After Blasting Government for Katrina Response, Media Silent as New York Ignores Sandy Victims

In the days following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, America's media elite blasted the former Bush administration for not providing relief supplies to residents who were affected by the storm. With a Democrat in the White House now, however, reporters are saying almost nothing as New Yorkers are being ignored by various levels of government.

With hundreds of thousands of his own residents are stuck with no power, water, gasoline or food on Staten Island, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has allowed the annual marathon that runs through the city's boroughs to continue as scheduled. That decision ought to have set off New York's media elite but instead, they are actually gearing up to cover the non-essential race and not condemning the city for diverting resources from helping storm victims to prep for the race.

The New York Post reported earlier today that there are three tractor-trailer-sized electrical generators sitting 24/7 in Central Park in the city devoted solely to providing power to the reporters and camera crews looking to cover the marathon. They are being paid for by the New York Road Runners Club, the private organization which puts on the race. One of the generators, however, is sitting completely idle functioning solely as a backup in case one of the other two generators fails.

But the generators are not the only things being withheld from Sandy victims. Actual city resources have been taken away from helping them and repurposed to help put on the marathon as the Post reports:

Meanwhile, sources told The Post precious city resources were also being diverted to prepare for the marathon, including more than a dozen NYPD flatbed trucks taken from disaster-relief work at sites including Breezy Point, Queens, where more than 100 homes burned to the ground.

The trucks, normally used to carry metal barricades for parades and other events, had been transporting residents hard hit by the storm.

But they’re all being recalled to get cleaned up so they can bring the barriers that will line the route of the marathon, a police source said.

“People could still use our help,” the source said. “We’re serving a purpose shuttling them back and forth.”

Plans call for up to 100 cops from all around the city to deploy the barricades today.

“You know what this is about? This is all so Bloomberg can stand at the finish line Sunday and tell the world we bounced back,” the source said.

“But these poor people on Breezy, who knows when and if they will bounce back?”

Where is the rest of the media on this story? People literally are resorting to dumpster diving in order to find any sort of food for themselves and the City of New York is trying to put on a silly running race?

New Yorkers are outraged at this decision but a search of the home pages of New York's local ABC, NBC, and CBS stations and the New York Daily News revealed that only the local CBS affiliate had an actual story about the controversy. It was heavily based on an Associated Press report, however and not featured very prominently on the site's homepage.

The local ABC channel had any sort of story about the controversy. It was only an Associated Press story, however, which may or may not have been automatically posted to the website. Many websites automatically post stories received from the AP into their archives with no intervention from editors. The story cannot be found on the WABC homepage.

What's even more disgraceful on the part of the media is that Bloomberg actually had a press conference where he was asked about his preposterous decision. This ought to have made the story easy for the lazy journalists to report on the controversy, especially since Bloomberg brought up how the marathon was run a full two months after the 9/11 attacks devastated a small portion of the city. Anyone could tell that was an absurd comparison considering that Hurricane Sandy only just days ago was doing damage to large portions of New York.

As writer DrewM at the Ace of Spades blog notes, this is a time where the media expressing some outrage could actually be meaningful:

The people crying for help aren't idiots, they may or not have had emergency supplies on hand, but it doesn't matter. Anything they had is gone. It was all washed away by the sea that left nothing behind but destruction and misery. This isn't about the reaction of the government, it's about not hampering relief efforts in the middle of a disaster. Make no mistake, the disaster is ongoing in many places and will be for days and weeks.

I'm a "life must go on" guy but it must go on AFTER everyone has been not made whole but at least has received basic emergency aid. It goes on AFTER a relief supply system has been put in place. It goes AFTER everyone has been found and AFTER the dead are buried.

What Michael Bloomberg is doing is putting the NYC Marathon over the health and well being of the people of New York City.

There are people without food, water and clothing across New York City today. All of those things will be handed out to runners on Sunday. Might there not be a better use for those vital supplies? If you have no food or water I guess you need to sign up for the marathon to get some.

Update 18:43. The marathon has been cancelled.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013