NYT Still Blaming Bush for "Faltering Response" to Katrina

September 16th, 2005 11:14 AM

Friday brings New York Times reporter Richard Stevenson's latest biased "news analysis," "Amid the Ruins, a President Tries to Reconstruct His Image, Too." Tasteful metaphor, eh?

Twice in his story in the news pages, Stevenson cites as fact Bush's "faltering response" to Katrina, while again ignoring state and local (and Democratic) culpability.

"The violence of Hurricane Katrina and his faltering response to it have left to Mr. Bush the task not just of physically rebuilding a swath of the United States, but also of addressing issues like poverty and racial inequality that were exposed in such raw form by the storm. The challenge would be immense for any president, but is especially so for Mr. Bush. He is scrambling to assure a shaken, angry nation not only that is he up to the task but also that he understands how much it disturbed Americans to see their fellow citizens suffering and their government responding so ineffectually.

"So for nearly 30 minutes, he stood in a largely lifeless New Orleans and, to recast his presidency in response to one of the nation's most devastating disasters, sought to show that he understands the suffering. He spoke of housing and health care and job training. He reached with rhetorical confidence for the uplifting theme that out of tragedy can emerge a better society, and he groped for what he lost in the wind and water more than two weeks ago: his well-cultivated image as a strong leader."

When it comes to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Times has never tried to pin or suggest blame lies anywhere but with President George W. Bush, despite ample evidence elsewhere of congressional and local failures. Stevenson continues mining that same vein:

"But if the speech helped him clear his first hurdle by projecting the aura of a president at the controls, it probably did not, by itself, get him over a second: his need to erase or at least blur the image of a White House that was unresponsive to the plight of some of the country's most vulnerable citizens and failed to manage the government competently. Whether he can put a floor under his falling poll numbers, restore his political authority and move ahead with his agenda will determine not just the course of his second term but the strength of his party, which by virtue of having controlled both the White House and the Congress for more than five years has trouble credibly pinning the blame elsewhere."

Even a Sheryl Gay Stolberg piece on John Roberts gets into the blame-the-feds act. Although Times' bias on Roberts has been somewhat reined in during the hearings, Stolberg mentions "The vote will come as Democrats sense President Bush is vulnerable. His poll numbers are at the lowest point of his presidency amid public outrage over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and Democrats hope to turn that outrage into a powerful message to voters during the 2006 midterm elections."

What outrage? The Times own poll didn't find much (though you can't read it in the paper itself, only on the poll posted yesterday at nytimes.com).

Question 53 asked respondents to parcel out blame for post-Katrina conditions, and the public spread it around, with the feds garnering a 10% share, the state of Louisiana 7%, the city of New Orleans 12%, and FEMA 11%, with 12% blaming the residents who didn't evacuate. Bush himself got 8% of the blame.

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.