How’re they doing?

The best of journalism in the Katrina crisis is not what it seems.

Bill Maher said that with Katrina, “we got our press back.” Howard Kurtz said that “journalism seems to have recovered its reason for being.” The BBC said said reporting on Katrina “was public service journalism ruthlessly exposing the truth on a live and continuous basis.” The headline over Slate’s Jack Shafer said that “newscasters, sick of official lies and stonewalling, finally start snarling.”

And, yes, it has been good and bracing and gratifying to see reporters once again challenging power, who damned well deserve to be challenged. I’ve cheered Shepard Smith, Anderson Cooper, Soledad O’Brien, the Times-Picayune, the Washington Post (as it has dug deeper than the NY Times), and even the New York Post as it criticized administration performance.

But there shouldn’t be anything terribly shocking or new in this rediscovery of journalism’s balls. The story has been so horrifying — so filled with tragedy, too much of it needless, and injustice and inequity and incompetence and photographic, quotable pathos — that it would take the worst sycophantic administration-ass-kissing lapdog not to see it and get enraged on behalf of all of us.

So, no, though I am glad to see it, I don’t think anger is the best of journalism’s performance in Katrina.

I think the best of it is that journalism knows it has not done its best. That is new.

Last week, as the horror of it only started to rise, Aaron Brown turned his langorous gaze to the camera and tried to ask a correspondent whether we — CNN, reporters, all of journalism — yet had our hands around the story, the size of it. He didn’t get an answer — bad communications got in the way — but that didn’t matter, for the question was the answer. No, we did not nearly know what the story was.

And a few days later, in a cameo on a WNBC telethon, Brian Williams flat out said that news media — and he led the charged — had not grasped or conveyed the full story.

I don’t know whether this is really the mark of a new humility, transparency, fallibility, and humanity in big news. But I hope it is.

The press has had to play catchup to every angle of this story: from the weathermen missing the real story of the storm many times over … to the entire industry only now just beginning to get hold of the deep and profound racial story here… to cozy happy-talk hosts in cool studios having to be slapped around by reporters standing knee-deep in the muck of destruction…. to the enormity and possibly the hopelessness of the work to follow… to the impact on the world economy from one storm’s damage in one day… to the exodus of survivors rising out of that muck… to the failures of government at every level… to the politicization of this tragedy…

But I sense a real difference in the coverage of this: an understanding that they are behind, that this story is too big for any oracle on the network mountaintop to report and understand.

Or at least I hope that’s what I’m seeing.

: See also Alessandra Stanley and David Carr in the Times and Peter Johnson in USA Today.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Press Role

    The foot soldiers of the press are predominantly liberal. This has been shown by numerous surveys and is frequently quoted by the right as proof of media “bias”. On the other hand the companies they work for are part of the big business environment of the country and their interests are allied with other big businesses and dependent on favorable treatment from the government.

    This conflict in interests has become more stark since the days of the Nixon presidency when government power was used to go after the critical press. The consolidation of media ownership has also raised the stakes for any company which angers the government. This has led to thirty years of increasingly timid reporting of government and business processes.

    The trend reached its culmination during the Newt Gingrich era when the “bias” charge was added to the mix of intimidation and business bribes. The reporters have gotten increasingly frustrated as a consequence. The people who go into this field are motivated by a sense of moral outrage at the injustices in the world and the belief that telling the facts will improve things.

    The events of the past five years have brought this to a head. Before this were the media distortions over the Clinton affair, then the back story about 9/11. Then we had the media manipulation of the run up to the war and the continuing flow of information about the progress in Iraq. The hurricane is the first opportunity where the frustrated press can finally criticize the government without worrying too much about being branded biased or liberal. By framing things in terms of human tragedy they are mostly immunized against attack. So, perhaps the media is getting its spine back, or perhaps it is just the first instance in twenty years when they can do some payback for the abuse they feel they have suffered.

    The truth will be revealed when it comes time to report on the next big story.

  • Mac Echols

    So far your web site and comment is classic (and predictable) knee jerk blame of Bush for the “tragic” lateness of the federal response. Prehaps you and your readers should do a little more research on responsibility in this affair. Slanted truth is falsity. Falsity, blame and hatred are evil traits. I’m sure the truth lies in the reponsibility not taken on the local level. Never have I witnessed such emotion and incompetance before, during and after Hurricane Katrina on the part of local, parish and state officials who let down the police, sheriff and transportation departments by their incompetence and inaction.

  • fred lapides

    The press: of course they have not yet got their hands “around the full story,” for the entir4e story has yet to emerge.
    The previous comment: why shill for the White House and denounce local authorities when in fact the country voted not for Kerry but for Bush because we were led to believe Bush, not Kerry, could handle an emergency…and we expected after 9/11 that Homeland Security would run the show for both terror attacks and Natural Disaster (see their op-ening paragraph to their new role)…and FEMA was run by a guy with no experience, fired from his previous position.

    In may well be that local and state folks messed up, but clearly our government is in charge of a huge disaster that strikes three states…Or do you believe the invisible hand of captalism will take care of all things?

  • http://marginalizingmorons.blogspot.com/ CaptiousNut

    Jeff,

    A decent post on the media, which seems to be your strong point. But the media remains self-obsessed, and not in a self-deprecating or ‘bettering thyself’ sort of way.

  • htom

    Air time given to blaming Bush et all and the flooding of New Orleans compared to the air time showing the devistation of the rest of Louisana, Mississippi, and Alabama … looks like the coverage of Iraq. I am not convinced that they’ve changed anything but the club being used to beat Republicans.

  • chuck

    Jeff,

    But there shouldn’t be anything terribly shocking or new in this rediscovery of journalism’s balls.

    Balls are fine. What I am looking for are the brains to go with them. Rambo, after all, is fiction. What are the nuts in bolts of the relief? Has anyone detailed the deployment? The depots, the supply lines, the callups, the trucking in of gasoline? This is what disaster relief is about and I would like to be informed.

  • owl 1

    htom–how are we right nutters suppose to know the difference?

    Jeff seems to think the media has seen the light. So what was all that other stuff the last 5 years? We had one solid month of Mother the victim, 6 months front page NYT Abu Ghraib poor victims, Gitmo victims, Iraq’s poor freedom fighters, for God sake we even had Wilson the victim, when to start off the whole parade we had those poor dumb Democratic voter victims. What do they all have in common, besides Bush?

    Professional journalists and victims. Shep was dancing in the street, after the hurricane, before he started his blame dance.

    No Jeff, what you are seeing is finally some real victims. Bet it shocked those reporters also. But one thing will not change, their target.

  • chuck

    To expand a bit on why I think it unlikely media will improve. The broad categories into which I tend to divide folks are not political, I don’t care if they are Democrat or Republican. The important thing to me is whether or not they can do practical things. I would be far more interested in how the people who got Geraldo to NO and put him on the air went about their job than in Geraldo himself. I would find their story more engrossing. It is the difference between doers and talkers and I don’t see the media as doers. As a result, their opinions don’t interest me much. I see the same broad pattern in the comments on this blog. People like myself who are interested in the practicalities of relief are highly critical of you. It is almost a moral judgement because we value practical knowledge so much. That is why I called you New Agey and meant it as an insult. Perhaps it is unjust, but you should also realize that there are a lot of Americans out there like myself.

  • http://connexxions.typepad.com/connexxions christien

    it’s good to see journalist pushing their limits. i just hope their not taking advantage of people. i’ve been a part of some of that already. i’ve been pleasantly surprised with a few. i haven’t seen nationla news in about 4 days though.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    Never have I witnessed such emotion and incompetance before, during and after Hurricane Katrina on the part of local, parish and state officials who let down the police, sheriff and transportation departments by their incompetence and inaction.

    Now either you have witnessed such emotion and incompetence before on the part of FEMA and the DHS, or you’ve gone a hell of a long way to imply that they did a bang-up job. I’d love to see the evidence for this, if you don’t mind sharing, because everything I’ve read, seen, and listened to up to this point suggests that the feds screwed up big time.

    I’m going to make this easy for you — I’m going to allow for the possibility that the locals and State authorities messed up just as bad as FEMA, so long as you’ll admit that your boys Brown and Chertoff just might be a teesny weensy widdly bit culpable as well in this whole fiasco. But I bet you won’t make that deal, will you?

    You’re so blinded by your loyalty to the Bush regime that you’re willing to play Russian roulette with the lives of every single American who depends on organizations like FEMA and the DHS in times of crisis. To hell with Bush. To hell with Ray Nagin and Governor Blanco. I want to know that when a disaster strikes, I’ll have the best possible people taking care of my and setting my region back on its feet again.

    Despite my political differences with the current administration, I always wanted to think that underneath all of the animosity and ideological contempt there was still a deep professionalism running through the Federal government’s essential agencies that would shine through when the chips were truly down. My mistake. Bush can go a hell of a long way to restore public trust in institutions such as FEMA by doing something unheard of during his five-year tenure and firing some people.

    It’s not about politics, friend. It’s about safety. Don’t let the GOP’s instinctive need to cover its ass at all costs allow people who don’t belong in trusted positions of authority to stay there and f**k up the next time as well. Let everyone who is culpable answer for their incompetence.

    Is that so hard?

  • SuperWoody

    Why is everyone so quick to blame Bush when someone else is at fault!?!?! Is it because this is an actual team “administration”? When the Clintonians were in office, anyone could disconnect themselves from the Clinton administration faster than Jesse Jackson can accuse every white cracker in America, Racists! I am frankly sick of every label loving liberal journalist that thinks showing people looting clothing/shoe stores during a crisis is “White America’s” fault! I have yet to see ANY of the poor white people’s faces plastered all over CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo … that lost everything and are still stranded in LA, MS, AL and arem’t at the AstroDome bitching about their free food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve

    Superwoody:

    1) People are quick to blame Bush because he has marketed himself as the war/crisis/fighting/take charge president. He was quick to grab credit for everything that went right with the 911 response, but doesn’t seem to be rushing to the spotlight now. If a coach is going to claim credit for his team’s victories, he better be ready to accept the blame for their losses.

    2) There are few if none ‘poor white peoples’ faces displayed in the media because there aren’t very many. Period.

    3) It’s not about black and white, buddy, it’s about rich and poor. The fact that most of the black people in New Orleans were poor, and were therefore ill equipped to even leave, should tell you something.

    4) What is it with you chowder heads that insist on using ‘liberal’ like it’s a swear word?

  • Steve

    Before we pat the liberal media on the back for exposing Bush’s supposed incompetence in this catastrophe, let’s look at one “small” example of the dishonest and incomplete tactics used by one of the most respectable biased reporters, Aaron Brown:

    ————-

    Aaron Brown aired the following clip of a statement by President Bush:

    GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In our judgment, we view this storm as a temporary disruption that is being addressed by the government and by the private sector. We have taken immediate steps to address the issue.

    BROWN: But, in truth, immediate has not come fast enough, and, fairly or not, explanations from Washington sound to many in New Orleans like excuses.

    In fact, Bush was referring to the energy issue. Here is his comment in context:

    And finally, we’re moving forward with a comprehensive recovery strategy. We’re working hard to restore electric power, repair transportation infrastructure, restart energy production, and of course, strategize as to how to provide housing for these folks. I met with Chairman Greenspan at lunch, as well as the economic team, to evaluate the impact of Hurricane Katrina. We particularly spent a lot of time talking about the damage done to our energy infrastructure and its effect on the availability and price of gasoline.

    In our judgment, we view this storm as a temporary disruption that is being addressed by the government and by the private sector. We’ve taken immediate steps to address the issue. The Secretary of Energy is approving loans of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The EPA has provided a temporary nationwide waiver for fuel requirements so supplies of gasoline can move more easily within our country and so that we can attract more gasoline from overseas.

    —————–

    It is easy to make anything look bad when you tell half the story and ignore the facts. The fact is that the President repeatedly begged Blanco (D) to allow the federal government to take over command and control of the disaster and she exercised her right to retain her lack of control. But the liberal press refuses to bash Blanco, it’s still Bush’s fault. What Bush did wrong was fail to violate federal law – the autonomy of the state. He should have told Blanco it was out of her hands and the feds taking control. Then he would have had to deal with the political fallout of violating federal process. But it would have saved lives.

  • Justin

    From the O-Reilly “Talking Points” linked above:

    “America’s failure to conserve energy is a disgrace. And the Bush administration has done little to encourage conservation.”

    “This country uses 25 percent of all the world’s oil as we hop around in gas-guzzling cars and generally waste energy all day long.”

    “So obviously the president didn’t answer Ms. Sawyer’s question.”

    Yup. Typical right-wing Bush lapdog-speak. (Eyes roll sarcastically and such.)

    Come on. Stop being so broad.

  • http://acrosstheatlantic.com shell

    To try and steer this back to the original topic:

    I can’t speak for the quality of coverage of the other media outlets, but as an American living in England, I can report on the BBC. They definitely have an anti-Bush bias, but that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the socialism bias that colors everything.

    I’m sure most Brits aren’t terribly familiar with our structure of government, and don’t understand how much power and responsibility the local and state governments have. However, I would expect the journalists, especially any who have spend a significant amount of time in the US, to understand this and try to explain this to their viewers. This has not happened. The governors have barely been mentioned at all. Ray Nagin only made it onto the news when he gave the famous “pardon my french” interview. As far as anyone over here knows, the federal government is it. They are fully responsible for the storm’s aftermatch, and also fully responsible for all of the relief work that has been done. No mention of the local and state governments, or of the many many volunteers. Everyone caught in the storm is a victim (or a looter, or a victim of looters), and everyone waited passively for the US government to show up and rescue them. Every bit of food and water and medical care was delivered by Uncle Sam. Every person plucked off a roof was rescued by Uncle Sam. No mention of all of the people who have opened their homes to strangers. No mention of all of the heroism shown by people who managed to rescue themselves and their neighbors without government help.

    Instead, we get reporters standing in New Orleans saying things like “America has been brought to its knees” (without mentioning how much of America stepped up to help) or “It’s too little and much, much too late” (when the evacuation was only half complete) or my favorite, the dire warnings that despite the first pump being in operation for a few hours, the reporter could not see any visible sign that the water was going down.

    I think I could forgive them leaving out the layers of government below the President. The news has been dumbed down so much that it seems natural to see them reduce a complex situation into the least common denominator such as government = George W.Bush. But leaving out the volunteers and true heros I can’t forgive.

    I hope the US networks are doing a better job. The BBC is appalling.

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  • Fred

    Yes mainstream hackery did do an excellent job – for three days. They had the technical means, satellite trucks with portable generators, to do it best. But their spin after the fact has been quite bad and the bloggers have caught up. I have yet to hear ABC News use the term “school bus.”

  • http://katrinacoverage.com Katrina Coverage

    Yeah, I sure enjoyed watching all the time they spent covering the foul-ups on the part of the locals, but I was really wishing for more fed-bashing and attempts to pin everything on Bush.

    I also enjoyed how the MSM brought us all together by dismissing odious attempts by black “leaders” to accuse whites of racism.

    And, I especially enjoyed all the time they spent covering the other areas that were ravaged by the storm. That coverage provided a glaring lesson that the “liberalism” and corruption practised in NO was part of the problem.

    The only thing that would have made their coverage better? If they’d picked up the HuffPost’s cannibalism charge and run with it.

  • owl 1

    Jersey….a question. Do you object to the facts of a situation or the appearance of the situation?

    Since you appear to be in a generous mood and allow a possibility that 200% of fault might not lie with Bush, I will say that I was not impressed with FEMA’s appearance. Do not have a clue about facts of performance yet. Browne certainly does not inspire confidence in me for speed. But I do need to know more facts on FEMA. I need to study their operating rules, length of time, what they are suppose to supply, etc………how much and when. And I could use the practical knowledge of the pecking order.

    This brings us back to topic. The media. Why do I not have clear answers about how much, when, how and where? Unless laws have changed, I have a fair knowledge of the pecking order of power, locally. School buses. Even school buses by the hundreds 70 miles up the road for sure. NO did not have a human crisis until after that levee broke.

    So I ask you, if all the officials in LA knew 100,000 might not have transportation………..and the seat of power of LA is 70 miles away, and they did not a)drive those people out or b)drive several hundred buses a couple of hours to drive those people out………what explains this? What explains all those thousands of state troopers/police not flooding NO? Hey, I have another whole list of questions on some issues that could and should have been addressed on a state level.

    I think Bush was 24 hours off the mark. I think they had moved on in their minds past crisis in NO. to position in other areas of disaster. Ya do know there were other areas? I think they did not show well. I think the media played into this. I also think the media actually did some good work on this one, but they also did their usual……..constant…….blame Bush dance. I am still waiting to see these vicious attack dogs snarl their questions at the locals. You know, the thing they do best with Bush & Co.

    So I am willing to play Russian roulette with every single American life that depends on FEMA, etc. Yep, I sure am. What exactly is the alternative? You want the false security of a Nanny state, go for it. It is an illusion. The poor victims of Katrina found that out. Here is a shocker for you. I not only think the Feds did a fair job, I think they did a superior job. I do not think another single country in the world could experience a natural disaster of this scope and could have produced this quickly. And that after I have already said I thought Bush was 24 hours off mark.

    Did FEMA deliver as fast as they should have? They looked slow but what do I know……..the governor 70 miles up the road couldn’t even move people out of the Super/convention center. I have yet to see a reporter get in her face and ask my questions. I think a little more locally when it comes to survival. Jersey, are you going to answer which country could have handled this better?

    Shell……our media has been terrible about explaining the usual order of government. I have yet to see pictures and front page articles of The Buses. Wonder if they can cover the Katrina Commission Hearings? Yeah, but the question is……can they find another Clarke to idolize?

  • Daniel

    What a puzzling post. Up front, numerous media luminaries are presented patting themselves on the back, and Jeff suggests that the media has discovered humility. Jeff’s point also misses the mark as far as his positive view of the media coverage of this event. Pissed off, indignant reporters are nothing new to this news junkie, nor should they be to anyone who watches White House press briefings. I’d like to be optimistic about the MSM, but the Katrina coverage has made that harder, not easier.

  • owl 1

    Jersey, finally got a few of the answers today. The head of the Red Cross confirmed the report that they were lined up and ready with the food and water needed. The State of Louisiana stopped them.

    Now why did it take the media this long to find this out? That answers my burning question…..What made the State of Louisiana so helpless when the capitol is only 70 miles away? I have yet to hear a reporter ask that .

  • SuperWoody

    Hey Steve, you said “2) There are few if none ‘poor white peoples’ faces displayed in the media because there aren’t very many. Period.

    That’s some serious BS!!!! I know for a fact there are very poor white people that live in outer areas of NO. You, like so many other libs, think if you have pail skin your have endless supplies of money falling out of your ass! One of the stations showed about a 2min clip of an area of MS or LA that the houses were not any nicer or better off than those flashed on our screens every other shot of NO. But because these people are labeled “white trash” their needs are secondary. I am sorry but if there is going to be white trash, then you have to agree there is going to be black trash too. The problem with our society today is we curse and make fun of the white trash but feel sorry for and blame any/everyone else for the black trash.

    Then you said “4) What is it with you chowder heads that insist on using ‘liberal’ like it’s a swear word?”

    Liberal should be a swear word in politics, it’s worse than a swear word to me. A ‘liberal’ politician to me means, ” lets label the $H!T out of everything untill NO-ONE is responsable for their on actions! Lets throw money at it until we run out, then blame some guy in a suit for going to college and working hard and getting a job to support his family.

    This disaster should have never had ANYTHING to do with race, but you can thank the ‘liberal’ mayor of NO, The Rev. Jeese Jackson, and others for this.

  • latenite

    Being a political junkie it is no surprise the D and R’s are going at each other. Thats what politics in America has alway been about. Trying to make the other guy look bad. Its a new problem in this age that they use other peoples grief to their political advantage.
    But I think there is a more devious answer to the bashing. I think they are going so gun-ho on this to divert everyone away from the fact the the Congress, along with Bush, took a very capable FEMA Department and folded into the very, very large Home Land Security Department. They lost their ability to react fast. Now I do not think this explains all of the problems with the Katrina fiasco but right now the D/R’s are just covering their butts. It’s happened before, 9/11 comes to mind. But thats a different story.
    I am sorry to see that race has come into this coverage but how else can the media explain how all of the people they are covering are black. Certainly not by saying that they happen to live and work in NO and therefore are victms of a disaster.

  • Joe Baby

    I don’t think one mistake absolves another. I think we need a commission to investigate all possibilities, but first we need to drain the city and bury the bodies. Not next week–that’s ridiculous.

    Problem with the blame game is that’s an obvious attempt by interested parties to shovel all the blame on someone else. Game of hot potato, basically.

    Quite frankly, I’m struck by the incompetence of just about everyone I’ve seen on television. They all make Rudy look like a stud.

  • owl 1

    Joe Baby, I almost agree with you. I will be the first in line to vote for Rudy.

    Congress should do closed door hearing. Nary a reporter in sight. Then fix whatever they find wrong. We already know why those reporters were allowed to show day after day of starving people. The legal power, the State of Louisana, stopped the food and water.

    Then someone should put out a government booklet, that lays down exact powers for what in every situation. All in one place so we can go look at pecking order of who is in charge, legally, when, of what. Because next time, Bush is going to invade Louisiana with all guns blazing. He will take that state house. Then when they say Bush the Dictator, I will say yep. Lessons learned from the difference between 16 acres in NY and 90,000 sq miles. I have noticed he may not admit mistakes but he does learn……example….UN.

  • FrankBul

    I would like to know how many rooms and other resources are being used up by the massive amount of press in the area. Resourses that could be better used helping the victims.

  • Barbara H

    Did anyone see Tony Zumbado? His was one voice that brought the scope of Katrina home. People in New Orleans begged for help on camera after five days of horror–no food, water or protection.

    Where the hell was the president? When he finally made his way to the disaster sites, he mumbled something to the effect that his sources had not fully explained the problems. Strange that President Bush would not have access to a television set–all he had to do was watch Tony Zumbado and it would have been crystal clear that something was not working.

    As an American, the reaction sickens me. What could we expect with a major terrorist attack? Bend over and kiss your butt goodbye. Folks, if you think your government protects you, dream on. The reporters on CNN and MSNBC did an outstanding job of informing the public. Too bad no one in power watches television any more.

    I strongly believe in the old Japanese ethic of ritual seppaku–when one fails, one dies by his own hand. May I please be the one to present the sword to Michael Brown.

  • Judith Pobjecky

    A horrible tragedy to say the least but the comments from the press have gone over the top. Unless you’ve lived through a hurricane you don’t know what you’re talking about. That includes response time for federal assistance, the Red Cross and all other outside assistance. I think all those who are blaming the federal government should take a look at the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisana……..They were the local government and should have had a plan in place. I live in hurricane country and have been through quite a few hurricanes. Some not so bad and a few really bad ones. The plan is always the same; state and local government get the word out on what to do and where to go. Federal assistance, the Red Cross and others come in as soon as they can, conditions allowing. It should have been obvious that outside assistance was going to have a heck of a time getting there. One or two news trucks are a little less complicated than bringing supplies, troops, tents and other needed equipment from the states around the Gulf Coast. By the way, what I’m hearing from people around the country is not criticism of the federal government but lots of criticism for the state and local officials.

  • Naveen

    Something I just don’t understand is why are people so caught up with whether the person-at-fault or person-deserving-praise is a republican or a democrat ? How about looking at facts, seeing things for what they are? Are people so blinded by their ideological bent that they would shield wrong-doers, who indirectly are responsible for the deaths of so many humans?

    As far as I can tell:
    - FEMA is “the federal government’s primary disaster response and recovery resource”
    - FEMA “responds only when the president issues a federal disaster declaration”, “moves quickly to position staff and determines what other federal agencies are required”
    - The president infact did make this declaration on Saturday, August 27. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827-1.html
    - Monday August 29 – Katrina makes landfall
    - The head of FEMA (Brown) started his response 5 hours after the hurricane makes landfall
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/katrina_disaster_response;_ylt=Ak_rIryMDAzLga9hk7jGKdms0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ-
    - Monday evening – levees break
    - FEMA urges first responders to not respond to hurricane impact area unless urged to by state/local authorities – whats up with that!? http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18470
    - Firefighters who came to the area to help, were made to go through training on sexual harassment and equal opportunity employment procedures! WTF!?
    http://www.nbc5.com/news/4946511/detail.html?rss=chi&psp=news
    - Every step of the way FEMA failed to act like it should
    - Brown is now revealed to be a through-and-through political appointee. The only reason he was appointed to a job, where he’s responsible for disaster response to a significant natural/terrorist disaster affecting american lives, was that he’s a friend of someone who matters? Whatever happened to letting competent people handle the job ? And he was confirmed by Senator Lieberman, with comments about how he has experience handling this sort of a job, when he was an intern assistant to the city manager?

    I’m not saying Brown or FEMA was solely responsible for everything that happened. The officials of the city of NewOrleans and the governor of LA share responsibility, as do the federal officials and President Bush. It however seems fairly evident that FEMA failed miserably on every count, and the primary reason seems to be the fact that the head of FEMA is a bozo. If you don’t see that, try and go through a thought exercise where, god forbid, there is a terrorist attack on your hometown, necessissating a response on a major scale. And imagine this guy heading up the response. If you’re honestly comfortable with that happening, well.. good luck!

    The other question that comes to my mind is, how many Browns ARE in this administration? If such an obvious crony was put in charge of the emergency management / disaster response, which is arguably among the most important tasks in the government, considering all the threats this country faces today, what is the character of hundreds of the other appointees?

  • owl 1

    Naveen, what part of this do you not understand?

    Both the Red Cross and Salvation Army have testified before camera that they were ready to feed and water those trapped. Immediately. Someone stopped them. The State of Louisiana turned them down over and over. The end. Bush gave her 24 hours before invasion.

  • Naveen

    owl1, Please refer to the letter sent from the state of LA to the Whitehouse.

    http://gov.louisiana.gov/Disaster%20Relief%20Request.pdf

    This was written on August 28, 2005. Katrina made landfall on August 29. So much for “invasion”.

    I said before and I say again – The local govt, the state govt are most certainly not blameless. They mismanaged the situation probably as much as the federal govt. Who mismanaged it how much – hopefully we’ll know when there is an independent investigation into this unavoidable disaster. (Note that I’m referring to the post-hurricane fallout, not the hurricane itself).

    The one agency most culpable in all this appears to be FEMA, IMHO anyway. And the reason for that appears to be Mr. Brown, who appears IMHO, to be a crony of Mr. Allbaugh. My question is – would you entrust Mr. Brown with disaster relief in your hometown, in case of a terrorist attack / natural disaster. It appears as though the President himself is saying “no” to that question, by pulling him from the operation today.

    If this person was so incompetent, why was he put in charge of this very critical agency? What were his qualifications? How many more Brownies are in this administration?

  • L

    Owl 1 is parroting Fox Spews’ disinformation about the Red Cross’ work in Louisiana. One look at the Red Cross web site is enough to set the record straight:

    http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html

    “The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.”

    “The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access. ”

    “The state Homeland Security Department had requested–and continues to request–that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.”

    “As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.”

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  • http://changesahead.net Olaf Egeberg

    How do we best help those who have lost everything—housing, jobs, whole neighborhoods? Their social fabric is gone. How can we be effective helpers and healers when there are so many dimensions to deal with?

    The book, “Changes Ahead” gives us, I believe, our best approach. It’s a
    no cost (download), small (160 page) and practical “getting-our-life-together” kit–a guide for, among other things, options for housing, a supportive neighborhood, economic security and a positive future.

    This isn’t a single-topic technical manual. It’s a personal book, intended for the body, mind and spirit–the entire person, right now.

    I believe that getting this free book out to more people means more help for us all through this difficult time, especially those who have lost everything. The book also helps individuals and whole neighborhoods take more responsibility for themselves, for what they need and want.

    This is a universal book, but its contribution, here-and-now, is to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans and other Katrina devastated cities and towns, rebuilding them to be the successful and attractive communities they’re capable of being.

    So, go to ( changesahead.net ) to see the book.

    Then, start reading on page 66 (that’s page 66) to see how “neighborhood activation” holds a key for us here.

    Then, think of others who might be interested in this link (changesahead.net).
    Use all or parts of the book, as you see fit.

    With best wishes

    Olaf Egeberg
    ( oegeberg@earthlink.net )

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  • Dave Hill

    It is so lame to take credit when things are going good, including taking credit for winning a war that has yet to be won. And then when things aren’t going well, to point fingers and shift blame to other people. Blaming local governments that have had their “First responder” budgets slashed by 70% is just feable and wrong. Local governments rely on the Federal government to fund all of the staff and resources to ENABLE their ability to properly respond to a disaster such as this. The reality is that local governments, though the complete lack of sufficient funding have been completely hobbled by the federal government. So, even if local governments could have done better, ultimately, the federal government created this situation by cutting funding and should take responsibility for this as well.

    I think what the hurricane shows us, is how vulnerable America really is. In spite of lip service being paid to how important “homeland” security is, fhe fact remains that we are completely unprepared and ill equiped for any major disaster, either natural or “man-made”.

    This also shows how sensitive we are as a country to anything that negatively impacts our oil supply. I don’t know about anyone else, I know that I would sure sleep better at night if we had real alternatives in the pipeline for fossil fuels – biofuels, hydrogen, whatever. A single event could cut our oil supplies by 20% to 50% driving the price of gas to over $8, which would plummet the country into a depression worse than 1929.