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."
Picture of Bush's sweat-soaked shirt and transcript follows. Video excerpt: RealPlayer or Windows Media
Sharyn Alfonsi began her September 20 CBS Evening News story from New Orleans with how French Quarter restaurant owner Arly Questa is frustrated she can't get supplies and can't leave and return with them, how people are confused in general because they were allowed to return and now are told they must leave, and how, though told to pack supplies and cash, people are unable to get cash from ATMs. Following some clips of people expressing disappointment that ATMs are out of cash, Alfonsi jumped to this clip of Bush before a crowd inside a big tent:
George W. Bush: "Every time I come back here, I see progress."Alfonsi concluded with how French Quarter restaurants may lose $500 million this year and that the Navy is moving its ships out of New Orleans to avoid the new hurricane.
Alfonsi asserted: "Speaking inside an air-conditioned tent in Gulfport, Mississippi, President Bush said he's impressed with the progress along the Gulf Coast. Later, he toured a Folgers plant [video of Bush holding can of coffee] in Louisiana. But small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception. This is the reality [video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts]. After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee [more video of Bush, with a sweat-soaked shirt (see still shot to right) at the coffee plant]."
Arly Questa, restaurant owner, in front of her bar: "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."
Questa: "Yes, very."
(The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided me with the above transcript.)