Report: MSNBC Scales Back Katrina Coverage to Avoid Brian Williams Scandal

August 28th, 2015 11:51 AM

Emily Smith of the New York Post’s Page Six reports that MSNBC scaled back its coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina because Brian Williams “misremembered” that he saw a dead body float past his hotel while he was there.

Since MSNBC ended up with Williams as a breaking news anchor with no assigned program as a fall-back after his wild exaggerations cost him his Nightly News anchor job, decided not to send any key anchors to New Orleans, enabling them to avoid awkward references to the Williams scandal. 

Williams had been due to start his new job at MSNBC in August, but that date was pushed back to mid-September. Meanwhile, NBC has a big team on the ground in New Orleans, including Williams’ successor, Lester Holt, who is anchoring NBC Nightly News live from Jackson Square on Friday.

An insider told us, “MSNBC is sensitive about Brian Williams and his reporting on Katrina. None of their anchors are there this weekend. Brian’s mid-September start date was carefully scheduled to avoid the Katrina anniversary, among other considerations.”

Back in February, The Washington Post reported that Myra DeGersdorff, the manager of the Ritz-Carlton hotel where Brian Williams stayed on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleands, had a very different account of Katrina’s effects in that area. While he painted a scary picture of gangs roaming the streets and no medical care for the victims, the hotel manager said “None of the guests were in danger of being harmed. And none were.”

Ten years ago, it was NBC and MSNBC that tremendously hyped Mayor Ray Nagin's Today show estimate of 10,000 dead in New Orleans. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asked Williams why President Bush would address the nation in prime time from an area unaffected by flooding while the anchorman was "reporting from a major American city where young children died of dehydration out on sidewalks." Not to be outdone, Williams lectured: "I hope the lesson of this is not that my son and daughter at home have been assigned a different value as humans in the United States than their equivalents here in New Orleans." 

Williams also spread anti-Bush anecdotes from the radio: "One of the major radio stations still broadcasting chose not to broadcast his [Bush's] remarks, saying at one point, 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."