As MRC’s Brent Baker pointed out, NBC’s Lisa Myers did a tremendously balanced report on Thursday’s “Nightly News” concerning videos of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. With this recent media frenzy generating a new round of finger pointing largely in the direction of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it seems that there is another video from around this period that is deserving of greater press coverage.
As reported by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth on October 8, 2005, Lisa Myers did a piece for the NBC “Nightly News” on October 7 addressing a number of key mistakes that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco made during this crisis which the media now seem content to ignore. In this segment, Myers played a video recorded by CNN wherein Blanco admitted that she was slow in bringing in federal troops to the area, and actually waited until Wednesday, August 31 to ask the president for this assistance. In addition, the piece specifically addressed how she and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ignored warnings by experts that it would take 48 hours to evacuate the city, and, instead, after “[praying] that the impact will soften,” issued the mandatory evacuation just 20 hours before Katrina made landfall.
What follows is a transcript of this segment as transcribed by Wilmouth, along with an MSN video link (hat tip to Gary Hall). Also following is a video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz of Expose the Left of the CNN segment with Gov. Blanco. Pay particular attention to how Blanco is grilled by CNN's Miles O'Brien, and her responses.
John Seigenthaler: "In the aftermath of the hurricanes, NBC News has been taking a hard look at response failures by government officials, and there are plenty to go around. We've already brought you reviews of federal and city actions. Well, tonight, NBC's senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers focuses on the performance of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco."
Lisa Myers: "It was Governor Blanco's first big disaster, and on that Saturday, less than 48 hours before Katrina hit, she reassured the state."
Governor Kathleen Blanco (D-LA): "I believe that we are really prepared. That's the one thing that I've always been able to brag about."
Myers: "Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday."
Blanco: "And we're going to pray that the impact will soften."
Myers: "She and the mayor waited until Sunday, only 20 hours before Katrina came ashore, to order a mandatory evacuation, the first of what disaster experts and Louisiana insiders say were serious mistakes by the governor."
State Senator Donald Cravins (D-LA): "It certainly appeared that there was a lot of indecisiveness exhibited by the governor in the early stages of the disaster."
Myers: "A key criticism, the governor's slowness in requesting federal troops. She told the President she needed help, but it wasn't until Wednesday that she specifically asked for 40,000 troops. That day, in a whispered conversation with her staff caught on camera, the governor appears to second-guess herself."
Blanco: "I really need to call for the military."
Unidentified female aide: "Yes, you do. Yes, you do."
Blanco: "And I should have started that in the first call."
Myers: "Another key mistake, experts say, Blanco's lateness in getting the Louisiana National Guard, which she commands, on the streets to try to establish security."
Jane Bullock, Former Clinton FEMA Official: "It would have been better if it had happened sooner."
Myers: "And remember the chaos at the Convention Center? We now know there were at least 250 Guardsmen deployed in another part of that building. But they were engineers, not police, so they were not directed to help restore order or even to share their food and water."
Colonel Doug Mouton, Louisiana National Guard: "I think we would've hurt a lot of people if we'd tried to take that on."
Myers: "The governor would not say whether she made the decision not to use these troops, and tells NBC News that her state's response to Katrina was, quote, 'very well-planned' and 'executed with great precision and effectiveness.'"
Roy Fletcher, Louisiana Political Consultant: "How could any governor argue that they have done what they can do when people were left on an interstate without food and water for a week?"
Myers: "The governor has said she takes responsibility for what went wrong, but insists her biggest mistake was believing FEMA officials who told her help was on the way. Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington."