At the Associated Press yesterday, Michael Kunzelman managed to write a 500-word story about the arraignment of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on bribery charges without once mentioning that Nagin is a Democrat.
That's probably not a "Name That Party" record for "Most Words Used in an AP Story about a Democratic Politician Tainted by Scandal and/or Corruption," but it's especially galling, given the mayor's culpability (along with then-Governor Kathleen Blanco) for failing to ensure that New Orleans was evacuated on a timely basis in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina, and given the national press's non-stop blaming of President George W. Bush for the death, destruction and mayhem which followed. Excerpts from Kunzelman's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
As Carnival Triumph passengers began to deboard their crippled ship late Thursday night, CNN's Martin Savidge decided to compare their "isolation factor" at sea to that of Hurricane Katrina victims. Passenger Rob Kenny quickly put the cruise fiasco in perspective.
"Katrina was a major devastation. We're on a friggin' cruise ship and we're just all having a good time," he told Savidge. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday night ran short items on the federal corruption indictments against the bumbling former Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, but skipped his party affiliation, a fact Reuters considered newsworthy – if not until their sixth paragraph: “Nagin, 56, and a Democrat...”
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer generously described Nagin as “the face of Hurricane Katrina...then the Mayor of New Orleans fighting for his city.”
Leave it to a Washington Post book reviewer to find a way to blame George W. Bush for the Irish Potato Famine. Okay, Peter Behrens didn't do exactly that, but he used the occasion of reviewing two books about the mass starvation of millions of Irish in the 1840s as an opportunity to bash the Bush administration over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Oh, I almost forgot, the bogeyman of the "free market" also finds itself in Behren's sights.
In his January 13 Washington Post item, Behrens reviewed two new books on the subject, The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy and The Graves are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People, by Tim Pat Coogan and John Kelly respectively. Behrens favorably accepted Coogan's conclusion that “it was British reluctance to interfere with the supposed workings of the free-market economy that allowed famine to continue in Ireland at a time when the country was producing and exporting tons of food to England.”
CBS ran a puff piece Friday morning on President Obama's visit to hurricane-ravaged Staten Island, which stood in stark contrast to its hostile treatment of President Bush's visit to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
CBS played into the Obama PR strategy, simply noting that he "pledged the government's support" to Staten Island residents and "met with families who've lost everything." In addition, they aired his plea for the insurance companies to support the victims, afterward quoting residents who were upset with the insurance companies.
In the days following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, America's media elite blasted the former Bush administration for not providing relief supplies to residents who were affected by the storm. With a Democrat in the White House now, however, reporters are saying almost nothing as New Yorkers are being ignored by various levels of government.
With hundreds of thousands of his own residents are stuck with no power, water, gasoline or food on Staten Island, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has allowed the annual marathon that runs through the city's boroughs to continue as scheduled. That decision ought to have set off New York's media elite but instead, they are actually gearing up to cover the non-essential race and not condemning the city for diverting resources from helping storm victims to prep for the race.
In an appearance on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, the network's political director John Dickerson stopped by to briefly discuss the impact Hurricane Sandy could have on the upcoming election.
The segment was primarily focused on how the candidates will try to sensitively make up for lost time on the campaign trail, but there was an underlying question. Who stands to gain the advantage as a result?
In a stunning omission on Wednesday's NBC Today, brief coverage of a 2007 video of Barack Obamacompletely ignored the then-Senator praising his controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright as a "great leader, not just in Chicago, but all across the country." The NBC morning show adopted a dismissive attitude toward the video, with co-host Savannah Guthrie leading off the broadcast: "Conservatives circulate a five-year-old video, in a move the Obama campaign calls desperate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd further quoted Obama talking points: "In a transparent attempt to change the subject from his comments attacking half of the American people, Mitt Romney's allies re-circulated video of a 2007 event that was open to and extensively covered by the press at the time."
Since September 2, NewsBusters has been showcasing the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala next week.
Click here for blog posts recounting the worst of 1988 through 2004. Today, the worst bias of 2005: NBC’s Brian Williams equates America’s Founding Fathers with the zealots running Iran; ex-New York Times editor Howell Raines goes on a post-Katrina rant about the human carnage caused by the Bush administration’s “churchgoing populism,” and Ted Turner tries to defend North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il . [Quotes and video below the jump.]
On Monday night, Politico posted two stories with the same theme: Tropical Storm Isaac seriously threatens to ruin the Republican convention and remind voters of Republican incompetence during hurricanes. Does anyone think this outfit is fair and balanced?
In the story “GOP fears ghost of Hurricane Katrina at RNC 2012,” Politico's Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman just keep skipping over the Democratic mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic governor of Louisiana as they predict the most damaging political scenario they can hope for, er, imagine as the storm spared the GOP convention site in Tampa:
For the second straight night, NBC Nightly News on Monday played the Hurricane Katrina card against Republicans, as Tropical Storm Isaac veered away from Tampa and took aim at New Orleans. Andrea Mitchell hyped that "both Republicans and Democrats...have a challenge - a political challenge here with this approaching storm, especially for the Republicans. No one here can easily forget the iconic picture of President Bush flying on Air Force One...looking down at New Orleans during Katrina." [audio available here; video below the jump]
Anchor Brian Williams also played up how the Romney family has been "forced to talk about their rightfully gained enormous wealth - having been successful in business, the garage for their cars at their home in La Jolla, California."
In a report for Monday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd was eager to paint a picture of Republicans in disarray prior to the GOP convention: "The specter of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, which proved so politically damaging to George W. Bush, looms large here in Tampa. It's the latest in a series of distractions that has jolted the Romney campaign off its core economic message..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Sunday's Today, co-host Jenna Wolfe proclaimed: "It's been a tough week for Republicans." As the headline on screen announced "GOP's Hurdles Heading Into Convention," Wolfe proceeded to rattle off supposed evidence of her assertion:
In light of Tropical Storm Isaac threatening the Gulf coast during the Republican National Convention, The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza evoked shades of Hurricane Katrina and the Bush malaise on Monday's Starting Point.
"Does the Republican Party worry about that right now, that when you think of hurricane and Republicans, that it's not necessarily two things that have gone together in the past?" asked Lizza, who ignored the fact that a Democrat, not a Republican, is in the White House, and will be in charge if Isaac makes landfall and wreaks havoc. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Now that Hurricane Isaac missed Tampa thereby dashing liberal media hopes the Republican National Convention would be destroyed by it, so-called journalists are taking up a new theme to rain on Mitt Romney's pending nomination.
Take NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd who said on Sunday's Nightly News, "When you think as this storm moves to and closer to Louisiana, the specter, the sort of shadow of Bush and Katrina does hang over this convention" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Chuck Todd raised the invoked former President Bush and Hurricane Katrina from seven years ago as potential embarrassments for the Romney campaign as Hurricane Isaac heads toward New Orleans the same week as the Republican National Convention.
During a discussion of the GOP convention being delayed from Monday because of the hurricane, Todd asserted that "the sort of shadow of Bush and Katrina does hang over this convention" and also worked in Todd Akin as he observed:
CNN's White House correspondent Dan Lothian made headlines with his ridiculous softball question to President Obama on Sunday. However, as NewsBusters has documented, Lothian has posed such a soft question to Obama before, and has shown some liberal bias in his past reporting.
Lothian asked the President at Sunday's press conference in Hawaii if he thought the Republican candidates, who supported the practice of waterboarding, were "uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible." Fox News analyst Bernie Goldberg later called it "the most ridiculous question I have ever heard by a regular reporter from a so-called mainstream news outfit. Ever." [Video of the question below the break. Click here for audio.]
Although interviewee Harry Connick Jr. was unwilling to cast blame towards any specific person or agenda over the failed response to the Hurricane Katrina in 2005, CNN's Piers Morgan thrice tried to bait him into doing so on Monday.
Connick stated on Piers Morgan Tonight that "at this point, what good is it going to do to blame local or state or federal government?" Yet Morgan emphasized the "scandalously slow" response to the disaster by authorities, and even noted liberal conspiracy claims that "surreptitious racism" was involved. [Video below the break. Click here for audio]
CBS's Bill Plante inserted the oft-repeated media spin about the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina into his report on Monday's Early Show. Plante ignored the poor handling of Katrina at the state and local levels, spotlighting instead how "the stranded and homeless wandered the streets of New Orleans" as Bush flew overhead. But three days earlier, CBS brought on former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin as an "expert" on hurricane preparation without mentioning his failures.
Fill-in anchor Jeff Glor stated in his introduction for the correspondent's report that "Irene was not as bad as some thought it might be, but politicians were not taking any chances. They know what happens when government is ill-prepared for disaster." Plante began by spotlighting the Obama administration's response to Hurricane Irene:
On Friday's Early Show, CBS somehow thought it was appropriate to bring on former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to offer "lessons learned from other hurricanes," as Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast. Anchor Chris Wragge not only failed to ask Nagin about his failures in leadership in the lead-up to Hurricane Katrina, but also twice labeled his guest an "expert in the field" [audio clips available here].
After making his first reference to the former mayor as an "expert," Wragge first asked the Democrat, "What comes to mind for you when you hear about a hurricane this size bearing down on the East Coast, a region- especially up here in the Northeast, it's not always used to this kind of weather conditions?" In reply, the politician took the time to not only promote his new book, but also tried to rehabilitate his damaged image:
[Video clips from the segment available after the jump]
Update (17:48 EDT): Nagin was also interviewed on today's "Hardball," which was guest-hosted by Chris Jansing.
Teasing his Friday 3 p.m. ET hour show on MSNBC, anchor Martin Bashir proclaimed that he would have a special guest on to discuss incoming Hurricane Irene: "Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin joins us to explain what leaders must do to avoid the mistakes that were made six years ago." [Audio available here]
Bashir was "delighted" to have Nagin on the program and began by asking about the response of political leaders to the storm: "Is it your view, sir, that they are handling preparations for this hurricane in the best way possible?" Bashir followed up by wondering: "...with the benefit of your experience, what are the critical actions that you think need to be taken to ensure that Hurricane Irene, or any other act of mother nature, does not become Katrina, Part II?"
Thanks to Scott Whitlock for providing video after the jump
Promoting his new book, 'Katrina's Secrets,' on Monday's NBC Today, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin stood by his assertion that racism played a role in the Bush administration's response to the storm: "I'm not telling you that President Bush was a racist or what have you. But I think race and class and politics played in just about every aspect of this disaster."
Co-host Matt Lauer claimed that Nagin was "very honest and open" in the book, at least in his ability to "blame President Bush, FEMA Director Michael Brown and others for slow federal response." After quoting Nagin's suggestion in the book that race was a factor, Lauer referred to the accusation as a "Kanye West moment" and wondered: "What proof do you have that it contributed to the slow response?"
Are deadly tornadoes really the best "stimulus" to be hoped for from the Obama White House, or is the New York Times just desperately looking for economics green shoots as the 2012 presidential elections approach?
Actor and filmmaker Harry Shearer, best known for his voice work in 'The Simpsons', blasted the news media in a speech to the National Press Club on Monday.
Specifically, he singled out the media's "myth-making" tendency - its constant desire to fit current events into mostly pre-formed narratives. "What I’m calling a ‘template,’ is based on facts. Some facts. A partial collection. The first dusting," Shearer claimed. "It then becomes adopted as ‘the narrative.' The mental doors lock shut, and no further facts are allowed in."
On Friday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, host Keith Olbermann announced that the episode would be his last, and spent a few minutes near the end of the show saying goodbye. He mentioned a number of infamous and pivotal points in his show’s history when he went after the Bush administration:
The show gradually established its position as anti-establishment from the stagecraft of "Mission Accomplished," to the exaggerated rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, to the death of Pat Tillman to Hurricane Katrina, to the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," to the first "Special Comment."
As he listed a number of prominent supporters of his show, he ended up notably giving credit to the late Tim Russert of NBC for being "my greatest protector, and most indefatigable cheerleader."
Below the fold is the video and a complete transcript of Olbermann's announcement from the Friday, January 21, Countdown show on MSNBC, from about 8:53 p.m.:
The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina recalls a horror show on two levels. There’s the actual disaster which killed hundreds of people – and then there’s the media smear job on the Bush administration and first responders. No one should forget pompous grandstanders like “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams signing off three months after the floods from the Lower Ninth Ward: "This is a neighborhood that's been left to die."
How those network anchors loved hurricane hyperbole! Williams, for one, lectured the nation that the hurricane should “necessitate a national discussion on race, on oil, politics, class, infrastructure, the environment, and more.” He underlined that a top local radio station decided not to air President Bush’s remarks from the city since “nothing he could say could ever help them deal with the dire situation unfolding live in the streets of New Orleans, where people were still dying during his visit."
It never mattered to these nattering nabobs that, as Popular Mechanics magazine documented, Katrina spurred by far the largest and fastest rescue effort in American history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's landfall, rescuing an estimated 50,000 residents.
Five years ago on Sunday, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf coast, devastating much of the region, and most memorably New Orleans. Yesterday was an occasion to look back at what went wrong in the city, and hope that the same mistakes are not made again.
One of the most notorious failures surrounding Katrina was the media's coverage of the situation in New Orleans. One "well-known [television] anchor," actor and filmmaker Harry Shearer recalled in an interview with Daily Finance's Jeff Bercovici, claimed the "the emotional stories are more compelling for our audience." Hence, the media mostly ignored the larger issues facing the city - survivors still stranded on rooftops, the reasons for the levy's failures - in favor of more sensationalistic, occasionally outright false stories.
Shearer gives the media's coverage - with the notable exceptions of only a couple outlets - a D-minus.
Interviewing President Barack Obama in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, Brian Williams treated Obama with a level of deference he didn’t afford to President George W. Bush as he treated Obama as a great oracle of wisdom to pluck. “Katrina was about so many things. It was about class and race and government and the environment,” Williams told Obama in the except aired on the NBC Nightly News, yearning for guidance: “Whatever happened to that national conversation we were supposed to have about it?”
Williams raised how “it's getting baked in a little bit in the media that BP was President Obama's Katrina. And it's also getting baked in that the administration was slow off the mark,” but only to cue up Obama: “Is that unfair?” As the economy continues in dire straights and Obama’s economic policy of “stimulus” spending has obviously failed, all Williams could ask was: “Do you have anything new on the economy?”
Williams fretted that though “you're an American-born Christian...significant numbers of Americans in polls, upwards of a fifth of respondents are claiming you are neither.” The “question” from Williams: “This has to be troubling to you. This is, of course, all-new territory for an American President.”
As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina slamming New Orleans nears, the folks at NBC offered viewers a "Meet the Press" special edition with a sadly predictable conclusion: the disaster was all George W. Bush and the federal government's fault.
The New Orleans mayor at the time was almost entirely ignored in this hour-long examination. The only mention of the state's former governor was actually one of praise.
Rather than offering one new compelling insight into the natural disaster that changed America, the invited guests all fed fill-in host Brian Williams the same old tired lines about racism and classism; despite numerous opportunities to delve into the decades of political corruption in the region that left the levees surrounding New Orleans in a dreadful state of disrepair, the subject was never broached.
Instead, what ensued - given all the time and resources available to really do a groundbreaking exposé on this issue - was something all those involved should be tremendously embarrassed for.
Frankly, that was clear right from the get go (partial video follows with partial transcript and commentary, full video and transcript here and here respectively):
Five year ago today, Hurricane Katrina slammed Louisiana and Mississippi forever changing America.
In the midst of unthinkable devastation, the media coverage of this natural disaster was disgraceful.
Despite almost immoral bungling by New Orleans' mayor and Louisiana's governor, as well as decades of corruption that left this city's levee system in a state of shameful disrepair, President George W. Bush was made the culprit for the damage, the suffering, and the loss.
Katrina largely signaled the end of the Bush presidency just eight months into his second term, and America's press were largely to blame.
How do you see this disaster five years later and how the media handled it? Was it an ominous precursor to the absolutely abysmal job so-called journalists did in covering the 2008 presidential election? What have we learned from this event about the power of the press, and what can be done about it?