CBS on Tuesday night delivered a sarcastic look at President Bush's visit to the Gulf coast. After reciting a list of problems people are having in New Orleans, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi jumped to a soundbite of Bush in Mississippi, declaring: “Every time I come back here, I see progress." Alfonsi gratuitously pointed out that Bush was “speaking inside an air-conditioned tent” and noted how “he toured a Folgers plant in Louisiana” but, she stressed, “small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception.” Then, over video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts in New Orleans, she countered: “This is the reality.” Alfonsi made it personal, holding Bush responsible for the frustrations of a French Quarter restaurant owner: “After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee.” (That cute line ran over video of Bush, in a sweat-soaked shirt, shaking hands at the coffee plant.) Restaurant owner Arly Questa demanded: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."
The Gainesville Sun reports that the Alligator, the student newspaper of the University of Florida, has come under fire for a cartoon featuring rapper Kanye West and Condoleezza Rice. West stated during a nationally televised telethon that Bush doesn't care about black people.
"Andy Marlette's cartoon shows black rapper Kanye West, who two weeks ago said President George W. Bush doesn't care about black people at a fund-raiser for Hurricane Katrina victims, holding a playing card labeled 'The Race Card' while standing next to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The bubble over Rice's head contains the words: 'Nigga Please!'
It was just a comment made in passing, but it was very revealing in its own way.
On this morning's Today show, in discussing incipient Hurricane Rita, Katie Couric observed "if Rita turns into a hurricane, it will be the seventh." She then added pointedly added "there have been a lot this year!"
We can all read Katie's 'subliminable' message:
"Gotta be the global warming/Bush's failure to sign the Kyoto Treaty/hole in the ozone layer/Halliburton/VRWC/Republican SUVs and who knows, probably the lack of 'free' national health care."
There's only one small problem with Katie the Climatologist's theory. Far from being "a lot," seven hurricanes in a year is very typical, and far from the recent high of 12, which occurred 36 years ago.
"Minister" Nashim Nzinga (actually I think his name is "Hashim", not "Nashim"), a leader in the Black Panthers (a communist, racist, and violent group) appeared on Hannity & Colmes tonight. I can't describe this segment in words, it's probably best that you view it. I will just say this man believes Jews knew about 9/11 beforehand, there is some type of "mother ship" guarding earth, and white people intentionally blew up the levee in New Orleans to kill blacks.
As Noel Sheppard posted on NewsBusters on Sunday, George Stephanopoulos' “entire twenty minutes” with Bill Clinton on This Week “appeared to be an opportunity for President Clinton to defame the current administration while pumping up his own legacy. Assisting this goal was Stephanopoulos who, regardless of what his former employer said, didn’t once challenge the accuracy of any of Clinton’s numerous misstatements of fact.” NBC's Tim Russert also got a sit-down with Clinton, at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, and did little more than toss up talking point cues to him in the taped interview aired on Sunday's Meet the Press.
Russert was even easier on Clinton than Stephanopoulos, pitching up such softballs as, "Do you think the war in Iraq has hurt the U.S. image in the world?," "Do you think global warming influences, effects, creates hurricanes or the severity of them?" and on paying for the Iraq war and Katrina, "How can we afford that? What is it going to do to the deficit? And what should we do about tax cuts and spending cuts?" Russert plugged the interview: "In his first Meet the Press interview since 1997, former President Bill Clinton reflects on poverty, religion, and politics 2008, right here on Meet the Press."
The Los Angeles Times reports that NBC anchor Brian Williams "couldn't bring himself" to stay away from New Orleans for very long.
"The experience has also moved him to consider other areas of coverage that he says need to be addressed."
And what a surprise, the other "areas" that need to be covered are mostly issues that MoveOn activists hold dear.
"I will be asking my network to lead a discussion on the issues of class, race, energy, the environment, disaster planning, Iraq — all those things and more," Williams said. "This encompasses so many of the major issues of our time."
As Brent Baker reported two weeks ago, Williams wondered, "had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have--"
Nina Totenberg's call for higher taxes makes a little more, but not much, "sense" when you consider that she thinks giving to faith-based charities just ends up rewarding the President's political supporters. A few minutes after Totenberg called for a "Katrina tax" on Sunday's Inside Washington, she remarked:
The next question is going to be the execution of this. You know, in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, the charities listed on the FEMA website for people to give to, 20 of the 22 charities were faith-based. If we end up with a Halliburton Revival, so to speak, and the President’s cronies in terms of politics getting this money, it will be worse for Republicans. It is very important for him that this be done right.
Of course, if FEMA specifically and the Bush administration at-large are genuinely as incompetent and ineffective as Totenberg believes, how does throwing more money into Big Government's collection plate solve anything?
It's got to be hard for Today and its MSM cohorts. In the wake of President Bush's inspired speech, with its ambitious agenda for rebuilding the gulf coast, attention is turning toward the future and away from the 'good old days.' You know: that period right after Katrina hit when the liberal media were in their glory, reveling in the halting governmental response, focusing almost entirely on the shortcomings of the Bush administration.
Gripped by nostalgia for that glorious recent past, and being the good recyclers that liberals are, the Today show took a walk down memory lane this morning, re-running some of the most inflammatory footage from the hurricane's immediate aftermath.
NBC reporter Mark Mullen, live in New Orleans, introduced file footage of a black woman at the notorious Convention Center, holding a baby as she screamed at the camera "get us out of here, we want to get out of here."
The Washington Post reports that the Lincoln Center hurricane fundraiser (broadcast in condensed form Saturday night on PBS) carried some liberal speechifying in it from celebrities.
Unlike other benefit concerts, "Higher Ground" was not marked by an apolitical tone: "When the hurricane struck, it did not turn the region into a Third World country . . . it revealed one," actor Danny Glover told the audience in a speech with Harry Belafonte. "Katrina was not unforeseeable," Belafonte said. "It was the result of a political structure that subcontracts its responsibility to private contractors and abdicates its responsibility altogether."
As was reported here yesterday, regardless of how accurately Rasmussen Reports predicted the 2004 election results, America’s media continue to ignore their polling data. With special thanks to a NewsBusters reader named “Mass Liberal", it is evident that another report from Rasmussen just released this morning will likely get absolutely no air or print play, either.
What will likely not get reported is Rasmussen’s finding that 50% of Americans favor the president’s proposal for reconstructing New Orleans, or that more African-Americans support this plan than white Americans:
“Fifty percent (50%) of Americans favor the main proposal from that speech--a federal commitment of $200 billion to help rebuild New Orleans. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are opposed and 23% are not sure.”
“Fifty-seven percent (57%) of black voters support the federal reconstruction spending while just 17% are opposed. Among white voters, 49% favor the spending and 29% are opposed. This is the first Bush Administration proposal hat has attracted more support from black Americans than from white Americans.”
In what has become a daily ritual, another New York Times columnist thoroughly defamed and abused the president in an op-ed piece today. This morning, Frank Rich wrote:
“ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush.”
Also of note, Rich demonstrated how Cindy Sheehan – remember her? – was just a pawn of the media while referencing how another of his cronies is now equating Katrina to Vietnam:
“It came only after the plan to heap all the blame on the indeed blameworthy local Democrats failed to lift Mr. Bush's own record-low poll numbers. It came only after America's highest-rated TV news anchor, Brian Williams, started talking about Katrina the way Walter Cronkite once did about Vietnam.”
What a difference a month makes: In August, it was Cindy Sheehan that represented Bush’s Vietnam as far as the were press concerned as reported by NewsBusters squad members here, here, and here. I guess anything that offers the media an opportunity to criticize the performance of the president is now akin to Vietnam.
Rich than predictably moved the discussion in a racial direction:
On the Inside Washington TV talk show aired on three Washington, DC stations over the weekend, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg, decked out in NewsBusters orange, suggested that President Bush’s Thursday night speech “would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.’" Host Gordon Peterson repeated her point: "You want more taxes." Totenberg chuckled as she reiterated: "I want more taxes, yes." Two weeks ago, as recounted in this NewsBusters item with a video clip, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: “For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.”
Peter King (R-NY) the new chairman of the House of Representatives' homeland security committee blasted the media's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. King made his remarks on the radio program of Linda Chavez while being interviewed by substitute host Steve Malzberg. NewsMax.com picked up his remarks:
"The FEMA of ten years ago certainly did not do any better job under much less comparable circumstances than FEMA did this time. [...]
"Of everyone involved, certainly they were the least culpable," the House Homeland chief said. "I think the main fault was the state and city of New Orleans - they did a terrible job."
The New York Republican added: "Our response plans are based on the premise that the local first responders will handle the initial onslaught. We weren't expecting that the local government would do absolutely nothing."
According to this article, British PM Tony Blair and former U.S. president Bill Clinton feel the same way about the BBC's Katrina coverage.
With the all-but-corporate death of the UPI, the AP is the main American source for news in the United States. Associated Press articles are mindlessly quoted by newspapers across the nation. Many local radio and TV stations rip and read either directly from the AP, or indirectly from local newspapers which use the AP.
Therefore, it’s reprehensible that the AP, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit, has not found out that there WAS an Evacuation Plan for New Orleans and southern Louisiana which was not followed. The Plan is on the Internet and available to anyone who can push a few buttons.
Yet here is the lede of an AP story today (17 September) by Rita Beamish:
“As far back as eight years ago, Congress ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a massive hurricane, but the money instead went to studying the causeway bridge that spans the city's Lake Pontchartrain, officials say.”
As reported here yesterday by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, Dean Reynolds of ABC News had a hard time Thursday evening finding people who didn’t like President Bush’s address to the nation concerning Hurricane Katrina. Oddly, the Associated Press’s Angie Wagner didn’t have such difficulties. Of course, the AP went to seven different states to ensure they got the answers they were were looking for:
“‘He had no intention of coming to help us,’ said Samuel Lewis, 31, an evacuee who watched the speech in a Houston shelter. ‘He should have been there 24 hours after. He is telling me he is going to rebuild my city. Still, when I go back home, you are going to rebuild my city, but what about all the stuff I lost? What about jobs?’"
“‘A day late and a dollar short,’ said 18-year-old Wayne State University student Rachel Aviles in Detroit. ‘I think he's more responding to the negative media than responding to fix the problem.’"
Washington Post Staff Writer Dan Balz can hardly seem to contain himself while writing a post-Hurricane Katrina analysis that covers everything from President Bush's sagging poll numbers, to "the fabric of an already divided society." As mentioned today by Newsbusters own Clay Waters, the mainstream media--like the N Y Times--are offering up these "news analysis" stories without any real analysis aside from essentially blaming Bush.
Balz, though, seems to revel in his analysis, engaging in a bit of shadenfruede. Balz starts this way: "The main text of President Bush's nationally televised address last night was the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but the clear subtext was the rebuilding of a presidency that is now at its lowest point ever, confronted by huge and simultaneous challenges at home and abroad -- and facing a country divided along partisan and racial lines."
Friday brings New York Times reporter Richard Stevenson's latest biased "news analysis," "Amid the Ruins, a President Tries to Reconstruct His Image, Too." Tasteful metaphor, eh?
Twice in his story in the news pages, Stevenson cites as fact Bush's "faltering response" to Katrina, while again ignoring state and local (and Democratic) culpability.
"The violence of Hurricane Katrina and his faltering response to it have left to Mr. Bush the task not just of physically rebuilding a swath of the United States, but also of addressing issues like poverty and racial inequality that were exposed in such raw form by the storm. The challenge would be immense for any president, but is especially so for Mr. Bush. He is scrambling to assure a shaken, angry nation not only that is he up to the task but also that he understands how much it disturbed Americans to see their fellow citizens suffering and their government responding so ineffectually.
"So for nearly 30 minutes, he stood in a largely lifeless New Orleans and, to recast his presidency in response to one of the nation's most devastating disasters, sought to show that he understands the suffering. He spoke of housing and health care and job training. He reached with rhetorical confidence for the uplifting theme that out of tragedy can emerge a better society, and he groped for what he lost in the wind and water more than two weeks ago: his well-cultivated image as a strong leader."
When it comes to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Times has never tried to pin or suggest blame lies anywhere but with President George W. Bush, despite ample evidence elsewhere of congressional and local failures. Stevenson continues mining that same vein:
"But if the speech helped him clear his first hurdle by projecting the aura of a president at the controls, it probably did not, by itself, get him over a second: his need to erase or at least blur the image of a White House that was unresponsive to the plight of some of the country's most vulnerable citizens and failed to manage the government competently. Whether he can put a floor under his falling poll numbers, restore his political authority and move ahead with his agenda will determine not just the course of his second term but the strength of his party, which by virtue of having controlled both the White House and the Congress for more than five years has trouble credibly pinning the blame elsewhere."
The Today show brought Bill Clinton in this morning to provide color commentary on President Bush's speech of last night. Bill wouldn't bite on the worst of Matt Lauer's attempts to have the ex-President condemn his successor.Right out of the box, Lauer tried to lure Clinton into criticizing the nation's lack of preparedness.
Lauer: "Were you surprised . . . that four years after 9/11 with so much time, energy and money spent on preparedness in this country that we seemed so ill-prepared to handle a catastrophe in a major American city?"
Clinton didn't swing at the softball, observing that "handling the aftermath of a natural disaster is different from preventing a terrorist attack." He observed that the federal government has been "quite good at [preventing terrorist attacks]" then curiously added "in spite of the breakdowns that led up to 9/11."
ABC News producers probably didn't hear what they expected when they sent Dean Reynolds to the Houston Astrodome's parking lot to get reaction to President Bush's speech from black evacuees from New Orleans. Instead of denouncing Bush and blaming him for their plight, they praised Bush and blamed local officials. Reynolds asked Connie London: "Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?" She rejected the premise: "No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in.” She pointed out: “They had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people."
Not one of the six people interviewed on camera had a bad word for Bush -- despite Reynolds' best efforts. Reynolds goaded: "Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that's nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?" Brenda Marshall answered, "No, I didn't," prompting Reynolds to marvel to anchor Ted Koppel: "Very little skepticism here.”
Reynolds pressed another woman: “Did you feel that the President was sincere tonight?" She affirmed: "Yes, he was." Reynolds soon wondered who they held culpable for the levee breaks. Unlike the national media, London did not blame supposed Bush-mandated budget cuts: "They've been allocated federal funds to fix the levee system, and it never got done. I fault the mayor of our city personally. I really do."
Last week, Brent Baker reported here that Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” joked about Hurricane Katrina being George Bush’s Monica Lewinsky. Today, CNN’s political analyst Bill Schneider said virtually the same thing on “Lou Dobbs Tonight”…but HE wasn’t kidding (video to follow):
“Sooner or later, every leader gets in trouble. President Reagan had Iran-Contra, President Clinton had Monica Lewinsky. Like Bush they had a base that helped them get through it.”
As for that base, Schneider strongly suggested that the people in the country who are still supporting the president after this natural disaster are doing so on blind faith totally devoid of logic or common sense:
Newsweek uses gross misinformation to paint grim, untrue picture of New Orleans and U.S. poverty.
For two weeks since hurricane Katrina made landfall, America’s media have been presenting startling images of an impoverished New Orleans. Unfortunately, many journalists have been as inaccurate with their economic assessments of this region as they were in estimating how much time it would take to drain all the water from the city.
While cover stories at TIME and U.S. News and World Report this week focused on the flawed response to Katrina and who was to blame, Newsweek’s senior editor, Jonathan Alter, presented an array of inaccurate statistics to exaggerate socio-economic problems nationally as well as in the hurricane-affected areas of New Orleans.
In his cover story, “The Other America,” Alter painted a picture of life in this country, and on the Bayou, that is substantially worse than reality: “But this disaster may offer a chance to start a skirmish, or at least make Washington think harder about why part of the richest country on earth looks like the Third World.”
Pre-Hurricane Katrina, in early August, I noted how CBS's The Early Show ignored the FBI raid on the home of Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson. Over a month and a week later, Jefferson is at the center of another controversy, this time involving the National Guard. The Early Show so far has ignored this story as well.
WASHINGTON -- A Louisiana congressman being escorted by National Guard troops removed personal items from his home in flooded New Orleans while military helicopters and emergency workers raced to save thousands of victims.
Romenesko has highlighted for journalists across the country today a Washington City Paper article pounding for more attention to be paid to an article on Socialist Worker online. Contributors Lorrie Beth Slonsky and Larry Bradshaw were in New Orleans during the hurricane and its aftermath, and claim that police in Gretna, Louisiana, would not let them cross the bridge, and even fired weapons at the evacuees. The details of this story have appeared in some media outlets, but one thing is for sure: the cable networks aren't interested in providing the Socialist Worker credentials of Slonsky and Bradshaw.
On MSNBC's Hardball Monday, Chris Matthews interviewed the duo, clearly wearing yellow peace buttons on their black shirts, but in no way mentioned their hard-left, crush-capitalism backgrounds. (The website explains Socialist Worker believes "Only mass struggles of the workers themselves can destroy the capitalist system of oppression and exploitation.") On-screen graphics read only "San Francisco paramedic" and "Trapped in New Orleans." Matthews let the duo talk without almost any questioning, until the end, when he wanted to underline that this could be a racist incident, right?
The New York Times buries its latest poll story on Bush on Page 18, perhaps recognizing the lack of news in the findings. Yet reporters Todd Purdum and Marjorie Connelly try their best in, "Support for Bush Continues to Drop as More Question His Leadership Skills, Poll Shows."
They open: "A summer of bad news from Iraq, high gasoline prices, economic unease and now the devastation of Hurricane Katrina has left President Bush with overall approval ratings for his job performance and handling of Iraq, foreign policy and the economy at or near the lowest levels of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll."
The Times admits, contrary to its headline, that "The hurricane, alone, does not appear to have taken any significant toll on Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating, which remains stuck virtually where it has been since early summer. But the findings do suggest that the slow federal response to the hurricane has increased public doubts about the Bush administration's effectiveness. Fifty-six percent of Americans said they were now less confident about the government's ability to respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster."
But the Times doesn't mention in its story that the public perception of Bush's handling of Katrina has actually improved this week, from a 20-point gap in a CBS poll a week ago (38%-58% approval-disapproval) to a 6-point gap in this latest poll (44%-50%). For that tidbit you have to dig into the poll questions online. (It's Question 8.)
Is the Today show stuck in a time warp? Could Today be trying to stem its dipping ratings by doing a reality-show version of 'Groundhog Day,' the hit movie in which every day was the same for Bill Murray?
Well, we didn't hear Cher singing "I Got You Babe" in the background, as she did when the alarm would go off for Murray, but other than that, there was an eery resemblance.
Readers might want to check my blog. They'll find that the very last entry was entitled "Today Show Revels in Prez' Polls."
Well guess what? Different day, same . . . stuff.
There was Katie Couric at her post, once again interviewing Tim Russert.
And once again, the topic was the latest round of poll numbers. The screen legend read "The President's Plunging Poll Numbers."
Following President Bush's Tuesday news conference in which he took responsibility for federal mistakes following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, some news organizations left out the word federal in their reportage, creating the possible impression that Bush had shouldered blame for state and local failures.
National Review’s Stephen Spruiell noticed this later in the day when he spotted a CBSNews.com story which left out the federal. He blogged on it Tuesday and again yesterday after CBS News acknowledged the problem, albeit only on its blog and not in the story itself.
"We could have been more clear higher up in the piece, adding the word federal before government," CBSNews.com director of news and operations Michael Sims is quoted as saying.
He's right, of course, but this episode raises a question about the CBS editorial process since the web story has yet to be fixed (as of this writing), despite the fact that the AP story on which the CBS page was based was changed later in the day. Click here for the first version of the AP report, and here for the revised edition which corrects the record.
As Mark Finklestein noted in his earlier post Today can't seem to stay away from the same old themes.
Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show first with Ophelia news but quickly got to Bush's falling poll numbers: "Good morning the storm that won't leave. Hurricane Ophelia is battering the North Carolina coast for a second straight day. Damage control. President Bush heads back to the Gulf Coast for a primetime address. Can he turn around those plunging poll numbers?"
At 7:08am Katie Couric and Tim Russert explored Bush's falling poll numbers in depth:
Katie Couric: "Alright let's talk about these latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal numbers Tim and as you know the President's approval rating according to this poll is at an all-time low of just 40 percent and when you look at how that compares to his approval rating following September 11th which was 88 percent it's quite dramatic isn't it?"
In the week leading up to former FEMA director Mike Brown’s exodus, the media spent a lot of time castigating the president for hiring someone with such poor qualifications. Yet, a video report (to follow) from CNN of all places states that the Democrats had a large hand in this appointment.
Of course, that hasn’t been the media’s position up to this point. Here is an article from this week’s edition of The New Republic:
“By now, the basic contours of Mike Brown's ascendancy to director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) have come to light. Journalists have uncovered that Brown had almost no relevant experience for the position and got hired by fema because he was a longtime friend of George W. Bush's close associate Joe Allbaugh. The story being reported, in other words, is that Brown was a lawyer who ended up with a crucial post in the Bush administration because of rank cronyism.”
“Yet, far from being a caricature, this description, if anything, understates the absurdity of the situation. The real story of Brown's meteoric rise from obscurity is far more disturbing, as well as a good deal more farcical. It's clear that hiring Brown to run fema was an act of gross recklessness, given his utter lack of qualifications for the job. What's less clear is the answer to the question of exactly what, given Brown's real biography, he is qualified to do.”
Is the Reagan Revolution finally coming to an end? “Progressives” like Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift certainly would like to think so. In fact, in a recent op-ed, Eleanor contends that the wake of Katrina is the death knell for such heinous things as tax cuts and smaller government:
“If there’s an upside to Katrina, it’s that the Republican agenda of tax cuts, Social Security privatization and slashing government programs is over. It may be too much to predict an upsurge of progressive government, but the environment and issues of poverty, race and class are back on the nation’s radar screen.”
Of course, never one to suppress an opinion no matter how caustic, Eleanor couldn’t resist giving President Bush a few kicks while he’s down: