Media Let Duncan Off the Hook for Katrina Comment, Blasted GOP Rep for the Same

On Saturday, NB's Noel Sheppard reported on this statement made by Education Secretary Arne Duncan: "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster. It took hurricane Katrina to wake up the community and say we have to do better."

CNN host T.J. Holmes read that quote aloud during a broadcast. "Of course I agree" with Duncan's statement, said one guest, CNN contributor Steve Perry. The host and correspondents went back and forth about how the hurricane may or may not have helped public schools, never once impugning Duncan's motives.

Contrast this media response with the response to former Republican Congressman from Louisiana Richard Baker's statement regarding Katrina: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." It sparked outrage among the liberal media (h/t NRO's John Miller).

"The federal government might as well have put an ad in the paper: 'Blacks Not Wanted' " remarked one Washington Post columnist. A WaPo reporter wrote that the statement, among others, had "roiled long-troubled racial waters in New Orleans."

The New York Times also bemoaned supposed race-baiting in Baker's remark, saying it "did little for the cause of racial trust." Another Times reporter erroneously claimed that Baker had suggested "that the storm did the city a favor in terms sweeping away the poor."

He of course said no such thing. Baker was noting the inability of the Louisiana political class to improve low income housing in New Orleans. Katrina gave them the chance to start over.

In discussing Duncan's comments, CNN's Martin noted that the New Orleans public education system "was totally destroyed, so therefore they can build from ground zero… this was the opportunity, that because it was destroyed this is how you can now fix it and repair it and build it up."

Or, as Paul Vallas, superintendent of the Recovery School District in Louisiana put it, "What he's saying is that people were not serious about school reform [before the hurricane struck], and if they were serious, there wasn't any progress being made. And post-Katrina, there is."

Secretary Duncan's point and Baker's point are virtually identical. But, of course, since Duncan is a Democrat appointed by President Obama, the media give him the benefit of the doubt. He is not raise-baiting or stoking the fires of discrimination. Only Republicans do that.