Today’s New York Times featured a Carl Hulse article that depicted the future of the Republican Party as being almost as bright as Alaska for the next several weeks. In Hulse’s view, just about everything that has gone wrong in America in 2005 can be linked to Republicans, while, conversely, in a 27 paragraph piece, there was only one paragraph that suggested any problems for the party on the opposite side of the aisle. Frankly, this article read more like a press release from a political strategist than a column in a leading, national newspaper.
First, Hulse set the stage: “The ugly debate in the House on Friday over the Iraq war served as an emotional send-off for a holiday recess, capturing perfectly the political tensions coursing through the House and Senate in light of President Bush's slumping popularity, serious party policy fights, spreading ethics investigations and the approach of crucial midterm elections in less than a year.”
He then established the goal: “Capitol Hill was always certain to be swept up in brutal political gamesmanship as lawmakers headed into 2006 - the midpoint of this second presidential term and, perhaps, a chance for Democrats to cut into Republican majorities or even seize power in one chamber or the other.”
Then, Hulse enumerated all the Republican shortcomings:
There’s been a lot of suggestion by the media lately -- especially since the elections last Tuesday -- that the Republican Party is in dire trouble, and could lose control of the House and the Senate in 2006. For those interested in a side of this debate that the media are ignoring, you should watch today’s “Meet the Press,” in particular the second-half with DNC chairman Howard Dean.
Some of the pertinent exchanges of note:
DR. DEAN: I think Democrats always have to stand up and tell the truth and that's what we're doing. The truth is that the president misled America when he sent us to war. They did--he even didn't tell the truth in the speech he gave. First of all, think there were a lot of veterans were kind of upset that the president chose their day to make a partisan speech.
A bit of a stunner from this morning's Washington Times: "Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday condemned all abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates and nominees who oppose abortion. 'I never have felt that any abortion should be committed -- I think each abortion is the result of a series of errors,' he told reporters over breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, while across town Senate Democrats deliberated whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. because he may share President Bush and Mr. Carter's abhorrence of abortion. 'These things impact other issues on which [Mr. Bush] and I basically agree,' the Georgia Democrat said. 'I've never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion.'"
It will be curious to see if the CBS Evening News, which on September 21 relayed a post-Katrina criticism from Carter of Bush for stripping FEMA of its independence, finds the ex-president's provocative comments on the "hot-button" issues of abortion and religion equally newsworthy.
New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley celebrates a self-congratulatory documentary about Hurricane Katrina that features NBC anchor Brian Williams.
The liberal Stanley particularly appreciates "In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina" (airing tonight on the Sundance Channel) for showing Bush and the federal government in a poor light:
"It's never too soon to replay the blame game. 'In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina' on the Sundance Channel serves as a study aid for those who wish to re-examine the government's neglect of the poorest victims of that terrible storm. News programs may have moved on to the damage wrought by Hurricane Wilma, but the devastation along the Gulf Coast was a seminal moment in President Bush's faltering second term."
Professor Cori Dauber interrupts the hagiography to point out that anchor Williams has apparently "forgotten his pledge to 'commute' to the Gulf in order to ensure he stayed completely on top of the story."
For more on the Times' liberal bias, visit TimesWatch.
In the days and weeks following the disaster in New Orleans, many in the media suggested that the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina was caused by the race and economic condition of those impacted. President Bush had to regularly answer the questions of reporters concerning this, while media members opined at will.
Most famous of such assertions was reported by NewsBusters when rapper Kanye West said during a televised Katrina relief fundraiser that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Earlier that day, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black.” And, as also reported by NewsBusters, CBS News’s Nancy Giles said: “[Bush] has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
Declaring “it's not far-fetched,” movie director Spike Lee affirmed on Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, that he believes Louis Farakhan’s allegation that a levee was destroyed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in order to flood the nearly all-black ninth ward. Lee contended that “a choice had to be made, one neighborhood got to save another neighborhood and flood another 'hood, flood another neighborhood.” ABC News reporter Michel Martin chimed in with how “anybody with any knowledge of history can understand why a lot of people can feel this way, that that's a reasonable theory.” But she went on to dismiss the theory, prompting Lee to demand: "Presidents have been assassinated. So why is that so far-fetched?" To hearty applause from the Los Angeles audience, Lee asked: "Do you think that election in 2000 was fair? You don't think that was rigged?" Lee argued: “If they can rig an election, they can do anything!" Lee soon got into a heated exchange with MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson as he raised the “Tuskegee experiment” as proof the U.S. government is capable of any abuse of blacks. Lee made similar allegations on CNN back on October 11, as recounted in the Washington Times. What he said on HBO and CNN follows.
"South Park," the popular Comedy Central show about the misadventures of a group of four Colorado boys, criticized the news media Wednesday night for its overhyped coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In the episode, two of the boys, Stan Marsh and Eric Cartman, accidentally crash a boat into a beaver dam, flooding an entire town. In the aftermath, local and national media blame it on global warming, ridiculously exaggerate the extent of the damage, make up stories of rape, murder, "cannibalism," and tell tales of "hundreds of millions" of deaths in a town of 8,000 people.
Does the name “Aaron Broussard” ring a bell? Well, he is the president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, who was immortalized on NBC’s “Meet the Press” right after Hurricane Katrina hit when he suggested – with tears in his eyes – that the slow response by the federal government resulted in the unnecessary death of the mother of one of his colleagues. When it turned out that his claims were disputed by the son of the deceased woman, Tim Russert invited Broussard back on “Meet the Press,” and as was reported by NewsBusters, Russert let him off the hook again.
Last evening, Carl Quintanilla did a report on the “NBC Nightly News” about concerns being addressed by residents of Jefferson Parish that the drainage pump operators responsible for preventing flooding during storms were dismissed by Broussard before Katrina hit, and that this is why so many houses in the parish ended up being destroyed. These grievances have now become a class-action lawsuit against Broussard, a fact that was downplayed in Quintanilla's report.
Also missing in this piece were recent revelations that Broussard – in a possible effort to cover his tracks – is seeking to fire the head of the East Jefferson Levee District.
Yet, with all this intrigue, Quintanilla didn’t interview Broussard concerning any of these recent allegations, and, instead, chose to address e-mail messages that were transmitted between FEMA representatives in the midst of the disaster.
What follows are highlights from an article by the Associated Press concerning the class-action suit against Broussard, a Times-Picayune article about the firing of the Levee District chief, a full transcript of Quintanilla’s report with a video link, as well as video links of both Broussard appearances on “Meet the Press.”
In the classic backseat driver tradition, CBS News president Andrew Heyward said the "network news assignment editors should have been running FEMA" during Katrina.
Heyward also said the mainstream media's coverage of Katrina was superb, proving that the bloggers had not replaced it.
"No one on the Internet could match what the network and cable news did."
The news exec spoke these words as he accepted a Murrow award for overall excellence.
"Journalists had the courage to speak truth to power," Heyward said, although he was likely not referring to the media's overhyping of the level of water contamination and the amount of violence in New Orleans.
Unfortunately, journalists haven’t accurately reported the data involved.
Catastrophic events in America’s cities have a tendency to generate discussions about race, class, and poverty. The Watts riots in 1965, as well as the Rodney King riots in 1992 are fine examples. Hurricane Katrina has sparked another such debate. Unfortunately, America’s media are relying on consistently questionable or out-of-date statistics to not only exaggerate the problem, but to blame President Bush.
Staff writers Robert E. Pierre and Hamil Harris report today in the Metro section of the Washington Post on Louis "Farrakhan's Message of Defiance and Unity"* in his march planned for tomorrow in Washington, D.C., commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March.
Pierre and Harris bury Farrakhan's conspiracy theory rhetoric about the government bombing the levees in New Orleans deep into the article, and they completely ignore Farrakhan's charge that the federal government was involved in 9/11. As reported by CNSNews.com's Marc Morano yesterday:
At a National Press Club news conference Thursday, Farrakhan said his weekend Millions More Movement was intended to put a stop to the "lies, to thieves, to murderers in the name of government.
"When you have people who politically feel that they get their advantage by killing people and blaming it on somebody else, then it makes us wonder what really happened to the Twin Towers (in New York City)," a reference to the terrorist strikes against the U.S. four years ago that brought down the World Trade Center.
"Was the heat from fuel from two airplanes sufficient to compromise the steel in that building? (sic) People had said they heard explosions and the buildings came down like we see old buildings in Vegas or in Florida or in other places, implode," Farrakhan said. "So who was the victor there? Who got the advantage there? It wasn't the American people.
Bruce Thornton has a good article at JewishPress.com about journalists who raise a fuss and then ask people what they think of the fuss they've created.
Imagine that you started receiving letters in the mail accusing your neighbor of being a child molester. Occasionally you receive photographs or even a video showing the neighbor with a child on his lap or dressed up like a clown at a children`s party. After a couple of weeks of this, someone then phones you to ask if you think your neighbor is a pedophile. What percentage of us do you think would say yes?
There you have one of the media`s favorite devices for disguising opinion as news, one on display in the coverage of the disaster in New Orleans. At the very height of the disaster reporters solicited opinions from people about what was happening and why, and unsurprisingly, the majority of poor black people asked said Bush and the federal government were to blame, a perception echoed by Democrats and black politicians for obvious partisan reasons.
NBC's Tim Russert proclaimed, "It's a year away but the Democrats are feeling almost giddy this morning," as he ran down the negative news from NBC's own poll. Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show with a teaser for the Russert political analysis segment:
Lauer: "Then to Washington where it rains it really pours. President Bush says he doesn't look at the poll numbers. He might not want to. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows his approval rating is at its lowest level ever. And there's some astounding numbers when it comes to African-Americans and their support for the President. Tim Russert's gonna be here and crunch those numbers in a little while."
During the media's coverage of Katrina the race card was played again and again so it's no surprise that Lauer and Russert led with the fruits of their labor.
The results of the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll were released last night, and pressrooms around the nation appeared to be pleased. “NBC Nightly News” reported it this way (video link to follow):
Tim Russert: Brian, not good news for George W. Bush's second term thus far. Only 39% of Americans approve his job. 54% disapproval. That 39% approval is the lowest in the five years of his presidency. And Brian, listen to this: Only 2%, 2% of African Americans in the United States approve of George Bush's handling of the presidency. The lowest we've ever seen in that particular measurement.
The truth: NOAA: Oct. 11, 2005 — NOAA completed additional analyses of fish, water and sediment samples collected from coastal and offshore marine waters of the Gulf of Mexico... The 154 fish and crab samples harbored no E. coli (Escherlchia coli), a bacteria associated with human or animal fecal contamination. Additional testing on shrimp samples taken from Mississippi Sound is ongoing. Analyses of water samples for indicators of human sewage or agricultural runoff found levels that are below the Environmental Protection Agency's safety limits for bathing beaches. These limits constitute the most stringent government standard for recreational waters. Fish muscle tissue analyzed for pesticides and other industrial chemicals, such as PCBs and DDTs show very low levels that are likely not related to hurricane runoff. The levels of PCBs ranged from 2.5 - 15 parts per billion and the levels of DDTs ranged from 0.8 - 2.2 parts per billion. The PCB levels found in these samples are far below the Food and Drug Administration's safety standards for commercial seafood and are similar to levels detected in fish in non-urbanized areas. (FDA's PCB limit is 2000 ppb, and their DDT limit is 5000 ppb). NOAA announced on September 29 that the first tests showed no elevated exposure to hydrocarbon contaminants, which are common in marine life after exposure to oil spills.
Wednesday's edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show was devoted to a look "Inside the Lives of America's Poor," coming out of the spirit of the reporting from hurricane Katrina. Once again, Oprah was outraged that anyone would disagree that whites would have drawn a better government response. She rambled a bit: "I got a couple of calls from some crazy people saying, and I mean that in the best way [laughter], people saying I was racist because how dare I imply -- and I think it was Lisa Ling who said on the show she couldn't imagine if this was a wealthy suburb -- how dare I imply -- and the woman said, 'Oprah, do you really think that if those were wealthy white Americans that the response time would have been any different? CNN's Anderson Cooper was there on set to reply: "Yeah, well, ask yourself the question, if that convention center in New Orleans had been filled with white suburban soccer moms, would the response have been different? I think it's a valuable question to ask. I think it's a good question to ask."
Byron Pitts did a story on last night’s “CBS Evening News” called “Nuevo New Orleans.” In it, Pitts reported a wave of legal and illegal immigrants coming into New Orleans seeking employment.
At a town hall meeting with small business owners, Mayor Ray Nagin said on camera: “How do I make sure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?”
Given the recent outcry concerning statements made by Bill Bennett, one has to wonder why there is no similar outrage over Nagin’s remarks. Or, how about the way Pitts finishes the segment: “The worry here: Will it look like the old New Orleans when it's over?”
What follows is a full transcript of this report along with a video link.
Remember all those media predictions about the toxic nature of the floodwaters in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina? Well, it appears that much like their prognostications of casualties, how long it was going to take to drain the city, and the likely devastation to America’s economy, this too was an extraordinary exaggeration.
Here’s a sampling of the press opinions concerning this water made shortly after Katrina hit:
ABC News reported on September 6: "Thousands of hurricane survivors who spent hours trapped in or wading through floodwaters likely exposed themselves to a wide range of bacteria and other contaminants.”
Reuters reported on September 7: “The brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.”
The Christian Science Monitor reported on September 8: “Chemicals leaking from cars and factories will cause one of costliest environmental cleanups ever.”
On Tuesday's Today, Matt Lauer interviewed President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at a house building zone for those who were affected by Katrina to live in, in which the President is contributing too. Lauer immediately accused Bush of using this as a photo-op situation.
Lauer continues the interview by asking President Bush why we are "making" Louisiana residents pay back the money they are borrowing for Katrina relief efforts, yet are not making the citizens pay back the money we spent in Iraq. Matt obviously has not learned the difference between asking to borrow and giving.
Readers of a September 22, 2005, Newsbusters story, posted by this writer, may be pleased to see that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has written a letter to Air America radio host Randi Rhodes. The letter, posted publically at the ADL web site, was in response to inflammatory remarks by Rhodes on her September 21, 2005, show, in which she made an "on-air comparison between the evacuation of victims of hurricane Katrina and the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz during World War II." The ADL says that her "analogy comparing rescue operations -- as mismanaged as they may have been -- to Auschwitz deportations is a perversion of morality and history." Founded in 1913, the ADL is an organization committed to "combating anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds."
No matter how much she gets for her state, it’s never enough.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was unhappy last Friday night. After sparring with Senate Republicans, including her counterpart from Louisiana, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), she didn’t get what she wanted – $15 billion in hurricane-related loans to her state without any strings attached.
Now, don’t get me wrong, she did get some money -- $750 million to be exact. But the recipients are going to have to pay it back, and that’s not what Landrieu wanted. She felt that given everything Louisianans have gone through, these loans should have been totally forgivable, meaning that if the recipients didn’t want to reimburse America’s taxpayers, they didn’t have to.
If you invite the chubby kid from down the block to the birthday party, is it fair to criticize him for eating cake?
There was something of that lack of hospitality to the Today show's interview of President and Laura Bush this morning
For weeks now, Today has been reveling in its contribution to the Katrina relief effort, notably in its collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. Two weeks ago, Today transformed Rockefeller Plaza into "Humanity Plaza," erecting Habitat homes for transport to the stricken area.
This morning, the action moved to Covington, Louisiana, where a home was being erected on site. And who was there, hammer at the ready to lend a hand, but President Bush himself, accompanied by Laura.
Regardless of all the carping and whining over hurricane-related contracts going to Halliburton and Shaw Group due to potential ties to the Bush administration, as well as some of the awards being “no-bid,” there seems to be no such outrage if a company has ties to former President Clinton’s administration.
An article in today’s New York Times entitled “FEMA Director Under Clinton Profits From Experience” seems to celebrate former FEMA director James Lee Witt’s new company, as well as how it has profited from damages related to Hurricane Katrina:
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported yesterday that the levees in New Orleans were not overtopped by flood waters related to Katrina. Instead, as was reported by NBC News on September 29, and here on September 30, these levees broke due to construction failures related to the instability of the soil beneath them. Moreover, one of the contractors involved in their construction warned the Army Corps of Engineers about this problem in the early ’90s, but these cautions were ignored.
As yesterday’s Times article stated: “The engineers said the findings, which they warned were preliminary, raised questions about the design of the levees and the testing of the relatively fragile soil during the construction of the walls. They also said that on the 17th Street Canal, the source of the flooding in much of the main part of the city, the flood wall broke in an area where a contractor had complained to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers that the soil that anchored the wall was dangerously soft.”
And, yesterday’s Washington Post stated: “In the early 1990s, a New Orleans-based contractor filed a legal claim against the Corps alleging that the soil beneath the floodwall on the 17th Street Canal was poor. A judge dismissed the contractor's complaint in 1996.”
These revelations raise an interesting question: Why aren’t the Times and the Post apologizing to their readers for and/or retracting earlier reports by their respective papers that the levee problems in New Orleans were caused by budget cuts implemented by President Bush?
September employment was little-changed despite predictions of 500,000 job losses.
Remember all those reports filed by the mainstream media predicting doom and gloom right after Katrina devastated New Orleans? Well, the first significant piece of economic data to be released since the hurricanes hit suggests that these media prognostications – as predicted by the Free Market Project on September 6 – had no basis in fact.
This morning, the Labor Department released employment numbers for the month of September, and they were much stronger than forecast. In fact, they were so strong that the U.S. dollar rallied against most of the world’s currencies in expectation that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates further than many economists had hoped.
To refresh everyone’s memory, here is a sampling of what the media were saying about the economy after Katrina first made landfall:
The double-standards in today’s news coverage defy belief.
For most of September, Americans were bombarded almost 24 hours a day with declarations by media representatives and Democratic leaders as to the incompetence of President Bush.
During this time, we watched our president and members of his administration such as Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff and former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown be humiliated by debasing and incendiary questions from reporters. Concurrently, we saw high-ranking Democrats such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) state that our president was oblivious and dangerous.
We heard that it was all the Bush administration’s fault that so many people were helplessly trapped at the Superdome and the Convention Center. We heard of rapes, murders, and beatings at these locations. We heard of abysmal and almost unthinkable conditions all around New Orleans, that it was going to take months to drain the city, and that this, too, was the fault of the Bush administration.
Yet, when the water and smoke cleared at least a month ahead of schedule, a distinctly different picture emerged.
Hurricane devastation has left millions trying to rebuild their homes and lives. But flood-damage lawsuits against insurance companies now threaten the industry’s solvency across the country, and the broadcast media are helping make the case against industry.
According to reporters on CBS and NBC, the fact that some homeowners didn’t have flood insurance is “an ugly surprise” and a “hard lesson” for people “who thought their insurance companies would pay for the wreck they used to call home.”
Reporters have given the impression that Gulf Coast homeowners didn’t understand their insurance policies and that that might give them the legal standing to demand money they weren’t contracted to receive.
CBS’s Harry Smith introduced trial lawyer Richard Scruggs, famed for his $250 billion settlement from tobacco companies, on the October 5 “Early Show.” Scruggs has indicated plans to file suit against three private insurers for coastal clients, accusing insurance companies of misleading them and denying coverage for hurricane losses.
The New York Times reported on October 5 that Scruggs’ first suit, filed on October 4, centers on one Mississippi couple who did not have flood insurance. They say their insurance company misled them into thinking they had protection that they didn’t. Scruggs has said he might file more than 1,000 similar suits, avoiding a class-action suit.
CNN’s Kelly Wallace interviewed former president Bill Clinton for an “American Morning” segment today while he was visiting Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Although the intention was to discuss the money that Clinton and former president Bush have raised for hurricane relief, as well as how they plan on spending this money, CNN couldn’t help but include a few digs for the current president.
The first came from a New Orleans evacuee sitting in a “roundtable” discussion with Clinton:
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the difference? Why we couldn't get the attention and the help that Texas got, when a whole -- I mean, from the east bank to the west bank was destroyed?
The next shot came from Wallace herself in a voice-over: “Along the way, he steered clear of criticizing the Bush administration's response to Katrina and how he thinks the president should roll back tax cuts for the wealthy to help pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast.”
What follows is a full-transcript of this report, along with a video link.
The Washington Post has an article about where the real blame lies for a slow response to Hurricane Katrina.
News of Pandemonium May Have Slowed Aid: Unsubstantiated Reports of Violence Were Confirmed by Some Officials, Spread by News Media
Claims of widespread looting, gunfire directed at helicopters and rescuers, homicides, and rapes, including those of "babies" at the Louisiana Superdome, frequently turned out to be overblown, if not completely untrue, officials now say.... The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that National Guard troops found 30 to 40 bodies decomposing inside a freezer in the convention center, including a girl whose throat was slashed. The newspaper quoted a member of the Arkansas National Guard, which was deployed in the building. Other news organizations then passed the information on. That, too, was untrue.
In communities near and far, the seeds were planted that the victims of Katrina should be kept away, or at least handled with extreme caution.
That is a very important point. By referring to the people of New Orleans as vicious savages, the media did more to stereotype minorities and destroy race relations in this country than Bill Bennett ever did.