In another New York Timesstory seemingly spurred by Democratic complaints, Philip Shenon reports Wednesday: "The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that his office had received accusations of fraud and waste in the multibillion-dollar relief programs linked to Hurricane Katrina and would investigate how no-bid contracts were awarded to several large, politically well-connected companies."Of course, there's an Iraq connection: "Their comments appeared to be a response, in part, to charges from Democratic lawmakers that such a large, hurriedly organized federal relief program could produce the sort of contract abuses, cronyism and waste that numerous investigations have identified in the Bush administration's reconstruction programs in postwar Iraq."
"[IG Richard Skinner] said that his investigators would focus on several no-bid contracts awarded over the last two weeks to large, politically influential companies, including the Fluor Corporation of California, a major donor to the Republican Party, and the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, La. Shaw is a client of Joe M. Allbaugh, a consultant who is the former head of FEMA and was President Bush's campaign manager in 2000. Another of Mr. Allbaugh's clients -- Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the giant defense contractor once led by Vice President Dick Cheney -- is doing major repairs at Navy facilities along the Gulf Coast that were damaged by the hurricane. That work is being done under a $500 million contract with the Defense Department."
There were some gruesome findings yesterday in New Orleans.
Some were discovered in a hospital. Others in a nursing home.
Yet, this didn’t stop New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd from continuing her bitter evisceration of our president.
No, not a moment’s mourning for this crusader. Not a second to consider the innocents that were lost in these medical facilities, or the friends and family members who are grieving.
Instead, Ms. Dowd gets more and more vitriolic and venomous with each passing day. Just listen to her apparent glee as she announces the increase in the hurricane fatalities while linking responsibility to the White House:
Criticism for budget deficits has been replaced by calls for big government
As quickly as the water started rising in New Orleans, America’s media began blaming Hurricane Katrina-related damages on the president’s 2001 and 2003 economic stimulus packages. The overriding theme the first week after Katrina hit was that the levees of Louisiana failed due to a lack of federal funding stemming from “tax cuts for the rich.” However, a closer look at the federal budget reveals that funding for departments and agencies administering U.S. “Physical Resources” – Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Environmental Protection, etc. – increased by 35 percent during George W. Bush’s first term.
But the media have claimed that tax cuts reduced our nation’s ability to protect New Orleans from a natural disaster.
The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller has an article today that continues to dwell on the supposed impact that racism had on the immediacy of hurricane recovery efforts, and how this is hurting the president as well as Republicans:
“The storm also appears to have damaged the carefully laid plans of Karl Rove, President Bush's political adviser, to make inroads among black voters and expand the reach of the Republican Party for decades to come.
“Many African-Americans across the country said they seethed as they watched the television pictures of the largely poor and black victims of Hurricane Katrina dying for food and water in the New Orleans Superdome and the convention center.”
Ms. Bumiller felt it was necessary to quote a rapper in her political analysis:
“The anger has invigorated the president's critics. Kanye West, the rap star, raged off-script at a televised benefit for storm victims that ‘George Bush doesn't care about black people.’"
1. Christopher Fotos at PostWatch notes that Kanye West has company in WashPost columnist Colbert King. King also was offering his respect for Kanye on the talk show Inside Washington, and Charles Krauthammer quickly told him he was nuts.
2. The New York Times reports Katrina Vanden Heuvel of the "left-leaning" (make that "left-careening") Nation magazine "became incensed" when Rush Limbaugh picked up on NRO chatter and started calling the storm "Hurricane Katrina Vanden Heuvel."
3. Are rock stars trying to give us lectures as they sing on hurricane-relief benefits? Last night's mega-channel concert featured Neil Young sang his song "When God Made Me." The lyrics clearly show Young thinks that the problem with religion is that God tends to favor people who believe he exists. That, and religion is the reason for too many bloody wars. Some compare it to John Lennon's "Imagine," but Lennon wants no God, and Young just thinks He might be a Unitarian Universalist.
On Fox News this morning, Geraldo Rivera claimed that the New York Times’ Allessandra Stanley lied about him pushing people in New Orleans so his camera crew could catch him assisting folks being evacuated from a retirement home. Please reference Ian Schwartz’s post from Tuesday concerning this.
“The New York Times has lied about me. And they have an arrogance, an institutional arrogance that somehow prohibits them from admitting their mistake. And it’s really embarrassing. So, here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to provide to any journalistic outfit that wants it the entire uncut, unedited tape of what happened to me and what I was doing helping the airforce guys to evacuate that retirement home. And there is no first-year journalism student anywhere on the planet that will agree with their assessment. And the fact that they refuse to correct is an arrogance, it’s an anti-Fox bias. It’s also a kind of superiority…a social and cultural superiority.”
For almost two weeks since Katrina devastated New Orleans, America’s media have been lambasting the president for not properly funding the Army Corps of Engineers. An article at CNSNews this week deals specifically with a NY Times hypocrisy in this regard.
This morning, NY Times columnist John Tierney has an op-ed suggesting that much of the media – including the Times – might have no clothes on:
“Or suppose the investigators try to find out why the Army Corps of Engineers didn't protect New Orleans from the flood. Democrats have blamed the Iraq war for diverting money and attention from domestic needs. But that hasn't meant less money for the Corps during the past five years. Overall spending hasn't declined since the Clinton years, and there has been a fairly sharp increase in money for flood-control construction projects in New Orleans.
“The problem is that the bulk of the Corps's budget goes for projects far less important than preventing floods in New Orleans. And if the investigators want to find who's responsible, they don't have to leave Capitol Hill.”
Friday's "news analysis" by Richard Stevenson, "The President From 9/11 Has Yet to Reappear," follows in the slanted footsteps of his previous one. The text box reads: "Still looking for vision in the face of national calamity."
"Nine days after the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush stood before a joint session of Congress and rallied the nation to a new mission. On Thursday, nine days after it became apparent that New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Bush stood in an auditorium across the street from the White House and directed storm victims to a Web site and a toll-free telephone number. There are obvious differences between the situations. But while the first showed Mr. Bush capable of commanding the nation's attention, transcending partisanship and clearly articulating a set of goals, the second has left him groping to find his voice and set out a vision of how the government and the American people should respond."
Stevenson implies Bush is some kind of conservative hypocrite: "But as Thursday's performance made clear, he has remained small bore in addressing the crisis, casting himself more as a manager than a leader. And as someone who regularly cites the virtues of limited government, he has been somewhat out of character in unleashing rather than reining in the kinds of social welfare programs he urged the storm's victims to sign up for on Thursday….But most of the rest of his speech was a guide to government assistance programs, including Medicaid, assistance for needy families, food stamps, housing and job training, many of which he has tried to trim in the name of leaner government."
Stevenson then suggests that waiving a union-backed requirement in order to speed up relief indicates a lack of compassion: "Mr. Bush's effort to strike a compassionate tone were also complicated by his decision to waive a requirement that employers who receive federal government contracts related to the relief effort pay their workers the prevailing wages for that kind of work in the area it is being done. The White House said the change was made to save the government money. John J. Sweeney, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O, called it 'unbelievable and outrageous.'"
Speaking of compassion, Wal-Mart, long attacked in the Times for being anti-union, donated $15 million to Hurricane Katrina relief. We'll see if the AFL-CIO proves equally generous.
Go to TimesWatch for more coverage of bias in the New York Times.
The misery and loss of life following Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans make it the worst calamity to hit the United States since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But after 9/11, many journalists insisted that their correct stance was rigid neutrality, refusing to call terrorists "terrorists" and insisting objectivity would be compromised by wearing lapel pins with the American flag. In contrast, journalists showed no similar desire for neutrality in covering this disaster.
Tuesday's Times story by Simon Romero on the efforts of Houston businesses to assist in Katrina relief efforts was fairly unobjectionable -- but the version that appeared in the Times' international edition (the International Herald Tribune) contained some political raunch sure to delight European readers of a left-wing bent.
Blogger Austin Bay says, "note the sharpened rhetorical daggers" in the lead sentence of the IHT version: "No one would accuse this city of being timid in the scramble to profit from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."
That bit didn't make it into the stateside edition of the Times.
For more on local reaction to the Times story, see the website of Houston's local ABC station, where some found the international version "overly critical, ill-timed, and in poor taste."
Louisiana Democrats can lambaste Bush and the federal government's response to hurricane Katrina all they want without objection from the Times. But let Republican Gov. Haley Barbour dare praise the federal response, and it "raises eyebrows." That's according to a Tuesday story from reporter Michael Cooper, "Bush Has Staunch Defender Amid Critics on Gulf Coast." The text box reads: "Praise for the federal response from a rising G.O.P. star raises eyebrows in his state."
"Mr. Barbour's praise of the federal efforts has put him at odds with some other Mississippi officials who have bemoaned the slow response in their areas and has put him at risk of sounding like a Pollyanna to Mississippians still struggling in the storm's aftermath. But the strategy is unsurprising for a canny political strategist like Mr. Barbour -- a former political director in the Reagan White House, chairman of the Republican Party, and powerful Washington lobbyist -- who won the governorship two years ago by in part emphasizing the strength of his close ties to President Bush."
Geraldo Rivera appeared on The O'Reilly Factor this evening to discuss what he said was a false story printed by The New York Times. Television journalist, Alesssandra Stanley wrote the following snippet that is hidden at the bottom her the article:
Some reporters helped stranded victims because no police officers or rescue workers were around. (Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his rivals one better: yesterday, he nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety.)
News reports alerted the world, and, it seems, an inattentive federal government, to the neglected victims in New Orleans. And television networks even acted as benefactors, holding star-studded telethons to raise money for the storm's victims.
America’s media are, once again, predicting economic doom and gloom as a result of a natural disaster. Such predictions have been wrong before and, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, will likely turn out wrong again.
These predictions fly in the face of strong economic data reported by the Labor Department on Friday – including an August unemployment rate of 4.9 percent that is now the lowest in four years. America’s press decided to play down the positives by focusing on the threat to jobs and the economy as a result of Katrina.
Edmund L. Andrews of The New York Times took a negative outlook with this:
There was loads of competition, but perhaps the most cynical anti-Bush story to appear in the Times from the tragedy-filled holiday weekend came Monday from Adam Nagourney and Anne Kornblut, "White House Enacts a Plan To Ease Political Damage" which worked the cliches of a sinister Karl Rove trying to shift hurricane blame to New Orleans' Democrats.
They begin: "Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan."
The Times warns away anyone who would suggest state and local officials had anything to do with the tragedy of errors that engulfed New Orleans: "In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats. 'The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials," Mr. Chertoff said in his television interview. 'The federal government comes in and supports those officials.' That line of argument was echoed throughout the day, in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line."
For the second time the Times faults the Secretary of State for not being in D.C. while the water was in New Orleans: "[Condoleezza] Rice did not return to Washington until Thursday, after she was spotted at a Broadway show and shopping for shoes, an image that Republicans said buttressed the notion of a White House unconcerned with tragedy."
One wonders how often the Times criticized Warren Christopher or Madeleine Albright, (secretaries of state under Clinton) for not heading off to the scene of natural disasters.
The NY Times today seemed so excited to see former President Clinton involved in hurricane relief that it practically ignored his partner in this pursuit, former President Bush. In fact, this article refers to Mr. Clinton by name at least 17 times, his wife five times, while the former President Bush is actually only named twice. From this, one would think that he’s such an afterthought that this effort should be called the Clinton-Clinton Katrina Fund.
What is also striking about this article is its condescending tone toward current President Bush:
When David Brooks first joined the NY Times in September 2003, it initially seemed that he was going to be able to keep his conservative leanings, and would be a fine replacement for William Safire once the latter had retired. However, lately it seems that Mr. Brooks is being co-opted by others on the Times editorial staff.
In fact, his latest op-ed sounds like it could have been written by either Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd:
The scrapbook of history accords but a few pages to each decade, and it is already clear that the pages devoted to this one will be grisly. There will be pictures of bodies falling from the twin towers, beheaded kidnapping victims in Iraq and corpses still floating in the waterways of New Orleans five days after the disaster that caused them.
Katrina means that the political culture, already sour and bloody-minded in many quarters, will shift. There will be a reaction. There will be more impatience for something new. There is going to be some sort of big bang as people respond to the cumulative blows of bad events and try to fundamentally change the way things are.
Well, we all knew this was coming. A New York Times editorial quite strongly suggests that income tax rates in our nation should now be raised as a result of Hurricane Katrina:
Congress and the president had better get the message: an extraordinary time is upon the nation. The annihilation in New Orleans is an irrefutable sign that the national tax-cut party is over. So is the idea that American voters cannot be required to accept sacrifice or inconvenience, no matter how great the crisis. This country is better than that.
Yep. With higher fuel prices, along with what are sure to be higher heating and electricity bills this winter, what all those suffering from hurricane damages definitively need is higher federal income taxes.
In the days since Hurricane Katrina struck, there has been a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing at the Bush administration concerning budget cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers that might have shored up the levee system surrounding New Orleans. The most recent such tirade comes from Times economic writer Paul Krugman:
Why wasn't more preventive action taken? After 2003 the Army Corps of Engineers sharply slowed its flood-control work, including work on sinking levees. "The corps," an Editor and Publisher article says, citing a series of articles in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain."
As depicted in a recent posting by NewsBusters own David Pierre, cable outlets like CNN have started to depict race as a "hindrance of choice" to the rescue efforts that are taking place on a massive scale in New Orleans. Predictably, old media outlets like the New York Times have followed suit.
In an article by the Times David Gonzalez, the fault lies not with a category 5 Hurricane, but with white people in general, and President Bush principally. Gonzalez starts out this way:
No longer mincing words, a New York Timeseditorial puts the blame for the current post-Katrina disaster area in New Orleans squarely on the backs of the Bush administration and its diverted attention to the war in Iraq:
Watching helplessly from afar, many citizens wondered whether rescue operations were hampered because almost one-third of the men and women of the Louisiana National Guard, and an even higher percentage of the Mississippi National Guard, were 7,000 miles away, fighting in Iraq. That's an even bigger loss than the raw numbers suggest because many of these part-time soldiers had to leave behind their full-time jobs in police and fire departments or their jobs as paramedics. Regardless of whether they wear public safety uniforms in civilian life, the guardsmen in Iraq are a crucial resource sorely missed during these early days, when hours have literally meant the difference between evacuation and inundation, between civic order and chaos, between life and death.
Hurricane Katrina is a U.S. natural disaster unparalleled in modern times, leaving at least half of a major city underwater. In this national tragedy, the nation's paper of record rises to the occasion by declaring everything Bush's fault. But perhaps some blame could be more plausibly apportioned to the Times' own editorial page
Yesterday's lead New York Times editorial, "Waiting for a Leader," asks: "While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?"
Perhaps they were reading old Times editorials on flood control. As the EU Rota blog notes, the Times editorial page has often criticized such efforts as anti-environmental boondoggles.
No, this isn’t about Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman. That’s too easy. It’s about a story on flooding in New Orleans today (1 September). Here’s the lede:
“The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years.”
The second and third paragraphs say:
“Often leading the chorus was Alfred C. Naomi, a senior project manager for the corps... [who] grew particularly frustrated this year as the Gulf Coast braced for what forecasters said would be an intense hurricane season and a nearly simultaneous $71 million cut was announced in the New Orleans district budget to guard against such storms.”
As the pressure mounts on the media to figure out more and more creative ways to blame the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Bush administration, a front-page New York Times article by David Sanger appears to lay the post-hurricane looting right at the White House doorstep:
Even before Hurricane Katrina, governors were beginning to question whether National Guard units stretched to the breaking point by service in Iraq would be available for domestic emergencies. Those concerns have now been amplified by scenes of looting and disorder.
In a column for the Los Angeles Times, former NYT Executive Editor (and eternal blowhard) Howell Raines joins the left wing in using the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to bash Bush:
"The dilatory performance of George Bush during the past week has been outrageous. Almost as unbelievable as Katrina itself is the fact that the leader of the free world has been outshone by the elected leaders of a region renowned for governmental ineptitude.
"Louisiana's anguished governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, climbed into a helicopter at the first possible moment to survey what may become the worst weather-related disaster in American history. Even Gov. Haley R. Barbour of Mississippi, a tiresome blowhard as chairman of the Republican National Committee, has shown a throat-catching public sorrow and sleepless diligence that put Bush to shame.
Reporter Carl Hulse flips through former conservative Sen. Jesse Helms' memoir, "Here's Where I Stand." The headline accurately captures the loaded nature of the review: "In Memoir, Jesse Helms Says He Was No Racist."
Hulse begins: "Former Senator Jesse Helms defends his record on race relations and explores his role in the rise of the modern conservative movement in a new memoir that reserves some of its harshest words for the news media."
Hulse brings up some of Helms' most controversial moments: "In his book, he disputes the idea that he injected racial politics into one of those re-election bids -- his 1990 contest against Harvey Gantt, a former mayor of Charlotte and a black man who supported a civil rights measure that Mr. Helms and other conservatives said could lead to job quotas. Late in the close fight, the Helms campaign broadcast a commercial that showed the hands of a white person crumpling an employment rejection letter while the announcer said the position had to go to a minority applicant. Mr. Helms's book does not discuss the imagery in that commercial but said the advertisement was created by his advisers 'to help voters understand the practical reality of the law Gantt favored.'"
By contrast, the Times ignored the recent memoir of an even more racially controversial senator still serving: Ex-Klansman (and fiercely anti-Bush Democrat) Sen. Robert Byrd.
As Brit Hume pointed out in his FOX News broadcast today, the NY Times reported that the President said protesters like Cindy Sheehan were weakening the United States and emboldening terrorists. Here's NY Times writer, Elisabeth Bumiller's, direct quote:
"Mr. Bush has been careful not to go on a direct attack against a publicly grieving mother like Ms. Sheehan, and has pointed out that he met with her once already, in 2004, and that he has sympathy for her and her right to protest. Still, he said last week that protesters like her were weakening the United States and emboldening terrorists, and vowed that he would not immediately withdraw all American troops from Iraq, as she has demanded."
Today the Washington Post's Peter Carlson "celebrates" the 10th anniversary of The Weekly Standard magazine, puckishly noting that it "is a truly excellent right-wing warmongering magazine, no matter what your political persuasion might be."
Carlson unearths a bit of prescient "warmongering" to demonstrate the WS's reach: "Without a doubt, the most important idea yet advanced by the Standard came in the essay 'Saddam Must Go,' written by Kristol and Robert Kagan and published in November 1997. The idea was: Hey, let's invade Iraq, conquer Baghdad and overthrow Saddam Hussein for expelling American weapons inspectors. At the time, nobody paid much attention to the suggestion. But five years later, President Bush dusted off the idea and ordered the Pentagon to execute it. And, as we all know now, it worked perfectly. Or maybe not. You make the call."
Former Times' reporter Chris Hedges, who never let his job as a journalist get in the way of his strident anti-war activism, finds war veterans a self-pitying lot, blind to their own complicity in the horrors of war. At least that's how Hedges comes across in his review of "Black Virgin Mountain -- A Return to Vietnam," an autobiography by Vietnam veteran and author Larry Heinemann.
Hedges, a longtime NYT foreign affairs reporter, is now a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, affiliated with the left-wing Nation magazine. Strangely, the byline of the review says nothing about his years at the Times. Embarassment? And if so, on whose end?
NewsBusters readers were amused at the idea of liberal bias in the Washington Post sports section, so for a little weekend fun, let's revisit a couple of examples of wild editorializing in strange places in the newspaper. In 2003, this New York Times quote earned a Runner-Up mention in our Best of Notable Quotables with this memorable clip from an article on Norway's seafood:
“If you see a whole monkfish at the market, you’ll find its massive mouth scarier than a shark’s. Apparently it sits on the bottom of the ocean, opens its Godzilla jaws and waits for poor unsuspecting fishies to swim right into it, not unlike the latest recipients of W’s capital-gains cuts.” – Food writer Jonathan Reynolds in a July 27, 2003 New York Times Magazine article...
Fresh from his performance on ABC’s This Week this past Sunday, the New York Times economic writer, Paul Krugman, has a new op-ed today filled with more delicious economic distortions:
But although many people say "four million jobs in the last two years" reverently, as if it were an amazing achievement, it's actually a rise of about 3 percent, not much faster than the growth of the working-age population over the same period.
Nice factoid, but not altogether relevant. After all, not everybody that is of working age is actually looking for a job, correct? Some of these folks may have retired early, or are housewives/househusbands or students. As such, the more appropriate measure of employment is how many jobs are being created compared to the growth in the labor force.