governor, governor, governor, the people in this town would say why didn't you ask for that on Tuesday?
Smith: "Here's the question of the moment, I think maybe one of the most pressing needs are these hospitals where they literally are running out of food, they're running out of medical supplies, will these hospitals be evacuated today?"
Smith: "But the last thing, and we'll let you go because you've got so much on your plate here as everyone well knows. You've made the decision to order policemen, Guardsmen on the street, shoot-to-kill to looters. Just give me your thinking."
Smith: "Governor Blanco, we thank you for your time, good luck. You've got a monster task in front of you. Thank you so much for your time."