For Katrina Anniversary, CNN Runs Glowing Segment on Democratic Frontrunners

Soledad O’Brien’s segment on "some of the leading White House hopefuls" and their recent visits to New Orleans on Monday’s "The Situation Room" might leave one wondering where the "Paid for by the DNC" caption in small font was hiding. O’Brien’s report juxtaposed a clip from a recent speech by Barack Obama with stock footage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and featured only the three Democrat frontrunners. Clearly, other "White House hopefuls" have visited the hurricane-damaged area in and around New Orleans, but CNN chose to focus on Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.

Video (0:51): Real (1.39 MB) or Windows (1.56 MB), plus MP3 audio (373 kB).

The segment, which aired 40 minutes into the 4 pm hour of Monday’s "The Situation Room," previewed O’Brien’s upcoming "Hurricane Katrina recovery summit" for some of the presidential candidates. Though O’Brien mentioned Republican candidate Duncan Hunter’s participation in the summit, she chose to highlight the two other participants - Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, as well as Barack Obama, who had visited New Orleans the previous day.

Besides the Obama/stock footage juxtaposition, which came at the very beginning of the report, it served a reminder of the fact that John Edwards announced his candidacy in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

A transcript of O’Brien’s introduction and segment from Monday’s "The Situation Room:"

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: In just about three hours, we're going be kicking off a Hurricane Katrina recovery summit. That means we get to sit down with some of the presidential hopefuls to talk about their strategies. Hillary Clinton is going to be here, John Edwards also, Duncan Hunter. Barack Obama was here yesterday in New Orleans, and one of the things that he said was that he planned on making rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina a top priority.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast long before that failure showed up on the television set. America failed you again during Katrina. We cannot, and we must not, fail for a third time.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Barack Obama unveiling his plan to speed up recovery in New Orleans.

OBAMA: We need to make sure that the hardest-hit areas get attention they need, and that the jobs of the rebuilding go to the folks who have been displaced.

O'BRIEN: The senator from Illinois is also calling for forgiving medical school loans for doctors who set up practice here, and wants to establish a local office of the Drug Enforcement Agency to help fight crime.

Tonight, rivals Clinton and Edwards will lay out their plans to get New Orleans back on its feet.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe it is an American responsibility to rebuild New Orleans, not just one of Louisiana and New Orleans, but all of us working together.

O'BRIEN: The Democrats are spending a lot of time in this city. Edwards formally kicked off his campaign here.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm here in New Orleans to -- and in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans -- to announce that I'm a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

O'BRIEN: So, why all the attention? Because, besides Iraq, arguably, no other event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina.

EDWARDS: The money's not getting to the ground. It's not getting to the people who need help. I think some of it is bureaucracy. I think some of it is red tape. But these are all things the president of the United States could do something about.

O’Brien’s line that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina" demonstrates the mainstream media’s motivation for putting together reports like this. It serves to help the Democrat frontrunners, all of whom are featured in the report, though most of the focus is on Obama and Edwards.

Host Wolf Blitzer asked O’Brien about her visit to New Orleans, and reminded viewers that she had reported from Louisiana during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

WOLF BLITZER: A lot of us remember, Soledad -- I think most of our viewers -- your coverage right at the time of Katrina. What's it like to come back there now, two years later, and see sights that you saw two years ago, obviously? Has it gotten better? Is it the same? Give us a little flavor.

O'BRIEN: Well, I would say the 20 percent of the city that's been rebuilt looks fantastic, looks absolutely great. If you're staying in one of the hotels along Canal Street, you won't be disappointed. Eighty percent of the city that's been damaged, the neighborhoods look pretty bad. A lot of work has not been done.

It would be hard to verify O’Brien’s claim, but since Blitzer reminded the viewers of her coverage of the Katrina aftermath, it would be appropriate to take a look at this. Her past reporting (examples of which can be viewed here, here, and here) demonstrates her obvious liberal bias on the issue.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center