As was reported yesterday on NewsBusters, Democratic Senator John Kerry wasn't challenged on the Today show after he claimed that 53% of Americans don't graduate from high school. Well on this morning's Early Show, New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin made an equally silly claim, "50% of all residents in the United States live along the Gulf Coast." I listened to the soundbite several times to ensure I heard him correctly.
The claim came during an interview with Harry Smith about President Bush's State of the Union Address and the challenges in rebuilding New Orleans, but was Harry Smith even listening to Nagin? One would think a competent journalist would have picked up on such an outragreous claim and challenged Nagin on it, or asked Nagin to clarify his remarks. Would Smith had let that slide if it were a Republican making such assertions?
A transcript of the exchange in question follows below.
Harry Smith: "That's quite all right. Let me ask you a question here. The President paid scant attention to New Orleans, the whole Gulf Coast in general and Katrina during his State of the Union Address two nights ago. What is your reaction to that?"
Ray Nagin: "Well, you know, my reaction is similar to most people along the Gulf Coast. We were very disappointed. We thought that the President would come out and reaffirm his commitment to rebuild in the Gulf Coast, which is a very important portion of the country. 50% of all residents in the United States live along the Gulf Coast. So, you would think that he would demonstrate a firmer commitment to rebuild than what we heard."
Nagin’s exaggerated claim wasn’t his only inaccurate statement of the day. At the very beginning of the interview, after he is introduced, he calls his host by the wrong name, "David." The transcript follows:
Harry Smith: "A new congressional report on the poor federal response to hurricane Katrina notes "a lack of leadership." It suggests the White House and the Homeland Security office both failed to take decisive action. Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was on Capitol Hill to answer some questions too yesterday. Mayor Nagin joins us this morning from the crescent city. Good morning Mr. Mayor?"
Ray Nagin: "Good morning David how are you?"
Smith: "It's Harry Smith here, but that's all right, we'll keep going."
Smith shrugged it off after correcting him, but what else could Harry do? It’s not like Harry hasn’t forgotten names while conducting interviews before.