Four years have elapsed since one of the most amazing cases of Republican-bashing media bias in the television era began. The media elites laugh when preachers say immorality causes God to send hurricanes, but they suggested with straight faces that Hurricane Katrina was a death sentence President Bush and his cronies brought to the less fortunate.
In the early spin, race-baiting rapper Kanye West and "objective" anchors like Brian Williams were in rhetorical sync: George Bush didn’t care about black people. On "The Daily Show," Williams said "everyone" knew Bush would have done better if white people were endangered: "Everyone watching the coverage all week, that kind of reached its peak last weekend, kept saying the same refrain: ‘How is this happening in the United States?’ And the other refrain was, ‘Had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have –’"
Williams couldn’t finish. The liberal audience drowned him in applause.
On Sunday’s "Good Morning America," weekend host Bill Weir highlighted the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and insisted that the storm "really tainted the Bush legacy." The GMA anchor talked to liberal author Jason Berry and asked if there was an intentional effort to not rebuild poor neighborhoods in New Orleans. "Is that a deliberate political move," he asked.
Attempting to draw a contrast between former President Bush and Barack Obama, Weir speculated, "But talk about the change in the presidential administration. You know, the response to Katrina really tainted the Bush legacy. But have you noticed any change in tone, any optimism under President Obama?" (Weir is the journalist who hyperbolically insisted during the President’s inauguration that "even the seagulls must have been awed" by the event.)
Over at Daily Kos, bloggers aren't merely mourning Ted Kennedy's death. Some are declaring that this moment is the time for health "reform," and the only obstacle is Republicans who killed New Orleans and laughed about it. The blogger "cskendrick" declared on Wednesday:
The acrimony surrounding health care reform is not the litmus test of our Republic. This test we took not so long ago - and we failed this test utterly.
How did we fail? We let the Republicans kill a major U.S. city. We let them laugh about it and walk away. We all failed New Orleans. We failed its rights, its lives, its health, its rightful place in our compassion. I was resistant to the message not so long ago but it is true - We. All. Failed. NOLA. The Republicans failed it gladly and boldly. The Democrats failed to take them to task for this abomination.
NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard has focused again on what NPR reporters say on Fox News. Reporter Mara Liasson infuriated the liberal listeners of the taxpayer-funded network when she proclaimed on Tuesday's Special Report that "Cash for Clunkers is like a mini-Katrina here," Liasson said. "It's not good to start a government program and not be able to execute it."
Liasson quickly acknowledged she "crossed a line" in comparing Bush's hurricane response to Obama's eco-friendly initiatives:
"I said something really stupid, which I regret," Liasson told me. "I should have merely said anytime time the government does something less than competent, it makes it harder to get people to trust them with other programs. People died in Katrina because of government incompetence. I should not have used that as an analogy. I was thinking of an example of government incompetence and I picked one that was too big and egregious. I was over the top in my choice of a metaphor. It was a mistake."
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and Dallas Morning News political writer Wayne Slater agreed on Tuesday’s Newsroom program that former President George W. Bush appeared to be “controlled by a bunch of bullies,” or that he was “presiding over a reign of bullies, with [Dick] Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld and Karl Rove pushing a partisan agenda.” Later, as President Obama was getting ready to speak at a meeting with small business owners, Slater sought to correct the conservative critics of the administration’s economic policy: “You have the right wing pounding on him day after day for the...bail-outs...a liberal, a socialist -- and yet, here you have a guy who really is tracking a fairly moderate line.”
Sanchez first had the Dallas Morning News writer on just after the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to discuss a recent article in GQ magazine which alleged that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “held up military aid to New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina.” The CNN anchor first asked, “Why would Donald Rumsfeld not want to help the people of New Orleans in this situation, given that he had his finger on the military relief?”
Hinting at but not explicitly charging President Obama with eco-hypocrisy, CNN weatherman Rob Marciano chided the chief executive for flying out to Iowa and back just for one Earth Day speech. Marciano took to the camera shortly after 10 a.m. EDT for a weather report. His comments came on the heels of Heidi Collins describing Obama's agenda for marking Earth Day [audio available here]:
ROB MARCIANO, CNN meteorologist: Is that the 747 Air Force One I see on the tarmac getting ready to go fly to Iowa for Earth Day?
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN anchor: Yup.
MARCIANO: I mean, it's a pretty big carbon footprint just to make a speech in front of a windmill.
CNN reporter Susan Roesgen became a pseudo-"journalistic" anti-hero yesterday for her obnoxiously belligerent interview of one Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party participant and her overall assessment of the more than 750 events around the country as amongst other derogatory things "anti-government."
But in another segment, she delved into rank hypocrisy the likes of which we rarely find even in the woefully biased liberal media pantheon.
In it she sought out another TEA Party participant who had a mocked-up sign in which President Barack Obama is melded with Adolf Hitler. She immediately began arguing with this gentleman as well; amongst the things she angrily said were "Why be so hard on the President of the United States with such an offensive message?" and "Do you realize how offensive that is?"
We will admit that portraying President Obama as Der Fuhrer is a bit over the top. But Miss Roesgen's sensitivity to being "so hard on the President of the United States with such an offensive message" seems only to arise when the Hitler-izing involves Democratic Commanders-in-Chief.
George W. Bush has said nothing negative about his media-worshiped successor in the Oval Office. Yet that doesn't stop the liberal mainstream media for mocking the former president out of the blue -- while ignoring Obama gaffes -- for events that happened on his watch years ago.
The latest example, Time's Amy Sullivan, on the magazine's Swampland blog today entitled, "Quote of the Day":
Despite an occasional line likely to raise a conservative's eyebrow ("Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology," for example) writer Nicholas Dawidoff's 8,200-word March 29 New York Times magazine feature, "The Civil Heretic," on world-renowned physicist, Iraq-protesting liberal and "global warming skeptic" Freeman Dyson will be appreciated by many readers of this blog.
Using a comfortable, storytelling style, Dawidoff immediately sets the scene:
When historians look back in wonder at how a long-established publication like the New York Times could have declined from its virtual king-of-the-world status in mid-2002 to its Bush-deranged, 85%-devalued shadow of its former self, they will surely make a few stops at Maureen Dowd's twice-weekly, lost-in-another-world columns (the Dowd picture is from the Times's web site).
Today's offering from Dowd (HT Hot Air Headlines) is intended to be a final figurative kick in the shins at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, something she admits to fantasizing about having done to the Vice President this week when she had opportunities.
But the Dowd diatribe really ends up as a self-portrayal of someone who deeply imbibed the kool-aid her paper dished out over the past seven years and is beyond ever letting go, and serves as a microcosm of what the Old Gray Lady has done to itself in that same timeframe:
Well, it seems that the folks at Vanity Fair realized that they won't have George W. Bush to kick around any more. So they decided to launch the journalistic equivalent of thermonuclear war against him in an attempt to get its shot at a "draft of history."
In a 14 web-page tome (the photo at the top right is at its beginning) that fancies itself an "oral history," the magazine hauls out every criticism, real or imagined, hurled at the president during the past eight years. It reminds everyone that the media's favorite stereotype of conservatives and Republicans is that they're dumb (I guess Ike's orchestration of D-Day was some kind of accident, and George W. Bush's MBA -- he is the first president to hold one -- was some kind of gift from Poppy).
Sadly, the magazine finds a few former administration officials to pile on. One of them likens Bush to Sarah Palin (that's supposed to be an insult). We're left with the long-discredited meme of Dick Cheney as puppet master and Bush as impotent since Katrina (then how did Bush get that Iraq Surge past everyone and make it stick anyway?).
All you really need to know to spare yourself a truly painful read is what is in the tease paragraph after the headline. Brace yourself:
New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff's "Reflections: New Orleans and China" showed that he shared the same affliction as Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman -- gauging the success of the strong central power of Communist China by looking at its shining and efficient surface, without questioning its effect on the nation's unseen citizenry. For good measure, he even held Ronald Reagan responsible for both the devastation from Hurricane Katrina and last year's deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse.
For Americans watching events unfold on television late last month, the arduous evacuation of New Orleans and the grandeur of the Olympic Games couldn't have made for a starker contrast.
However one feels about its other policies, the Chinese government is clearly not afraid to invest in the future of its cities. The array of architecture it created for the Beijing Olympics was only part of a mosaic of roads, bridges, tunnels, canals, subway lines and other projects that have transformed a medieval city of wood and brick into a modern metropolis overnight.
For almost a week, practically foaming at the mouth media members scared the heck out of the American people presaging doom and gloom in New Orleans as well as rising oil and gas prices all at the hands of a hurricane that hadn't even entered the Gulf of Mexico yet.
Of course, let's not forget the reports about Hurricane Gustav destroying the Republican National Convention thereby damaging John McCain's chances of winning the White House.
Now, as Gustav has been down-graded to a tropical storm, having caused less damage in New Orleans than anyone anticipated, America is quickly getting back to normal likely much to the disappointment of those on the left and in the media that hoped for a replay of Hurricane Katrina weeks before Election Day.
And, as Bloomberg reported Tuesday, energy prices are plummeting (photo courtesy CNN Money):
Nobody would ever hope or pray for a hurricane to strike at the expense of their political opponent. Or would they?
Well, maybe Michael Moore would. In fact, he did, as has already been discussed on this site.
By the same token, the Financial Times has also demonstrated a knack for cheering on a catastrophic event in the hopes of striking a blow to the GOP convention this week.
While delegates and attendees at the GOP convention spent Monday offering prayers, scaling back the pageantry, and generally demonstrating that most have their minds on the well-being of Americans in the Gulf region, liberals have been taking the opportunity to make jokes about their religion and hoping that a catastrophic event derails the Republicans all together.
All "Big Three" network evening news anchors appeared on Wednesday's "Today" show to promote a simulcast to fight cancer but ended up wringing their hands about Scott McClellan's charges that the press was too soft on the White House in the run up to the Iraq War.
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric accused the White House of "strong arm tactics," and complained, "There was such a significant march to war and people who questioned it very early on...were considered patriotic."
When pushed by "Today" host Matt Lauer, "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams charged:
In Katrina the evidence was right next to us. Sadly we saw fellow Americans, in some cases, floating past, face down. We knew what had just happened. We weren't allowed to that kind of proximity with the weapons inspectors. I was in Kuwait for the build up of the war and yes we heard from the Pentagon, on my cell phone, the minute they heard us report something that they didn't like. The tone of that time was quite extraordinary.
For his part "ABC World News" anchor Charlie Gibson said he felt like all the questions were asked but declared:
NBC's "Today" show, on Wednesday morning, led with former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book as Matt Lauer declared it a "bombshell," and Tim Russert built up McClellan's credibility as he trumpeted, "This is not Moveon.org."
After a breathless accounting of the "scathing" and "searing" revelations in the McClellan book from David Gregory, Lauer and Russert dismissed Karl Rove's criticism of the former press secretary and underlined the impact the book would have on the election:
TIM RUSSERT: Karl Rove was out last night, basically relegating his position as unimportant. That he was not in the loop. He was not a key adviser. But the fact is, it's gonna be very difficult to diminish someone who was in that room, who was in that position for as long as he was.
MATT LAUER: And here we've got a president with historically low approval ratings, he can't run for reelection so this, is this just a parting shot on, on a departing president or will this have some impact on the fall election between Barack Obama, it seems, and John McCain?
RUSSERT: It will fuel the debate about the war in Iraq, whether or not we should have gone into Iraq. John McCain said yes, Obama said no. I believe that this will be expert testimony used by the Democrats against their incumbent president.
If the mess in Florida had been resolved with as much skill and savvy as went into the making of the movie, the world might be a different place today -- presumably a better one, although no one can say for sure.
Little or nothing is ever accomplished by games of what-if, but it's hard to resist speculating how history, and not just political history, might have been different since the year 2000 with regard to such monumental events as the reaction to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11; response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina; and the war in Iraq, including whether there would have been one and whether a single American life would have been lost.
New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller followed John McCain on his trip to the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, which suffered grievously because of Hurricane Katrina, and filed a harshly cynical story to nytimes.com Thursday afternoon -- much of which was removed from the version that eventually appeared on Friday morning's front page.
From Bumiller's Thursday afternoon filing:
Senator John McCain took direct aim at the Bush administration on Thursday as he stood in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the area hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and declared that "never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way that it was handled."
Mr. McCain, who was on the fourth day of a tour of America's "forgotten places" to try to prove that he is a compassionate Republican, ticked off a long list of mistakes: "There was unqualified people in charge, there was a total misreading of the dimensions of the disaster, there was a failure of communications."
In the midst of all the recent global warming alarmism, have you considered the role that the "Hollywoodation" of weather reporting has played?
After all, much as news reporting has become more and more geared towards titillation in the past couple of decades, so has the media's presentation of climate events, especially extreme ones like Hurricane Katrina.
With this in mind, it only seems logical that the over-hyped coverage of all things weather-related has added to the nation's fear of global warming irrespective of whether or not such fears are warranted.
Such was certainly suggested in an article published in Saturday's Toronto Star which accused American media of being prone to "storm porn" (emphasis added throughout, h/t to NB reader Linda):
Two years ago, Old Media, particularly the New York Times, and quite a few chronic sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome (but I repeat myself), attempted to hijack the Sago Mine tragedy in West Virginia before the wakes for the 12 dead miners were even held. They wanted to pin the catastrophe, totally without foundation, on the idea that the administration had created the conditions for the tragedy by starving the budget of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and by putting industry cronies who were deliberately lax in safety enforcement in charge.
The Times even tried to tie the tragedy to Hurricane Katrina, which had occurred a few months earlier.
The claims of negligence and pervasive deteriorating safety conditions were definitively debunked at these posts:
In short, yours truly and Bevan found that coal-mine deaths and injuries had been declining significantly during the previous four years; inspection hours had shown no indications of a safety letup; and the budget for MHSA had not been slashed.
So where is coal-mine safety, and mine safety in general, two years later?
Wash, spin, rinse, spin. Phone, spin, report, spin, poll, spin. The similarities between the work of the mainstream media and a laundry machine are striking. Yet there is nothing about the cycle -- the spin-report-poll-spin cycle -- that does for political events what detergent does for your boxers or briefs.
The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.
And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.
Wealthy Americans are becoming increasingly interested in donating to global causes. Since 1997, the rate of global giving has increased steadily at an average of 12.5 percent each year. According to a recent Financial Times story, JPMorgan Private Bank has “noted a rise of about 20 percent over the last year in client interest in overseas donations, with high-net-worth individuals looking to support education, health and economic expansion projects in developing countries.”
And they aren’t alone. Financial planners and international banks have seen similar upswings. It all begs the question—why?
What does this increased giving tells us about Americans?
In his "Final Word" on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced a fake news conference held by FEMA officials in the wake of the California wildfires. Not content to just say the staged conference was a bad mistake, Schieffer decided to be as arrogant and condescending as possible:
The last time I was at Disney World, they had sticks of a certain height stuck in the ground with signs that said something like, `You must be this tall to ride this ride.' Well, FEMA, the disaster relief agency, must use a variation of that to hire its public relations staff. Somewhere on their employment application there must be a clause that says, `Your IQ must be below a certain level to work here.'
We know that the mainstream media love to report on all of the following: 1) the mass firing of prosecutors for political reasons; 2) anything about New Orleans; 3) and race issues in Lousiana. So what happens when you have one story that covers all three topics? The answer is almost nothing when the story involves an embattled Democratic official.
ABC and CBS on Sunday night pivoted from the success, of the aide efforts for fire evacuees at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, to make political points: ABC highlighted a protest about “immigrant rights” and CBS focused on how President Bush's visit to victims contrasted with how after Katrina Bush “flew home from vacation” in Air Force One “thousands of feet above the evacuees” and “never stopped.” Reporter Seth Doane contended, over 2005 video on the CBS Evening News of the Superdome evacuees, Bush peering out the window of Air Force One and that plane flying over the stadium, that “for many it was a sharp contrast with another football stadium two years ago: The Superdome in New Orleans during Katrina -- overcrowded, miserable conditions, all under a leaking roof, while thousands of feet above the evacuees, President Bush flew home from vacation in Air Force One and never stopped.” Doane suggested: “Contrast this past week when the President came to a burned-out area to press the flesh...”
Cheap shot of the night, a gratuitous reference to President George W. Bush's 2005 “you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie,” remark about then-FEMA Director Michael Brown's handling of the Katrina hurricane catastrophe. Dean Reynolds in Escondido, California, concluding a Thursday CBS Evening News story on Bush's visit to the fire-ravaged region:
Mr. Bush dismissed comparisons between Katrina and California and seemed generally satisfied by the efforts he witnessed today. But if he actually thought anybody was doing a 'heck of a job,' he didn't say so in public.
On the NBC Nightly News, John Yang managed to raise shortcomings following Katrina without citing the comment used by liberals to ridicule Bush: “After the debacle of Hurricane Katrina, the President has been offering a robust response to these fires. But the real test may come in the rebuilding, which could cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.”
Reporter Claire Shipman did her level best to get California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to say the efforts to combat the state's wild fires were going poorly. Shipman interviewed the governor on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" and wondered about "the comparison to Katrina that everybody's making in the back of their mind..." At one point, Governor Schwarzenegger cut off Shipman's pleas for negative assessments of the effort by grabbing her arm. He bluntly scolded, "Trust me when I tell you, you're looking for a mistake and you won't find it because it's all good news, as much as you maybe hate it, but it's good news."
Earlier, the ABC correspondent attempted to deflate Schwarzenegger's sunny optimism by mentioning unnamed officials in Orange County who asserted the state doesn't have enough resources, including firefighting aircraft. The former actor simply wouldn't go along with this premise of victimization. He firmly retorted, "Anyone that is complaining about the planes, just wants to complain because it's a bunch of nonsense." Schwarzenegger then proceeded to point out that the state has 90 planes and only wind has hampered their use.
President Bush has shown that he can be empathetic, sensitive and decisive. But those qualities eluded him for days after Hurricane Katrina . . . He didn't cancel his vacation until two days after Katrina struck and didn't visit the region until four days after the storm. -- "A compassionate Bush was absent right after Katrina", USA Today, 9-9-05
USA Today's broadside is typical of the MSM criticism leveled at Pres. Bush for his failure to visit New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. So, now that President Bush has announced that he will be visiting California on Thursday while the wildfire flames are still burning, naturally the MSM and Dems will put politics aside and laud his decision, right?
The national media completely obsessed over Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, conducting an amazing propaganda campaign which suggested a la Kanye West that George Bush hated black people, demonstrated it by the government's "neglect." They paid little attention to the incompetence of state and local officials, like Gov. Kathleen Blanco. She was so tarred by her response that she didn't even run for re-election.
Yesterday, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal, who lost to Blanco by four points in 2003, easily won the governor's race. Bobby who? That's right, the national media that obsessed over this area (and we mean you, Brian Williams, and you, Anderson Cooper) hasn't exactly been all over this post-Katrina story. Don't believe it's the victory margin. Dare we suggest that Jindal's status as an Indian-American person "of color" is an inconvenient topic for the liberal media?