How Newsweek Ignored AP's Katrina Tape Clarification

AP hyped up the rest of the press last Wednesday about its "confidential" tape it wrongly suggested was evidence Bush lied about no one discussing the breaching of New Orleans levees before Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, AP backed down with a "clarification," admitting "The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking."

None of this is mentioned in Newsweek, which wraps up its issue on Sunday. Most egregiously ignoring the new AP line was Jonathan Alter's "Conventional  Wisdom Watch," which continued its Keith Olbermannesque streak of shameless Bush bashing. Bush received his traditional down arrow with the snarky line: "Falsely claimed no one could have predicted New Orleans levee breach. Let's go to the videotape!"

Later in the issue, a longer article by Richard Wolffe and Mark Hosenball carefully tap-dances around the embarrassing AP overreach. Notice how they keep all the attention on how Team Bush is the perpetually embarrassed party: 

Some storms never seem to blow over. Bush's senior staff thought they'd made it through the worst political fallout from Katrina. They had admitted their failings, pieced together a huge package to rebuild the gulf region, and were ready to move on. But the old video served as an excuse to replay Bush's post-hurricane interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, and his perplexing defense for the delayed rescue effort: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." Meanwhile, former FEMA chief Mike Brown just wouldn't let the subject die, breaking the Bush code of omerta to finger his old bosses in a seemingly endless round of TV interviews. Even the White House acknowledged the trouble. "The real damage of all this finger-pointing is... that it threatens to unravel what we've tried to knit back together," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy.

As his poll numbers sank back to their post-Katrina lows last week, Bush prepared to refocus attention on the billions of dollars he plans to spend on the Big Easy.

The liberal media sticks together, and their own code of omerta seems to suggest that no one at Newsweek will acknowledge it was an embarrassing week for the AP.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis