Tornado Survivors Overwhelmed by Government’s Quick Response, Media Mum

During the 2005 disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina, you couldn’t turn on a television set without seeing some washed-out resident complaining about the terrible job the federal government was doing with rescue, relief, and evacuation.

By contrast, in the days following the destruction of Greensburg, Kansas, by an F-5 tornado, the only one complaining is the state’s Democrat Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who, as we’ll discuss later, might have been set up to do so by DNC Chairman Howard Dean.

Yet, have you seen any interviews with Greensburg residents unhappy with the government response to the disaster?

Well, on Wednesday, the website for WCBS-TV in New York published an article suggesting that residents were overwhelmed by the immediate response, and that the governor's fuss was for her own good” (emphasis added throughout, h/t Gateway Pundit):

While Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Bush administration jaw back-and-forth over the relief efforts for Greensburg, Kan., the town devastated by Friday night's F-5 tornado, town residents have chimed in and say they couldn't be any happier with the response from the government and other rescue units.

"The poor response thing is just political BS," Greensburg resident Mike Swigart, 47, who lost his house and four vehicles from the storm, told in an exclusive interview. "I saw her on television and I'm disappointed in that because she doesn't know what she's talking about."

Haven’t heard about this? Haven’t seen Swigart interviewed by a teary-eyed Katie Couric or Meredith Vieira? Wonder why? Well, there’s more:

"You may have seen her on television when she said that, and she talked about Hummers, that we needed Hummers. There were Hummers sitting in front of my house every day. The National Guard was there," he said. "I saw people from all over who came right away to help and nobody sent them, they just came because they knew it was going to be big. The response was excellent, the rescue efforts were all night long, and I even made a comment to my wife later that night when we came back into our basement that I can't imagine anyone saying we had a poor response to this tragedy, that it was so quick and it was amazing."

Swigart says the general feeling around the town is that residents were overwhelmed by the immediate response, and that the governor's fuss was for her own good. White House press secretary Tony Snow responded to Sebelius by saying that there was no request by Kansas officials for extra equipment, and that if there is anyone to blame, it's her.

"I was told she wanted to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket, and honestly, I wouldn't vote for her if they paid me because of that one thing she said on television right there. It was a political slam is all it was," he said. "It was a political statement and as far as the military thing overseas, I support what they're doing over there, and the military that came here is doing a great job too."

Any questions as to why it appears that the only other media outlet that has spoken or referred to Swigart is Investor’s Business Daily in a May 9 editorial slamming Sebelius for “Katrinafying” the tornado? Think he'd be getting a lot of interviews if he agreed with the Governor's negative view of the relief?

Regardless, there may be another political reason Sebelius has fabricated this story about a poor National Guard response that the media are currently ignoring. According to Bryan at Hot Air, XM Satellite Radio’s Quinn and Rose reported Thursday that DNC Chairman Howard Dean “called Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius early Sunday morning and instructed her not to request federal assistance in recovery from the Greensburg tornado, and to lie about the federal response to date.”

An update at Hot Air stated:

I’ve placed calls to Sen. Brownback, Gov. Sebelius and the DNC. I left a message with Brownback’s office and Gov. Sebelius’ staff. The DNC spokesman denied that the phone call took place and is working on getting an official denial out to me as soon as he can.

However, Bryan included a text of an e-mail message he received from Quinn and Rose claiming that Sebelius had called Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) apologizing for the statements she made concerning the federal response:

She explained that she did not believe them and that they actually had too many National Guardsmen show up.

Governor Sebelius explained “Sam, you know how political everything is right now and we’re not allowed to let an opportunity like this just pass.” She continued “I made sure not to blame you or Pat (Senator Roberts?) or anybody outside the White House. With his (Bush’s) numbers, you can’t really blame me for usin’ that.”

Once again, at this point, there has been no official statement confirming or denying this allegation. However, if the situation had been reversed, and Sebelius was a Republican who had been instructed to lie about this response by RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, would this be headline, front-page news regardless of the lack of an official statement?

If the answer is an unequivocal “Yes,” the question is “Why?”

Stay tuned.

*****Update: Hot Air reported that the DNC, Brownbeck, and Sebelius have all written formal denials that this took place.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.