Correcting the facts and missing the truth

Three weeks ago, I linked to Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s outburst on Meet the Press about the mother of a colleague who died, abandoned, in a flooded nursing home. Two weeks later, I said it was my responsibility to link to a correction about details of that story. And now I’ll link to Tim Russert’s ambush (David Weinberger’s quite appropriate word) on Broussard and Brian Oberkirch’s wise and blunt perspective about all this.

This turned into a game of factual gotcha and in the process some lost sight of the real story and the real tragedy and that is by far the greater failure.

On this week’s Meet the Press, Russert replays Broussard’s emotional appearance for him and then goes after him on the facts. The woman who died was in a nursing home where the owners have been indicted for neglecting and not evacuating their residents. So, Russert says, that’s not the feds’ fault, huh? Russert gets up on a factual high-horse but Broussard puts him right back in his place, explaining that he learned what he said from his staff and that he certainly did not cross-examine his colleague about the mother he could not rescue, who had just died. That does not make the story of neglect of the entire city of New Orleans by government at all — all — levels any less vital. And Broussard says so:

Sir, that woman is the epitome of abandonment. She was left in that nursing home. She died in that nursing home. Tommy will tell you that he tried to rescue her and could not get her rescued….

Listen, sir, somebody wants to nitpick a man’s tragic loss of a mother because she was abandoned in a nursing home? Are you kidding? What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man’s mother’s death? They just buried Eva last week… It will be the saddest tale you ever heard, a man who was responsible for safekeeping of a half a million people, mother’s died in the next parish because she was abandoned there and he can’t get to her and he tried to get to her through EOC. He tried to get through the sheriff’s office. He tries every way he can to get there. Somebody wants to debate those things? My God, what sick-minded person wants to do that?

What kind of agenda is going on here? … Somebody better wake up. You want to come and live in this community and see the tragedy we’re living in? Are you sitting there having your coffee, you’re in a place where toilets flush and lights go on and everything’s a dream and you pick up your paper and you want to battle ideology and political chess games? Man, get out of my face. Whoever wants to do that, get out of my face.

Russert keeps riding his horse. He wants Broussard to somehow say that by getting facts of this story wrong, his criticism of the feds was thus invalidated, was not “fair” (and what a schoolyard word that is in this context). Broussard won’t bite.

Were we abandoned by the federal government? Absolutely we were. Were there more people that abandoned us? Make the list. The list can go on for miles. That’s for history to document. That’s what Congress does best, burn witches. Let Congress do their hearings. Let them find the witches. Let them burn them. The media burns witches better than anybody. Let the media go find the witches and burn them. But as I stood on the ground, sir, for day after day after day after day, nobody came here, sir. Nobody came. The federal government didn’t come. The Red Cross didn’t come. I’ll give you a list of people that didn’t come here, sir, and I was here….

Did inefficiencies, did bureaucracy commit murder here? Absolutely, it did. And Congress and the media will flush it out and find it out and those people will be held accountable. You’ve already given an example. These people in the nursing home in St. Bernard, they’re getting indicted. Good. They ought to be indicted. They ought to get good old-fashioned Western justice. They ought to be taken out and administered to like they did in the old West.

Yes, there’s a lot of people that they’re going to find that are going to be villains in this situation, but they’re also going to find for the most part that the Peter Principle was squared. The Peter Principle is you promote somebody to the level of incompetency, but when you promote somebody to the level of incompetency in a life or death department, then those people should be ousted. Those people should be strung up. Those people should be burned at the stake. And I’m sure Congress and the press is going to do that.

Mr. Russert: At the local, state and federal level.

Mr. Broussard: Sir, at every level. Are you kidding? This is a jigsaw puzzle. This is a mosaic. The blame will be shared by everybody….

David Weinberger sums up the journalistic sin of losing the forest for the trees, the story for the facts:

It was an attempt to discredit the story’s teller in order to deny the story’s meaning. It was contemptible.

Too much of journalism is turning this way today: If we nitpick the facts and follow some rules some committee wrote up, we’ll be safe; we’re doing our jobs. No, sir, our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.

Tim Russert lost sight of the story because he was embarrassed that bloggers caught a guest on his show with facts that were wrong. Russert’s proper response should have been to fix those facts quickly and clear but still pursue the real story. Instead, he chose to shoot the messenger who embarrassed him with the bloggers. He lost sight of his real mission.

Says Brian Oberkirch:

I was offended by how quickly the whole discussion went meta. Bodies yet to be retrieved & buried, folks hanging from their own rafters holding onto life, literally, by their fingertips — and pundits, bloggers and media types were already well on their way to converting the storm into a object lesson for their own rhetorical strategies. Hijacked our suffering for their own stories….

Here’s a new way to think about blogging and all forms of consumer generated media: forget fact checking [your] ass. That’s a parlor game for grad students and professional cynics. Yes, you caught some high-profile folks screwing up. Good on you. We’re frying bigger fish now, and you can’t play with us if you haven’t got the emotional heft. I’ve seen do-it-yourself media help us reconnect as human beings. Help one another as individuals in need. Answer a calling to the better parts of ourselves. That’s where I’m putting my energy.

You see, the reason jouranlists were getting praise for their coverage of Katrina and New Orleans was not because they got blown over by winds or soaked in sludge or spewed and fixed facts (many of which go unfixed). The reason people sat up and listened again was that they heard human beings stripped of their dispassionate institutionalism who tried to tell the real story again.

How soon we forget.

: UPDATES: Video and more at Crooks & Liars. Gandelman weighs in.

  • Simon

    “It was an attempt to discredit the story’s teller in order to deny the story’s meaning.” Isn’t that just a spin of the now-familiar “fake but accurate” argument?

    Come on. You can’t be serious, can you? Do you really want to set the precedent (or rather, to follow Rather’s precedent) of ignoring the facts because there’s some kind of “deeper meaning?” The woman’s death is a tragic story, but it was distorted to make a political point. That’s not acceptable.

    Give me a break. There are enough *true* stories from which we can draw lessons.

  • EverKarl

    Well, I guess I may have to take back prior posts about JJ getting it on this subject.

    “Ambushed?” As a regular viewer of MTP, I have to say that Russert did exactly what he does to many a guest — he plays back video or reads their statements when he thinks they haven’t been consistent or honest. Russert isn’t shooting the messenger — he’s correcting the record and holding a public official accountable so that MTP’s regular viewers who don’t spend a lot of time on the ‘net know that this guy misrepresented what happened.

    And I must respectfully disagree that this is nitpicking, or some parlor game. Creating the impression that the feds were entirely responsible for what happened in N.O. — as Broussard (and MTP, I would argue) did two weeks ago — is more than inaccurate; it’s downright dangerous to the extent that it ends up shaping public policy. Misdiagnosing a problem is generally a route to repeating it or worse.

    Now Broussard says he heard about it from staff. And we should believe that because…?

    At least Broussard now concedes that there is responsibility at every level of government, which was certainly not his tune two weeks ago. I would suggest that’s much closer to the “deeper meaning” of Katrina than the FEMA-is-solely-to blame hysteria Broussard and MTP were airing previously.

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    Frying bigger fish now? Broussard was using the [flawed] story of this poor woman’s death as an example of the failure of “The cavalry, on a federal level”, IOW, blaming the feds for abandoning her.

    The facts show that she died the day the hurricane hit, thus there was no “cavalry, on a federal level” on the way.

    The left side of the blogosphere thought this was a *huge* story until this came out. Now there’s “plenty of blame to go around,” they have “bigger fish to fry,” you “can’t play with us if you haven’t got the emotional heft,” and fact-checking is “a parlor game for grad students and professional cynics.”

    That should shut down a large portion of the blogosphere, including this site.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    “The reason people sat up and listened again was that they heard human beings stripped of their dispassionate institutionalism who tried to tell the real story again.”

    That’s the money line, kids. That’s why Jeff’s site is as popular as it is, whether you agree with him or not. Or at least it’s his best take on it – and I have to agree with him. Authenticity with passion is more than facts, and is independent of ideology. It’s what Reagan had, what Kennedy had, and what none of the other bozos have come close to, left or right. It’s what the best communicators strive for, and it’s harder work to reach than anyone believes.

    It’s compelling – even the attempt, when someone has the verbal tools, is compelling.

    But, as usual, most of you will miss the point. Please, for everyone’s sake – go back and read that line, internalize it. Figure it out for yourselves.

  • http://katrinacoverage.com Katrina Coverage

    In his first appearance, Aaron Broussard blasted FEMA. Now, see Aaron Broussard’s WalMart story discredited.

    Perhaps if he didn’t want people to question him he should have either verified the facts first or he shouldn’t have tried to blame people for something that they might not have been responsible for. How would you feel if he had named you personally as responsible for the drowning? Wouldn’t you want someone to call attention to the fact that you weren’t to blame?

    I also wonder about the staff telling him. Would they make the mistake of telling him something happened recently when it actually happened a week before?

  • http://jimtreacher.com Jim Treacher

    “Fake but accurate” redux.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    I had the benefit of hearing MTP on a radio rebroadcast instead of seeing it, and from just the sound it was clear that Broussard burst into tears a second time simply to dodge having to answer the hard questions on his fibbery.

    Didn’t have time to second guess or interrogate the guy? The guy is who’s saying that Broussard got the story all wrong! And Broussard’s original account is too lengthy and lop-sided to be a simple misunderstanding (the whole “cavalry is coming” business). Not to mention that his errors too conveniently shifted accountability and responsibility away from himself and other local pols.

    (Fox, what are you doing with those eggs from my chicken coop? Oh, they’re nothing to do with me — my assistants put them in my bag!)

    Emotionalism isn’t an argument, and cussing loudly on TV isn’t an argument. The truth is the argument. I don’t fault Broussard for crying if he was showing true emotion; but I do fault Broussard for trying to use his tears to manipulate the interviewer.

    And I did hear what seemed to me to be clear attempts to manipulate — primarily the attempt to silence Russert by making him look like a big meanie for even asking, followed by an attempt to demonize those who dared question the whopping big inconsistencies in his original fable. This manipulation in the midst of tears makes the tears seem more crocodilic than honest.

  • http://ruthcalvo Ruth

    Thanks, Jeff, it’s not easy to revisit and keep trying. This is a story that illustrates a lot about the tragedy of lives lost when the system, set up under the premise that a necessary role of government is to save them, instead fails. Sadly, a lot of posts seem to be caught up in making the story one of facts 1, 2 then 3, as if that makes it all right that people died. I’m not pretending I know all the facts, but I do know that we were told all the planning was being done to make us safe from disaster, and that was not true.

  • Ravo

    The Federal Government was ready,willing and able, ….but the system was PREVENTED from working by the shirking of responsibility at the local and state levels.

    Bush would have had to know those in charge of NO and LA were inept boobs BEFORE the storm to change the outcome or the consitution would have had to be changed to allow immediate maritial law, something our forefathers were careful to protect states against.

    They were more worried about to much federal control over states, and never anticipated how dumbed down and/or corrupt some local and state governments could become in the future. In that era of independence, certainly too, they never anticipated whole cities of dependent citizens.

    The politicians and their supporters, that prevented immediate federal help have sought thru the most despicable means, thru manipulation and lies and charges of racism, to transfer their own blame to the federal level.

    As if that chicanery is not horrible enough, now those bringing the truth to the surface, as Carson Fire puts it, are being made to look like “meanies”.

    There is no level the left won’t sink to, they just go lower and lower,
    as they continue to sink their party into oblivion.

    The only one not throwing manure, is the one having the most heaped upon him.

    President Bush’s grace under so many vicious and undeserved attacks has been nothing short of amazing.

  • Jane

    The reason people sat up and listened again was that they heard human beings stripped of their dispassionate institutionalism who tried to tell the real story again.

    No, no, no. We needed more of the dispassionate institutionalism. What we got was sheer hysteria. Please take the time to read and comment on this Time-Picayune article: Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated

    What was reported at the Dome and Convention Center is now in our collective memory. The facts as they become known will never be accepted. This article of clarification will not get prominent coverage.

    As for Broussard, the man is a bullshit artist. Russert dropped the ball in the initial interview. He should have calmed Broussard down and given him a bit of dispassionate institutionalism: when did the flood waters stop rising, was phone service available 5 days after the levees broke, who was responbile for evacuating nursing homes, who was responsible for making sure the evacuation had taken place? But no, we let emotionalism drive the story.

    I truly think the media did a tremendous disservice in covering Hurricane Katrina. (Again, please read the Times-Picayune article. I’d love to see a follow up article with the journalist who reported entering the freezer room with the Arkansas National Guardsman – that article lead me to believe the journalist was present on the scene – was he?)

  • kat

    The only truth missing here is that some drama queen is trying to score political points by fabricating a story that tears at your heartstrings.
    Of course, the woman’s death is a tragedy, but iif her son cared so much, he should have evacuated her before the storm, as many families did with their loved ones, instead of waiting till she was dead after the first nite of the hurricane.
    (Tommy will tell you that he tried to rescue her and could not get her rescued….) The only thing that could have saved her was evacuation prior to the storm. Was Tommy working 24-7?? How gullible do you leftists want the masses to be?? You are using a woman’s death to further your sick agenda of Bush blaming.

  • Doug Gregory

    Detail here, detail there. The point is, this Broussard went weepy and screwed up his facts. Russert WAS right to nail him. If you are going to go on national TV and blubber like a pussy that some colleagues mother was intentionally abandoned by the “Feds”, you’d better damn well have your facts straight.

  • weboy

    Jeff, Thanks for this post – I’ve had mixed expectations of your blog (partly because as a mass media junkie, I know I share a lot of your worldview), but this is the kind of post that’s so necessary – connecting the dots and reexamining the way we tell the story.

    As your comments section seems to illustrate, though, this story has become unmoored from any sense of what it was or what it meant. At the time he told it, I was simply caught off guard by the raw emotion on display. Broussard struck a nerve not because his “charges” were so incendiary, but because his grief was so raw. There were people who needed to be saved and they weren’t. Figuring out why they weren’t and who’s responsible, it seemed to me then, and now, seems a task for another day.

    Those who would simply blame state and local officials and exonerate the Feds, it seems to me, are diehards who refuse to accept that criticism is not meant necessarily to injure someone, but to make things better. Katrina was as much of a disaster as it was because of poor coordination of efforts at all levels. Even the Bush Administration, late and middling though they may be, has accepted this. The head of FEMA is being replaced. The role of FEMA is being reexamined. These seems like appropriate and necessary steps, and should be encouraged.

    Ultimately, blaming beaurocracy and paperwork won’t excuse the loss of life in Katrina. Some of these deaths were preventable. And refusing to look at every level and every organization’s failures is simply a recipe for future missteps. But as usual, rather then focus on constructive ways to move forward, we’d rather get bogged down pointing fingers and laying blame to see who can win political points. That, ultimately, is what bothers me about Russert – he seems to treat every subject as part of the political game and sees himself as scorekeeper, scrupulous and fair. And that misses the point – maybe it’s not a game.

    Thanks again, Jeff

  • kat

    As Jefferson Parish President, was Mr. Broussard not himself responsible for evacuating the nursing home?? Or should the Feds have done that??

  • Ravo

    “criticism is not meant necessarily to injure someone”

    Oh, it was. It was. The ridiculous racism charges at Pres. Bush alone – not meant to injure him?

    And most of those who died, did so in the period where the buses and Amtrack were unused before the storm, and when the Feds had to stand by helplessly, as the Governor PREVENTED Fema rescuers from being protected by soldiers, thus preventing them from working in critical hours.

    Fix THAT! If that all was working, most of the people would be alive that died.

    Try your criticism on this this FEMA worker :http://chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=16863

  • Ravo

    that should read: And most of those who died, did so BECAUSE the buses and Amtrack weren’t used before the storm,

    and the link

    http://chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=16863

    Please bring back preview.

  • John

    Jeff

    Remember, you have to take Broussard’s entire first interview and put in in context, not just the section where he broke down. Before that occurred on MTP three weeks ago, Russert asked Broussard whether or not state officials had any role in the poor response to Katrina, and the Jefferson Parish president completely exonerated Gov. Kathlette Blanco or anyone else from having done anything wrong in the crisis. Anything. Then he started telling the story about the co-worker’s mother who drowned in the nursing home.

    As I said before, Broussard is not a straight party-line Democrat; he endorsed Bobby Jindal for congress last year, after Jindal lost the governor’s race to Blanco in 2003. And Jindal balked at blaming state officials for the disaster as well about a day or soo after Broussard’s breakdown, telling Fox News he thought it was FEMA’s fault. So this was really a bi-partisan case of local politicians playing cover-your-ass and trying to shift the blame onto FEMA and other federal people in order to avoid the future wrath of local voters.

    That still doesn’t mean Michael Brown, George W. Bush or others at the federal level don’t deserve their share of the blame for the failure to respond quickly and eliminate needless paperwork in the aftermath of Katrina. But in light of what MSNBC and other later reported and in light of Broussard’s own CYA act in his return appearance with Russert, don’t be fooling into thinking this guy was some media virgin who was speaking a higher truth and just got caught up in the moment — he knew exactly what he was doing, and staged hiis breakdown to steer Russert away from any further questioning about the local officials’ shoddy response to the hurricane.

  • Bob

    “…You see, the reason jouranlists were getting praise for their coverage of Katrina and New Orleans …”

    Who’s giving them praise? Most everything I saw/heard from “Journalists” was so anti-Bush slanted that it was difficult to even attempt to ferret out any facts that might have been in the reports.

    “No, sir, our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.”

    Wrong!! The facts are all that I want. Can no one get that through their thick skull? I’ll figure out the truth from the facts. That’s the problem with today’s media – They make up ‘facts’, and they intentionally ommit facts so they they can tell me the “Truth” as they see it according to their political agenda, whatever that happens to be. The only thing I want are the facts, and since I can’t get it from the TSM (Terrorist Supporting Media), I look elsewhere for them, as I’ve been doing for the last 3 or 4 years. As my grandpappy used to say “I’d rather be un-informed than mis-informed”, and I’ve learned the hard way that listening to the media in this country will guarantee that I’ll be intentionally mis-informed.

  • Ravo

    “I’ve learned the hard way that listening to the media in this country will guarantee that I’ll be intentionally mis-informed. “

    Integrity is gone and with it went trust.

    The leftists and their media in this country is on the final leg of the journey into IRRELEVANCE.

  • APF

    Are you really trying to suggest that passion and emotion are more important in a news broadcast than true and accurate reporting? Isn’t that the exact opposite of what most blogospheric media commentors–yourself included, I believe–have been asserting for years? What is the difference between that sort of media and raw activism? I submit there is none, and to embrace that sort of sentiment would be disasterous.

  • http://www.cadenhead.org/workbench/ Rogers Cadenhead

    The only thing that could have saved her was evacuation prior to the storm. Was Tommy working 24-7?

    Thomas Rodrigue is the director of emergency services for Jefferson Parish. Do you really think he would have been able to take time off in the 48 hours before the storm to take his 92-year-old mother out of town?

  • Ravo

    Do you really think he would have been able to take time off in the 48 hours before the storm to take his 92-year-old mother out of town?

    Do you really think he could not have sent someone in his place to take her out of town?

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

    The only thing I want are the facts, and since I can’t get it from the TSM (Terrorist Supporting Media), I look elsewhere for them, as I’ve been doing for the last 3 or 4 years. As my grandpappy used to say “I’d rather be un-informed than mis-informed”, and I’ve learned the hard way that listening to the media in this country will guarantee that I’ll be intentionally mis-informed.

    Oh, poor you. All of those channels to choose from. What’s a true patriot to do when even his official news mouthpiece (Fox) starts questioning the official “facts”? Or has Sean Hannity now joined the ranks of the TSM in your uninformed estimation…

    Welcome to the future, bub — no one is ever going to give you just the facts (and anyone who purports to do so is even more dangerous than the ones who don’t). It’s your job as a critically-thinking inhabitant of 21st century America to learn how to separate the message from the medium.

    But by all means go ahead and choose ignorance, if it’s all too much for you. Just don’t expect to be taken seriously by anyone but yourself.

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

    But in light of what MSNBC and other later reported and in light of Broussard’s own CYA act in his return appearance with Russert, don’t be fooling into thinking this guy was some media virgin who was speaking a higher truth and just got caught up in the moment — he knew exactly what he was doing, and staged hiis breakdown to steer Russert away from any further questioning about the local officials’ shoddy response to the hurricane.

    Curse those Dems for scoring cheap political points in the midst of a national tragedy! Because the Bush Administration would never engage in such disreputable behavior as — oh, I don’t know — attempting to shift the blame entirely onto the shoulders of local and State officials when their own incompetence began to become manifest to even the likes of Anderson Cooper and Geraldo Rivera.

    Oh, wait…

    Folks, it’s a push. Feds f***ed up and tried to blame the locals; locals f***ed up and tried to blame the Feds. Because that’s what politicians do — they pass the buck unless it becomes absolutely politically impossible to do so. If you somehow think “your” party is somehow immune to this basic axiom of human behavior then I have an exciting real estate investment opportunity for you in the Lower 9th Ward (bring your own boat).

  • David

    Let’s all remember Russert is a RNC hack…his producers were caught by BBC camera’s begging the RNC to feed them their opposition research during the 2000 election.

    How come Timmy doesn’t focus on the following story:

    The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

    “I think 99 percent of it is [expletive],” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. “Don’t get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn’t see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything … 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved.”

    Courtesy of Atrios

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002520986_katmyth26.html

    Come to think of it how come Timmy never got mad when the administration lied to him over Iraq, 9/11, Energy Policy, etc. etc. etc.

  • penny

    Do you really think he would have been able to take time off in the 48 hours before the storm to take his 92-year-old mother out of town?

    Bottomline: Rodrigue is alive and mom’s dead. Where did the rest of his family find shelter? And I would think that in his position as director of emergency services he had a direct responsibility to that nursing home and its evacuation. Hardly the Feds problem.

    In the order of assistance and responsibility to ourselves and others I would put family first, friends and neighbors next, state level next and Federal assistance last.

    What made Broussard’s behavior smarmy and disingenuous was his misplaced and ludicrous accusation that the Feds were the responsible party for Rodrigue mother’s death. In all of the choices of things he could have blathered on TV that was the message he chose.

    Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.

    Sorry Jeff, but you are sounding like shades of Dan Rather. In the sorry a$$ed state of MSM today the “truth” is too often crafted with no facts.

    I’ll go with the facts anyday rather than some lamely crafted story.

  • John

    Jersey, don’t exerpt my post if you’re too lazy to quote all of it:

    As I said before, Broussard is not a straight party-line Democrat; he endorsed Bobby Jindal for congress last year, after Jindal lost the governor’s race to Blanco in 2003. And Jindal balked at blaming state officials for the disaster as well about a day or soo after Broussard’s breakdown, telling Fox News he thought it was FEMA’s fault. So this was really a bi-partisan case of local politicians playing cover-your-ass and trying to shift the blame onto FEMA and other federal people in order to avoid the future wrath of local voters.

    The point, if you can’t figure it out for yourself, is that this appears to be more of a case of a bunch of elected officials in the New Orleans area circling the wagons and protecting their own, more than a deliberate partisan attack on the Bush Administration. Broussard’s concern during the original MTP interview was to redirect criticism of local voters away from him and onto faceless FEMA people, who were to be the hobgoblins of the story. Jindal, who received Broussard’s backing last November, then scratched his back on Fox a couple of days later by also taking the “us locals ain’t to blame” line during his on-camera interview.

    If a Democrat was in the White House right now, the talking points for Broussard and the others wouldn’t have changed a whit. It would have been done to shirk their own responsabilities for failure to prepare for the storm, and only the perception of their comments from people outside of the disaster area would have been altered.

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    There were people who needed to be saved and they weren’t. Figuring out why they weren’t and who’s responsible, it seemed to me then, and now, seems a task for another day.

    Sorry, but the topic here is this death (Eva Rodrigue). Once again, she was killed the day Katrina struck, so Broussard pointing the finger at the feds is deceptive.

    Do you really think it’s a “task for another day” to set the record straight when the facts are right in front of you?

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  • penny

    How come Timmy doesn’t focus on the following story

    It’s kind of obvious isn’t it, Russert was doing a follow-up story on Broussard. There are, after all, just so many stories that can be selected for a program. Russert couldn’t have possibly known your story preferences.

    And could you expand your thinking on just how the administration lied to him regarding 9/11 and the “Energy Policy”? Keeping in mind that the theme of this thread is “facts” versus the “truth” I’m sure you can deliver.

  • Ravo

    lie when the passion is high; it’s what will stick in the minds of the masses.

    wait a while

    no one will take much note when the correction finally comes.

  • http://www.onehandedeconomist.com Timothy

    Is this going to be another case of “fake-but-accurate”?

  • http://marycalvo marym

    If the exact date of a death is the really important thing to know, then we can all just skip comforting the bereaved, as long as we get the date right?

    Jeff, thanks for following up. I guess you already knew that you have a few posts that will follow up your followup by putting the kind of spin on it they really have to have, or else they might feel embarrassed.

    Watching Governor Perry sacrifice his perfect hairstyling by wearing a cap and what looked like a Fish and Wildlife Service shirt-of-many-pockets was worth a lot, but heck, at least he admitted that it was a mistake to put a whole city on the road and he’d go back and review that part of the plan. Guess no one’s blaming him … oh, that’s right, he’s not THAT party.

  • Ravo

    a few more falsehoods…

    Did federal cuts have anything to do with the levees failing? Nope.

    Did firemen fly across the country only to be used as props by Bush? Nope.

    Did FEMA wait four days to do anything about people at the Convention Center, despite cable news broadcasting their presence for days? Nope.

    And just today, the Seattle Times has this story out about the reports of mass murders, rapes, etc., in the Superdome and Convention Center. In a word, those reports were bullshit

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=5698

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Oh, and maybe the Superdome wasn’t the dome of death, as was so widely reported:

    http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_26.html#082732

  • Rob

    What appalls me about this whole thing is that the debate is about how best to blame someone. How stupid is that? Does anyone, on either side of this stupid debate really think that the people involved here at the federal, state or local level WANTED people to die? Do you really think that the President, the Governor or the Mayor thought, “Let’s see what we can screw up today so that the greatest number of people die.”

    People make mistakes and the approach here should be like an investigation after a plane crash. Often, investigators find that the mistakes people made in the heat of the moment were avoidable by different training, a redesign of control systems, changes in who is responsible for what, and so on. When a pilot makes a mistake, you work to figure out how to prevent that mistake in the future, you don’t go picket the poor guy’s house!

    If someone involved here really did intentionally make bad decisions (and I think that’s a pretty long shot), then they should be held responsible. It’s far more likely, however, that this was attributable to the usual problem: people, especially in the stress of the moment, often make bad decisions. It’s up to engineers and planners to make systems that are fault tolerant and hard to screw up. In order to do that, they have to study closely the way the bad decisions were made.

    We may find, for example, that it’s best to plan in advance for the local first responders to be unable to respond (for whatever reason) and use pre-positioned military assets as fall-back first responders. It may turn out that we can temporarily pre-deploy hardened communications systems (satellite phones, etc) when hurricanes approach. Perhaps cities should all have a very secure and hardened AM radio station capable of reaching all of the people – including first responders – of the city, even during the disaster event. There are lots and lots of possible lessons and fixes here.

    Spending a lot of energy to place blame is stupid and will only GET IN THE WAY of finding solutions. Now that it’s all about the blame, do you think that people in, say, the governors office, are going to be truthful and forthcoming about the way they handled events and made decisions during the crisis? Are FEMA bureaucrats going to step forward and say, “We weren’t able to deliver water to X because we weren’t expecting Y?” Is Mayor Nagin going to come forward and say, “I shouldn’t have told people to go to the convention center, since we hadn’t discussed that with FEMA?” No, now that it’s all about blame, everyone is going to run for cover and the best lessons will be ignored.

    This storm is a microcosm of what’s wrong with this whole country: governance is being treated as a game where you keep score with pork and prestige, instead of a serious business where you actaully try to make the system work for the people.

    As long as people care more about who gets the blame than about how the system gets fixed it’s not going to get any better.

    We don’t need smarter media or smarter politicians half as much as we need a smarter populace.

  • Ravo

    The Democrats START the misappropriation of blame, coming out with a boatload of falsehoods against “that party”. The truth FINALLY emerges, clearing “that party” of the slanderous charges, and you Marym act as if the REFUTATIONS of the bogus charges correctly placing responsibilites are now only being made public because the real culprits are not of “that party”.

    There simply is no end to the twisting.

  • whydouwantmyname

    in other words Jeff, fake but accurate eh?

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    task for another day

    Good God almighty, this is breathtaking from Jeff Jarvis’ post right down to the comments supporting it.

    For those now saying that this is a “task for another day”, it was not a task for another day *in the midst of the emergency* when every exaggeration and lie served the greater purpose of slamming the federal workers and Bush in particular. During the actual emergency *we* were the ones saying that it was too early to assign blame.

    Now that facts are coming out instead of misinformed hyperbole — when it clearly *is* time to take a hard look at what did and didn’t happen — the revelation of facts is disturbing and troubling to the left because it outs them on two things a little too starkly: 1) a basic dishonesty by the left in trying to manipulate even the worst disaster to their advantage (and here, I don’t mean Broussard — I mean the politically charged left that seizes and amplifies stories with no regard for facts or truth); 2) a willingness even by some moderate elements to blythely accept these manipulations as fact and not fiction.

    These basic dishonesties in no way serve the “greater truth”, unless by “greater truth” we really mean “political ideology”. I keep rereading JJ’s post, because this is one thing he rarely does, but I just can’t see anything else in his argument: the facts don’t support what he wanted to believe; what he believes must be protected even against facts, and so facts become irrelevant… facts as “anti-truth”… and as many commenters have posted already, not a whit of diff between that and the Rathergate “fake but accurate” argument.

    I may be missing something, btw, but is anyone calling for Broussard to be punished the way the left was shouting for heads to roll? Clearly it’s up to local citizens to reward and punish their pols as they see fit, even incompetents like Nagin. This is another stark diff: the left’s extreme spin goes hand in hand with calls to impeach/indict/punish/execute everyone that they already hated. The right has been forced by circumstances to be intensely concerned with the truth regarding these events — the real truth, and not pretend truth.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    Oh, and it should be remembered the left’s loud squalls over these falsehoods finally prompted the head of FEMA to step down. The falsehoods literally interfered with the emergency efforts at the height of the emergency.

    Please, JJ… stop trying to defend the indefensible. I can see you morphing into Dan Rather by the second.

  • EB

    Hey, the Seattle Times is a shorter re-print of the New Orleans Times Picayune (and longer) version of the story on the exaggerations of violence at both the Super Dome and Convention Center. The reporter’s names are the same: Brian Thevenot and Gordon Russell.

    So read the Times Picayune version, it’s longer. (links above)

    ALSO: the comments here mentioning that another thing at play in the Tim Russert story (interviewing Broussard) is the “Fake but True” meme (a la Dan Rather and his fake memo) strikes a chord with me…. in that Broussard is trying to whip everyone into a frenzy USING A FAKE STORY but it is pointing to a real lapse in our system. that is called “poetic license” and you can NOT do that in real journalism.

    As far as I am concerned the LOCAL gov’t really failed their citizens in New Orleans and surrounding parishes (counties)… they made hardly any effort at all to provide a way out for their less able citizens, and to the folks who COULD get out on their own, they barely gave 24 hrs notice to them!

    Compound all that with a criminally negligent nursing home operator, a lack of inter-communication between first responders, a weak head of FEMA and false reports (turning out to be rumors) of horrific violence which may have caused a delay in real aid being sent in (waiting for armed reinforcements to arrive first) … then you can see that real suffering did occur during this natural disaster……the factual story does not have to be “gilded” by resorting to a false emotional tale told by an overwrought politician. There is enough real suffering here without resorting to hyperbole.

  • Mary Ann

    While I think we are slipping into “fake but accurate” territory, I think some journalists were truly outraged without the partisan BS. I take Jeff’s point that there is a larger problem here. Those in government didnt’ govern. They did nothing but the political CYA and finger pointing. I mean really. Look how soon the fingerpointing started. From “get off your asses” to “I’ll punch anyone including the president” to “Brownie you’re doing a heck of a job” nobody acted; they just complimented their own and/or pointed fingers at others. They all postured. They had a monumental crisis and they just postured. At every level. And the media and the blogosphere did too. Who cares if one of the contractors is the client of a former Bush I appointee and is headed up by the head of the state Democratic party? At least they were taking action! Thank God for them and the military. Everyone else was “stuck on stupid.”

  • David

    It really is amazing that the Republicansheep will get all upset about a few inaccuracies over this story but choose to look the other way at all the lies told by this administration that have led to over 1900 soldiers getting blown to pieces and thousands others maimed for life along with thousands of Iraqis being “liberated” from the earth.

    >Everyone else was “stuck on stupid.”

    Shrub always has been and always will be…the republicansheep fawning all over him won’t change that fact.

  • jeff m

    You say this “That does not make the story of neglect of the entire city of New Orleans by government at all — all — levels any less vital.”

    And this “No, sir, our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.”

    In my opinion, the lesson to be learned is that people, in the first place, must rely on themselves.

    Instead of saying: “gee, my mom can’t walk and she lives below sea level, in a hurricane zone, in a city that has been destroyed by hurricanes and floods before. She is cared for by strangers being paid $9 per hour who have their own families and lives to worry about. There is a big hurricane coming. People are recommending that we evacuate. I wonder if I should go get her? No, the caregiver, the nursing home owner, the city, the state, the feds will all care about her more than me. I don’t have to do anything.”

    Blaming the biggest known power for not saving her from a disaster is akin to blaming an omnipotent God for not saving her. It is easier to blame supposed omnipotence than to look inwardly and admit “I could’ve but chose not to.”

    AND YOU ARE DOING THE SAME.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    ACtually, what has me really annoyed are the journalists. They are supposed to tell us what’s happening. They didn’t. They got emotional, outraged, teary, worked up, personal, and then reported rumors and falsehoods. Their reporting led people to make decisions, to take action or not. Yes, believe it or not, journalists can make a difference and this time they made the difference by making things seem worse than they actually were, and probably causing someone to take action that was unneccessary and maybe even harmful.

    Forget government. When do we the mea culpas from the reporters who told us about the piles of bodies in the Superdome?

  • jeff m

    I think an interesting comparison could be made between the number of deaths of nursing home patients associated with, on the one hand, non-evacuations from New Orleans and, on the other hand, evacuations from Houston. People died as a result of both.

    The lesson here is that vulnerable people are…well…vulnerable.

    You can look all you want, but I think you’ll find that Sunrise Assisted Living, the company involved in the Houston situation, has a stellar reputation.

  • Cog

    Broussard may have been emotional, he may have been fed incorrect facts by his staff, but he used the tragedy as an indictment of Bush and the federal governments emergency response. Given the states evacuation plans, the lack of prepositioned supplies at the shelters, and the denial by state troops of aid workers with red cross supplies, Broussards emotional plea was outrageously off the mark.

    There were massive problems at the local, state and federal level. Unfortunately, only one of those areas were focused on exclusively during the first few days of Katrina’s aftermath.

    Instead of finding ways to help the victims, covering the problems that arose, and putting the damage in context, the MSM and many politicans went directly to the “why this is Bush’s fault” card. A card played too soon and too often after any setback facing this country.

  • Jane

    My question for the Times-Picayune:

    Bodies found piled in freezer at Convention Center article by Brian Thevenot
    Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.
    Did Brian Thevenot view the bodies in the freezer? Did this interview even take place? What fact checking was done before this article ran?

  • Li

    I usually agree with you, Jeff, but this time I think you’re off the mark.

    While the re-interview by Russert perhaps could have been better, I give him a lot of credit for the attempt to correct the factual errors of the original Broussard interview in the same format and venue and with the same viewers as saw the original interview.

    It impressed me because it happens so rarely.

    I admit to being a news junkie. One of the things that drives me nuts
    and is worthy of criticism in the news cycle is the all too frequent headline or story found to be in error but that is corrected days later only in a buried page seven multiparagraph column of corrections. Or, the TV story that never gets corrected at all. As several earlier commenters pointed out, it is ALWAYS the original version-factual or not- that sticks in people’s minds. It is these original versions that will also usually remain on the record as contemporaneous “fact” and quoted in the future by historians.

    Now, the behind the scenes story that I still really want to know is how Broussard was initially brought to NBC’s attention as a potential interviewee in the first place, what due dilligence had been performed,
    who prepped Aaron for the live interview and what Russert “thought” Broussard was going to talk about.

  • amyc

    I have to agree with john and mary ann, that the important story is the amount of Louisiana rump-covering, not which party the coverers belong to. The monstrosity offered up by the LA senators (one D, one R) needs to get booted out of the capitol building, preferably with both senators along for the ride. My preference would be to have zero reconstruction funds go to or through anybody with any LA ties at all. The loss in getting familiar with the area would seemingly be more than offset by the lack of loss in corruption.

    I also fear that many, if not most, local governments couldn’t pass the NO test. If any good comes out of this mess, it would be that people will suddenly start to pay attention to the people running for local offices. No more party-line voting, but votes given to people after serious scrutiny of their qualifications and abilities.

  • http://booksinq.blogspot.com/ Frank Wilson

    “…our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.”
    Au contraire, Jeff. Accurate, precise factual data is not so easy to come by. And if you give me that, I’ll know how you feel about it. If you want lessons, go back to school. As for truth, as Thomas Aquinas said, it is “the conformity of the mind to reality.”

  • http://marycalvo marym

    ‘There simply is no end to the twisting.’

    Well, that part is right. The statement preceding it is about as laughable as Carsonfire’s claim that criticism of Brown interfered with efforts to combat the emergency. Great illustrations of putting all the interest into blame for something, anything; too bad there’s so much squirming out of the gaping cavity that was NO.

    Thanks Rob, for “What appalls me about this whole thing is that the debate is about how best to blame someone. How stupid is that? ”

    Is there any reason besides unpronounce-ability that no mention has yet been made of N’OrleansGate??

  • huh

    David,
    No matter how many times you use the term shrub and replublican sheep, people still won’t think you are witty.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Bullshit, Jarvis.

  • Chancy

    Jeff
    You are right on target about Russert and his gotcha moment with Boussard. Aaron Boussard was there in the midst of the horror of Katrina while GWB was flying all over the West speaking to handpicked groups when he should have shown leadership initally by being in the WhiteHouse as a hands on CEO when people were dying in New Orleans.

    And Bush himself is backpedaling as fast as he can, touring
    the scenes now for the 6th time for more photo ops which do NOT repair his tarnished image.

    Your GOP contingent that has recently materialized here on BuzzMachine seems to have their talking points all laid out to counter any whiff of a suggestion that GWB behaved less than god-like during the initial non response to Katrina.

    It won’t play in Peoria folks. Rant and rave on and on.

  • deb

    Jeff,

    I’m disappointed in you, I thought you were better than this….

    You honestly think that we should receive ‘spin’ instead of just the facts???? I’m really not interested in people’s thoughts on the situation, I just want the facts, without all of the partisan bullshit…. do you know why???? Because I have a brain that is perfectly capable of coming to my own conclusions based on the facts….

    I guess the best lesson learned from NO officials would be “If you are going to start screaming and fingerpointing you better make sure that you have enough air freshener to make sure your own ‘excretement’ isn’t stinking to high heaven!!!!”

  • http://CBSNews.com Dick Meyer

    Jeff et al: I posted this on CBSNews.com’s Public Eye too (http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2005/09/26/publiceye/entry886262.shtml)

    Sorry if it’s off point or too long:

    I think I’m on the scent of one of the differences of worldview that makes it seem, sometimes, as if bloggers are from Mars and old-fashioned, legacy MSM-type reporters are from Venus.

    Except that too often, as we’ll see, the traditional journalists are from Mars too. I can make my point only by quoting Jeff Jarvis.

    In a posting today, Jarvis says, “Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity.”

    This made my blood boil. Read the whole post to get the context for yourself. I doubt that Jarvis wanted these two sentences to get the deconstruction they are about to get; I think he was trying to make a narrow and legit point that sometimes nit-picking the details of story are a means of avoiding the deeper meaning and moral dimension of the story. But…

    Facts are not a commodity.

    Anybody cannot get the facts.

    True facts are very hard to come by.

    And anyone who doubts that truly has no respect for journalism and reporting.

    However legitimate all the calls for greater honesty, transparency, openness, bias-self-revelation and humility are, they are essentially insincere unless they acknowledge and empathize with some basic realities about journalism, its limits, challenges and basic standards.
    Why can’t anybody get the facts? Because lots of times people — sources, officials, real people — lie to you. Sometimes they shoot at you. Getting the facts about what’s going on in, say, a two-hundred square mile part of southern Louisiana that’s flooded is very difficult. Getting the facts in a murder case is difficult. You get the idea.

    Good reporting of true facts is not something to denigrate. Some of the best service the blogosphere has performed is simple fact-checking or fixing — and bloggers are rightly not shy in pointing that out. But they are — can be — miserly in according respect to the old-fashioned geezers who “just don’t get it” and continue produce the commodity of facts. Without those facts there wouldn’t be much to blog about.

    The MSM may be equally guilty for showcasing debate, sound bite food fights and on-demand editorializing. But really, that happens mostly on a slice of cable television, talk radio and op-ed sections. Most of the press is spending most of it time trying to get facts.

    And the notion that such facts can be mass-produced with perfect quality control as a freely distributed commodity for Jeff Jarvis and Dick Meyer to bloviate about is a corrosive myth.

  • jeff m

    Chancy: so if we don’t agree we must be gop folks?

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    Sorry, but while commenting earlier, I forgot to say what a hypocritical pile of horse sh*t this post is:

    This turned into a game of factual gotcha and in the process some lost sight of the real story

    So, in this new model of journalism, the Truth Seekers (whose endeavors render the very existence the simpleton Fact Checkers irrelevant) can point to any story of which they don’t approve and proclaim it not to be “The Real Story.”

    Fear not, lowly News Consumers! You need not strain your tiny brain trying to decide for yourself what is important. And be warned that should you do so and make the “wrong” choice, JJ and Friends will expose you as lacking in “emotional heft.”

    The woman who died was in a nursing home where the owners have been indicted for neglecting and not evacuating their residents. So, Russert says, that’s not the feds’ fault, huh?

    Sorry for getting bogged down in “facts”, but NO, no it wasn’t. This wouldn’t be an issue but for the fact that the woman was killed the day the hurricane hit. NO FEDS WERE INVOLVED at that time.

    And is this the kind of thing we can expect from this new breed of truth-seeking journalists?:

    That does not make the story of neglect of the entire city of New Orleans by government at all — all — levels any less vital.

    See, I mised the part where someone made that assertion. I’m glad you caught it.

    He wants Broussard to somehow say that by getting facts of this story wrong, his criticism of the feds was thus invalidated, was not “fair”

    Once again, I completely missed that. I’ll have to reread the transcript.

    The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.

    What planet are you on? How many people do you hear complaining that jounalists aren’t imparting enough “lessons”, or that they’re sick of being inundated with “facts?”

    Personally, I want facts from journalists. They’re in short supply these days.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    “Correcting the facts and missing the truth”

    It’s hard for me to get past that title, Jeff.

  • Ravo

    The left created and punted the blame game ball almost immediately onto the federal level. As the facts are exposed, the blame ball is FINALLY bouncing back onto it’s rightful owners. Now the Marym’s and Robs of the left scream the blame game ball should not exist, that it is stupid, and they want to quit it.

    That the game should not have begun…that I agree with.

    But it was and the false charges must now be answered.

  • SteveMG

    Baloney, Jeff.

    Reporters currency is facts. Facts, facts, facts.

    Get the facts right and then let others discover the truth (recall what Walter Lippmann said about this?).

    If you want good stories, turn on the Sci-Fi channel.

    SMG

  • Hunter McDaniel

    Jeff, please explain exactly why it’s wrong for Dan Rather to promote a legend and it’s also wrong for Russert to try and correct a legend he inadvertently promoted.

    I just don’t get it. Really, I don’t.

  • Maureen

    Oh Jefffff — & assorted moonbats.

    Remember the reports of “10,000 dead?” And the “hundreds dead, raped, murdered in the Dome?” You know, because Bush hates black people? And because it’s always important for the BBC, NYT, ABC, CBS, Washington Post, etc. to spin whatever they can to benefit the DNC.

    Um, check out this story in the Seattle Times. Seattle, BTW–not exactly a bastion of conservative thinking. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002520986_katmyth26.html

    SIX dead–not one of them murdered. (Which MSM “reporter” was it who supposedly had seen bodies with their throats slashed, along with dead babies?) And 4 bodies outside the Dome.

    Inotherwords–the usual amount of dead on a typical New Orleans weekend.

    Except that you can’t puff the usual New Orleans weekend & blame it on the President.

    Do you see why most of us don’t pay attention to what the MSM is writing? “Facts” eh? Please. I wonder if the “reporters” reporting that shit even believed it themselves at the time.

    So can we discount the “reports” of the 100,000 people at the rallies over the weekend? Especially since those reports are coming from the AP? Honey I live here, & there were fewer people hanging around than on a typical weekday. 100,000 my ass. Drop 1 & probably 2 zeroes off that number & you’re close to how few people there were (most of whom came for the free concert).

  • Maureen

    Or maybe all those “murdered” in the Dome were actually eaten?

    That evil genius Rove–he snuck them all out!!

  • owl 1

    Sorry JJ…..if this doesn’t fall into “fake but accurate” I can’t file it.

    I am going to assume that you believed Broussard. I commented immediately that since I once knew a guy that could cry this way, I called him a liar. Because of a few facts that didn’t add up. Dates, flooding and phone lines immediately came to mind. Jersey thought I was being mean. I said after the explanation…..he’s lying because, well, he is still lying.

    The media rates a F- on Katrina. Treating them kindly you can call them “mistaken and emotional”. I don’t think I am missing the forrest, rather, the media missed it. They could have made a real difference if they had done their jobs. As it is, they gave us a one sided “it’s all Bush’s fault” hit job, as they showed people in misery. Day after day. I think their job is to give us some facts. Soap operas give us more honest facts.

    It took a week to find the food and water. Why media? And after a week, how many of your previously mislead customers, have you bothered to make sure you correctly informed?

    I am still waiting for some emotional reporter (perhaps the one that wrote that Wed Gov Blanco was crying and asking about buses?) to calmly ask Gov Blanco why she did not send her school buses on Wed to pick up her people. She was pointing fingers on that Wed and throughout the next 2 weeks. WHY was not one of those whiney reporters pointing at Baton Rouge school buses sitting 70 miles up the road? Hundreds of school buses, sitting high and DRY. Beautiful picture and probably appreciated by those old sick people and babies. WHY?

    Facts.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    It looks like your readers are asking for a follow-up, Jeff.

  • Ravo

    “Tim Russert, host of the program, refused to ask Broussard the central question:

    “Sir, who is responsible in your Parish for evacuating nursing homes in advance of Category 4 hurricanes?”

    http://rightnumberone.blogspot.com/

  • Ravo

    Price tag…

    Just heard on the radio…The biggest pork barrel project ever…they want 250 BILLION DOLLARS (did I hear right?) from the pockets of American taxpayers, to be spread around like just so much manure – handed to the same corrupt governments in LA that misappropriated the levee dollars etc.

  • EricH

    Jeff:
    How can we determine the truth if our facts are wrong? Isn’t truth based on a series of fact that are collated or arranged in a way to provide us the correct view of the world or the correct accounting of events? That first draft of history as Hemingway called it?

    The “real story” relies on facts.

    Sorry, I’m very confused as to what you’re arguing here.

    EJH

  • Wabbott

    Jeff:

    Did you really write this?

    “Too much of journalism is turning this way today: If we nitpick the facts and follow some rules some committee wrote up, we’ll be safe; we’re doing our jobs. No, sir, our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.”

    You’re not serious, are you?

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Correct the errors? Of course.
    Treat the man as if he were a criminal? Well, then, expect to be treated similarly whenever you make a mistake.
    And act as if this invalidates his bigger story? That’s offensive.
    Broussard said it. And I say it: Government failed at every level.
    Russert could have gotten to the facts — including how Broussard got his messed up — and then continued to deal with the real story. Instead, he turned this into an ambush on Broussard and lost the real story. I said it before. I’ll say it again.

  • Eileen

    “The guy who runs this building I’m in, emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” And he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday.” And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night….”

    Such heartwrenching drama in such acute, he said, she said detail! Does this sound like something ‘staff’ relayed?

    Honestly, the moment Broussard claimed he’d never heard that tape(!) and started getting weepy again, I knew we were in for more whoppers. Deflect, deflect. Deny, deny. And above all else: EMOTE. If you’re sufficiently outraged by “the *real* story”, facts don’t much matter.

    Someone must have passed around a Katrina memo to the media and Jeff must have received it. The idea, see, is to rant, rail and express outrage that *SOMEBODY (Bush, FEMA)* didn’t DO something fast enough. Mere facts get in the way of that message.

    The only thing MSM/Jarvis cares about are the theatrics. If we aren’t bamboozled by the lies, we must all – all – be morally bereft for (nonetheless) failing to get the real story. Shame on us for expecting *actual facts*! We need to ‘learn our lessons’ about what MSM decides we should be outraged by, and accept the agenda they perpetually try to shove down our collective throats. If we don’t jump when they scream how high, well, we really should just be ashamed of ourselves.

    Chancy says: “It won’t play in Peoria folks. Rant and rave on and on.” Actually Chancy, you should be addressing that comment to the MSM and JJ. It’s the folks in Peoria, as well as those from the Super Dome, who recognize *the actual facts* regarding Katrina. And it ain’t some trumped up, contrived truth without any basis in reality.

    It’s just more brouhaha all the way ’round. Would anyone care to wager on whether any of the parish presidents, the major, the legislators and the governor of LA will be reelected? What kind of memo will be passed around in the MSM club then? [Btw, looks like the repubs will pick up yet another state.]

    Katrina noise. These agonized screams from nanny MSM must surely sound like those of the dinosaurs immediately before being swallowed up by the very same tar they used to paint *their* facts and *their* views as *our* reality one too many times.

    I’ll play a dirge, hum along, and do a nice little jig on their graves.

  • Eileen

    Quelle timing..

  • EricH

    The World according to Jeff:

    Ambush Broussard = bad.

    Ambush Bernie Goldberg = good.

    Hmm, notice a pattern developing here?

  • David

    # Ravo Says:
    September 26th, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    Price tag…

    Just heard on the radio…The biggest pork barrel project ever…they want 250 BILLION DOLLARS (did I hear right?) from the pockets of American taxpayers, to be spread around like just so much manure – handed to the same corrupt governments in LA that misappropriated the levee dollars etc.
    **********************************************************

    I guess you’d be happier if we handed it over to Chalabi and his pals…opps we did that already didn’t we…and look what it got us in Iraq.

  • CanDoGal

    I say, let’s give money to everyone who wants it. I want it. My life is a wreck. How about you? How about we all just put out our hands and cry when no one comes to help us? How about we blame the government when things don’t turn out right? Gosh, there’s a thunderstorm and my basement flooded. Where’s my money? How come there’s too much traffic at my street corner? How come I don’t get the same social security deal as my mom and dad? How come I have to pay full price at the movie theater? I’m closing in on 50…

    I heard of a guy in Houston who had instant messaging, and his away-message read, Still Waiting for FEMA to Come Over and Reset the Clock on my VCR.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Ambush Broussard = bad.

    Ambush Bernie Goldberg = good.

    And when you consider that Broussard wasn’t really ambushed, while Bernie Goldberg was, it’s even worse.

    Jarvis, what the hell’s happened to you?

  • Ravo

    David: look what it got us in Iraq.

    No, not Chabali.

    But, I’d rather have it fighting the war on terror and spreading democracy than disappearing into the pockets of LA corruption.

    Neglect terror, and the entire nation will look like LA not so far down the road. The war on terror needs to be the world’s number one priority.

    It may not seem so, but:

    “global warfare has decreased by over 60 per cent since peaking in the mid-1980s, falling… to its lowest level since the late 1950s”.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/09/18/do1802.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/09/18/ixportal.html

    The spread of Democracy is a reason.
    Democracies usually don’t war with other Democracies.

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    Russert could have gotten to the facts — including how Broussard got his messed up — and then continued to deal with the real story.

    The facts?

    Come on, Jarvis. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.

  • Ravo

    John from WuzzaDem…great site!

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Broussard said it. And I say it: Government failed at every level.

    That isn’t actually what Broussard said; rather, he said the Federal Government failed in every case, and local government (including his) was golden. And the evidence was a nursing home’s refusal to accept evacuation assistance that was offered to them by, um, government. But who cares about facts?

    I understand what Weinberger is doing: he’s a paid shill of the Democratic Party, a former Howard Dean staffer. But the others? Who knows.

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    Thanks, Ravo. Be sure to check it tomorrow morning.

  • EverKarl

    I’m crying, so I must be right. If you get my deeper meaning, that is.

  • Ravo

    So, look at this face. It is the face of Democrat dishonesty. It is also the face of complicity of the press in promoting the lie, by not bothering to check out the truth of the “facts” of the person in the photo.

    http://chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=17002

  • Ravo

    John…will do, thanks…:-)

  • Chancy

    “Would anyone care to wager on whether any of the parish presidents, the major, the legislators and the governor of LA will be reelected? ”

    With his present sorry poll numbers and screw ups in Iraq and Katrina, if Bush were running again he would NOT be reelected..

    Face the music folks. 2006 is coming soon.

  • Ravo

    History will bring the proper respect to Bush.

    History will bring the shame on the LA officials they deserve, hopefully even by 2006

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    Face the music folks. 2006 is coming soon.

    Remember when 2004 was “coming soon”?

  • Jane

    Government failed at every level.
    You are aware that Tom Rodrigue’s full title was flood zone manager for the Jefferson Parish Office of Emergency Management He gave a heartbreaking interview on Sept. 17th.

    Where you see government failing, I see individuals making dreadfully wrong decisions. It’s called criminal manslaughter.

    Broussard is a blowhard. He took a lot of heat in July 2005 when he took it upon himself to call for mandatory evacuation before Hurricane Dennis had even entered the Gulf. Broussard fully understood how a hurricane would impact his parrish. And, both Broussard and Rodrigue fully understood which communities would be most adversely impacted by a break in the levees. They both knew which homes were hit hardest on Monday.

    The truth of the story is that a flood zone manager with a Category 5 Hurricane bearing down on his City could not persuade the sheriff to enforce a mandatory evacuation on a residential facility that was required by law to have an evacuation plan in place. The sheriff simply shrugged his shoulders.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    Oog.

    And act as if this invalidates his bigger story? That’s offensive.

    Stop calling it a “bigger story”. What you are defending is early and erroneous presumption. You are defending the invalidation of mistaken presumption by Evil Facts.

    This one does not do you credit, Mr Jarvis.

    Treat the man as if he were a criminal? Well, then, expect to be treated similarly whenever you make a mistake.

    What would be the diff for people right of center? MSM already tends to treat their ideology as criminal. My left-of-center friends treat *me* like a criminal when I simply voice my support of conservative tax policy. It was an MSM reporter who tried to leak Iraq battle plans early in order to trip up US plans because he felt that invading Iraq was criminal.

    Liberal press is obsessed with the concept of right wing criminality, and sees a Nixon hiding in every conservative suit.

    The only thing I saw out of character in the Russert grilling was that it was a Democrat for once instead of a Republican. Oh, it happens from time to time… but not often. Infrequently enough to get our attention when it does happen.

    Mr Jarvis, you really think that a conservative Republican caught on a big lie wouldn’t get the third degree? At best? Unless journalists really thought they had one completely dead to rights or loony/extremist and could make a fool of him on camera, most conservatives probably wouldn’t even be allowed the courtesy allowed Broussard to defend himself at length.

    However, Broussard blew it. Get past the crying act, his defense is weak. He did not tell an innocent story as many keep insisting; he tried to indict the administration that his political party hates using a made-up story. The real story proves the inverse of the touted “bigger story”, which is why the facts are indeed important.

    Broussard sticks by an unquestionably false story because that’s the one he was told (he says); he accuses those questioning the obviously flimsy details of his made-up story of being evil and heartless. He tries to indict those questioners by personalizing the death of the woman, while still not acknowledging that he exploited her death.

    His last refuge is that he went through the storm, too. Well, fine. I know plenty of people who *also* made it through that storm who say that he and other local pols are skunks.

  • wadikitty

    EverKarl
    “I’m crying, so I must be right. If you get my deeper meaning, that is.”

    Yeah, well I’m sobbing so hard I can hardly breathe. Rivers of snot are running out of my nose: so I must be even more right.

  • http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthi Jay Rosen

    Uh oh, Jeff… you stirred up the bias hornets. They sting. And you got the “just the facts” horsemen to mount up and ride against you, as well. Good going.

  • Kyda Sylvester

    It was an attempt to discredit the story’s teller in order to deny the story’s meaning. It was contemptible.

    A weeping politician tells the tragic story of a colleague’s mother’s death (which he characterizes as murder). The story is widely reported and sways public opinion against the purported culpable parties, the federal government and in particular the Bush administration. Later we learn that none of the facts surrounding the woman’s death as related by the emotional pol is accurate. But, we’re told, although the story’s facts may be inaccurate, its “meaning” is authentic, and we shouldn’t let the misrepresentation of those facts obscure their meaning.

    What is the “meaning” of this story? The truth of the matter is that 34 elderly and infirm people died as a result of the criminal negligence of their custodians who failed to remove them from harms way. If you are one who believes that local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that all persons of risk are accounted for in preparation for an emergency, then you should find such authorities negligent as well. There is simply no way to pin this one on the Bush administration. You may want to make the case that the federal response to Katrina was lacking, even criminally so, and you may well make that case, but you won’t do it with this story.

    I can accept that Broussard may have had his days confused (although I do find it strange that he would not have known of Mrs. Rodrigue’s death until the following Friday. After all, Rodrigue runs emergency management and, according to Broussard, is “responsible for everything”. Surely the two worked closely together and had frequent contact during that week). However, the rest of it, the daily phone calls–”Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?”–and the assurances–”Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday”–are confabulation if not outright fabrication.

    And when he’s called on it, Broussard goes off on another emotionally minipulative tear and accuses his critics of wanting to “nitpick a man’s tragic loss of a mother because she was abandoned in a nursing home”. Huh? What we’re “nitpicking” is a politician’s seemingly calculated attempt to deflect criticism from the “home team” to the “away team” who, as it happens, merely a coincidence I’m sure, plays for the other league.

    Contemptible? You bet.

  • Charlie Brooks

    Every last one of you blaming Broussard & the locals — while letting FEMA, Bush & the federal response — is flat-out wrong.

    Gov. Blanco requested federal action on August 27th, Bush signed the emergency declaration on August 27th. He then proceeded to cut birthday cake w/McCain, instead of getting something done and monitoring the hurricane.

    Bush had the authority. Bush had the responsibility. Legal and moral.

    Finally, Bush — and only Bush — had the resources, the means, the legally-charged bureaucratic agency, and the legal decision/declaration in hand — to respond effectively to a disaster of this magnitude.

    You all are desperate as hell, and currently lack the asses you’ve been lying off. What’s worse, I’ve never read nor seen a more contemptible pack of rats. Poltroons! the lot o’ ya.

  • Eileen

    Well, Jay, might it be that the MSM club – in their zeal to frame the administration – might have gone a teensy bit too far, way-too-soon on this one? Many of us pleaded for the blame game to be shelved until cooler heads might prevail and the facts were in, to no avail. Are we to throw all ensuing facts to the Katrina winds in an effort to further support/protect the ideology/propaganda you and your brethren preach? Will that do any service to your profession? Aren’t you and JJ professors of journalism?

    Some of us see ‘bigger stories’ of another kind altogether here. We come armed with facts. And Broussard is only the tip of the lying MSM iceberg regarding Katrina.

    The media propaganda machine is in its throes. It will achieve it’s death by suicide because no amount of attempted interventions, pleas for logic or facts have been heeded or even respected. We the readers and viewers will continue giving back the respect we’ve received, which is to say: nil.

    I predict the ‘real’, lasting story of Katrina from an historical perspective will be how America’s own media tried to shape political history through its propaganda and lies during the storm of this century…and ended up sounding its own death knell in the process. How’s that for the epitaph of ‘legacy media’?

    And sorry Charlie, but Bush did NOT “have the authority”, by law; to wit: the Posse Comitatus Act. In order to overcome that law, states must request federal troops. And Blanco did not ask for them until the 31st. Moreover, she continuously DENIED federal offers of assistance to coordinate NO’s evacuation as late as September 2nd and beyond. In fact, she never ceded any state power to the feds to facilitate Katrina aid, and thereby prevented them from acting. The state also prevented food and water from entering the city. And were you aware that FEMA was prepositioned with many response teams and ready to go in Baton Rouge – among several other locations – on the 27th, two days Before the storm hit (google FEMA, August 27, 2005, and read all about it, Charlie)?

    Those pesky facts that will do you in every time, Charlie.
    And in this case, MSM too. O the irony.

    We will *not* agree to just throw out facts when it’s expedient for MSM’s benefit to do so, and instead focus upon it’s purported ‘real’ story. Instead we’ll throw out the MSM, which doesn’t much care about reporting the facts any more.

    And Charlie, every time you call us names, we’ll throw FACTS right back atcha.

  • peter

    Its sad when getting the facts correct is called nitpicking. When those facts are then used to charge the fed with buracatic muder it a nice idea that they in fact be true. They were not . This hasnt stoped you and your supporters from still making the charge. The story had more to do with local problems than with federal problems but I guess thats a story you don’t want told.

  • walt

    The truth, you can’t handle the truth Jarvis. You just want to blame Bush.

    Bush forced the evacuation order to be issued before the storm; otherwise it would have been a bigger mess.

    New Orleans did not follow their evacuation plan. 700 buses and probably many more cars that could have been used to evacuate people before the storm and rescue them after the storm were flooded out.

    The mayor told people to go to a place that was not prepared to care for them.

    FEMA is not a first responder, but Bush issued a disaster declaration before the storm hit so supplies and disaster teams were pre-positioned. The federal government can not just waltz in and take over a state. The governor did not request help in a timely manner. The Coast Guard and FEMA teams were in there from the get-go.

    The Red Cross and Salvation Army had supplies ready to be taken to the Superdome and Convention center but were prevented from doing this by Louisiana officials. They did not want to attract more people to those sites, and wanted to make people leave by not providing them with food and water.

    People could not leave because the Gretna police would not let them cross the one bridge that was accessible. Also the buses were useless.

    The problem with the feds (Brown and Chertoff) is they did not expect the levees to fail, but since the governor was not cooperating, this had little effect on their response. They also did not expect the mayor and governor to be completely incompetent.

    MSM stories of lawlessness kept help out until federal troops came in. The troops were late on the scene because the the governor.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Walt, didn’t anybody give you the memo? You’re not supposed to be that blunt: You’re not supposed to come right out and say you’re defending Bush.
    I’m not attacking just Bush. I’m attacking all levels of government and I don’t want to let any of them off the hook. You shouldn’t either.

  • Aaron

    If I want emotion and feeling without facts, I think I can turn on the TV and watch a fictional drama.

    Or will the people buying this argument accept the same logic for, say, Saddam’s WMD’s? Sure, they didn’t exist in 2003 as far as we know, but the drama of the invasion was so compelling….

  • Ravo

    Carson Fire says:

    The real story proves the inverse of the touted “bigger story”, which is why the facts are indeed important.

    Well put. It’s why the blame game started by the left is now all of a sudden something to be halted.

    I think Jeff’s posting of the false elements of the nursing home story was indeed an honest mistake…there being no agenda beyond his upfront one of not letting any responsible parties off the hook.

    That does not seem the case with Broussard. Did he deliberately attempt to set up others with failures he knew were not theirs to the point of even fabricating failures.

    It looks as if Broussard’s agenda is to hide the failed responsibility of some and frame others with it.

    Frankly, I have more compassion for those who made honest mistakes during a terrible ordeal and failed, then I do for whoever is behind this nursing home lie and all those who knowingly attempt to frame this one for the mistakes of that one.

    I have repeatedly asked, and never gotten an answer what it is the feds did…in detail. Saying that Bush was eating cake and not tending to business such as Charlie mentioned…is worse than no answer. It’s a “Broussard”.

    For instance, to say it was the Feds fault that FEMA was late is not an answer, when they were there, but could not act because the Governor didn’t authorize the soldiers to act to protect them, is not an answer.

    I WANT to KNOW Jeff, not generalities, but exactly where and when the FEDS screwed up in this nursing home fiasco.

  • Ravo

    AND, if the FEDS had NO responsibility….let’s say it VERY plainly.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Mr. Rosen:

    Uh oh, Jeff… you stirred up the bias hornets. They sting. And you got the “just the facts” horsemen to mount up and ride against you, as well. Good going.

    I can only speak for myself, but I’m not a bias hornet. In fact, when I type the phrase “MSM” I puke in my mouth a little, because I think portraying traditional media as a monolithic entity is kind of silly. And I realize that blogs are at least as bad, if not worse, as traditional media in terms of picking a narrative and sticking with it. This isn’t a bias issue; Russert confronted the guy when it was discovered that the story wasn’t true, it isn’t like he swept this under the rug. But I can see why dismissing criticism of Jeff’s post as solely the product of MSM-hater kneejerking would have a certain appeal.

    Jeff,

    I’m not attacking just Bush. I’m attacking all levels of government and I don’t want to let any of them off the hook. You shouldn’t either.

    I think that I can refuse (with respect to Broussard specifically) to just “correct the error and move along” without letting Bush off the hook. The thing is, Broussard has nothing to offer us at this point except his story. After telling a story with great specificity that turned out to be virtually completely untrue, I think his credibility is for shit. So it was valid to focus on his credibility in the follow up interview.

    That doesn’t mean I draw a general conclusion vis-a-vis the feds’ alleged failures as a result of determining that he’s full of shit. It just means I don’t give a damn what this individual guy has to offer by way of oral testimony at this point.

    If you call that assessment of his credibility a case of missing the forest for the trees, I guess I’m guilty.

  • http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2005/09/09/ktr_aft.html Jay Rosen

    Eileen: I find “don’t blame Bush; don’t you even try to blame Bush, you punk; christ, they’re blaming Bush, oh my god did you hear them try to blame Bush?…” hysteria as idiotic and reflexive as the blame-the-Feds-for-every-failure impulse. Neither discourse is truth-seeking. What you are really saying is: the culture war must roll on, and it will roll on, hurricane or no.

    And I don’t know what you mean by “my brethren.” I am a journalism professor, therefore I should answer to every hate-filled thing you have to say about the news media? However I did write a post criticizing the breast-beating of television news after Katrina. Click my name for it.

  • Brian

    Long time reader, first time poster. Maybe a last time reader. My wife and I have followed the Katrina coverage closely as she’s from NOLA, and in particular Broussard’s more-than-mistaken (if you believed at the time that phones were accessible at whatever home in question I have numerous bridges to sell you) interview. It utterly sickened us as us “cold-hearted” individuals knew it was B.S. the whole time.

    JJ isn’t just 100% wrong, he’s 1000% wrong. Broussard KNEW what he was saying wasn’t accurate and Russert, albeit later than it should have been, finally called him out on it. I’m not inside Broussard’s mind, but the same intuition that told us his story was incorrect is the one telling us he did it all for political gain.

    I’ve been a reader of the buzzmachine for a long time, but then I read that “Lessons are what we’re after” and now I wonder what makes JJ different than any other mainstream media whore with a narcissistic attitude.

    Gee Jeff, why don’t you start every post with a “lesson” for all of us, since we’re too stupid to ingest facts and make our own decisions?

    Here’s a lesson. Many people were duped by Broussard. You were duped by Broussard. For some reason you think it was unfair for Russert to seek the truth rather than whatever “mission” you think he should have undertaken.

    You are so wrong, and so hypocritical on this its unbelievable.

  • Kathy

    Ambush, according to Russert this am on IMUS, Broussard was advised that Meet the Press would be addressing the nursing home story as related on his previous appearance that is hardly an ambush. Mr. Broussard was aware in advance of the topic and was prepared to answer and did so effectively. Please note Jefferson Parish was expecting a Category 5 hurricane and their emergency mgmt Maestri had famously renamed in the 2004 Fema trial the hurricane from PAM to KYAGB (kiss your ass goodbye). The local government was well aware of the conditions that would face their populations. Pass the buck blame is the only defense the locally elected officials can muster but the voter will have the final say if and when they return.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Warning, Jay – Eileen is normally very reasonable. Every once in a while something gets to her, though, and she’ll go after MSM, and your little dog too.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    Jeff Jarvis: I’m not attacking just Bush. I’m attacking all levels of government and I don’t want to let any of them off the hook. You shouldn’t either.

    Charlie Brooks: Every last one of you blaming Broussard & the locals — while letting FEMA, Bush & the federal response — is flat-out wrong.

    The feds DO bear responsibility — they bear responsibility for the things that they did wrong, the things that WERE their responsibility.

    The insidiousness of this Broussard argument is that the logic runs: the feds bear some responsibility THEREFORE it is acceptable for a local pol to use made-up stories to illustrate the malfeasance of the feds in a situation in which they seem to have actually had no responsibility; further, it is wrong to question the made-up stories in light of the arrived-at assumptions.

    Whether you are against Bush or just defending a biased press, that is an ugly method of arriving at truth. Calame at the NYT has been dealing with something like this… one of the NYT writers essentially fictionalized a Geraldo Rivera TV moment by saying that he nudged aside an emergency worker so he could be seen helping a victim himself. Reviewing the tape of the same television moment that the writer saw, the nudge didn’t happen. Yet Keller decided it was OK for the writer to stick by the fiction in light of Geraldo’s abrasive personality. The fictionalized version was OK, you see, because it supported the “larger truth”; it didn’t really happen, but because it illustrated how the writer *feels* about Geraldo, lying becomes an acceptable journalistic practice.

    Couldn’t this just as easily be a justification for Jayson Blair’s entire career? If these lies and distortions are OK because they support the “larger truth”, what does it matter if Blair made up his stories if they were at least truthful?

  • Superwoody

    Hey Jeff, I don’t know if you know this but…. THAT IS WHY PEOPLE DISTRUST JOURNALISTS!! We know they skew the truth to their beliefs and say the HELL with facts. This story line has made my blood BOIL!

  • http://www.wuzzadem.com John from WuzzaDem

    Carson Fire,

    Why aren’t you posting on your blog? Seriously.

  • http://whatattitudeproblem.blogs.com/home/ greg

    This may come as a surprise, Mr. Burton, but we do have figured it out, which is why there is so much disgust with Jeff Jarvis’ holier-than-thou-attitude. And I find it profoundly ironic that someone who believes “authenticity with passion is more than facts” has a blog called Genius Now. Frankly, I’ll take the truth over passion any day.

  • Eileen

    Jay’s mischaracterization of my words is a classic. It is true I will defend against knee jerk, blanket assignment of blame by the MSM to Bush and FEMA until I see exactly what it is he/they did wrong. If MSM can present some *facts* juxtaposed against what was taking place by all parties simultaneously, with a backdrop of relevant legal constraints, have at it. But I’m no Valley Girl, Jay. And if I objected to your earlier insulting blanket remarks regarding the posters here, it’s because you spoke to Jeff from behind a velvet rope as if the two of you were observing misguided children, which we are not.

    And Greg, I had to laugh, thanks. [But wasn't that a tornado?] What ‘got to me’ here is the MSM’s use of non-existent facts to hammer home a smear job. Then as actual facts emerge which don’t support the frame, it’s time to shift and ‘refocus’ the lens back on that crowd in the dome, cover our ears and repeat the same tired message anyway: Bush/FEMA screwed up. (Last night on cable the term used was ‘botched’.) We don’t know how, but we’re sure he did. And we don’t want to hear about/nitpick regarding any facts that might otherwise interfere with that agenda.

    I look forward to full hearings, and the exposure of *all* facts regarding Katrina.

  • Lance

    Jeff,

    I find this interesting. Few people despise our local politicians down here in Louisiana more than I, but I have spent a fair amount of time arguing in other places for everybody to hold off on crucifying Nagin, Blanco (though my patience has worn off there) and many others. As a previous comment pointed out, screw ups happen. Sometimes great leaders emerge from screw ups depending on how they handle them.

    I should attempt to set one fact straight, many seem to be assuming that Thomas Rodrigue was in charge of emergency preparedness where the nursing home was located. I may have my facts wrong but I understand it was in St. Bernard parish, not Jefferson. Rodrigue may be a thief, liar or saint, I don’t know much about the man, but I don’t think he had any direct responsibility over that nursing home.

    I love this site, but Jeff, are you kidding me? Aaron Broussard? In knew he was lying, and that is the key here Jeff, lying not mistaken, as soon as I saw the interview. St. Bernard had telephone service? You couldn’t use a telephone 100 miles north of there, much less in St. Bernard. The Wal-Mart story? He had no idea why those trucks were re-routed. All of the tales about the heroic sheriff Harry Lee? Well Jeff, if you knew anything about our local politicians, if you knew anything at all about Harry Lee, hearing Aaron Broussard laud Harry (and I strongly suspect those stories are lies as well) should have clued you in. You got suckered by the local scam artists. Harry Lee is a vicious racist, and that at least he is honest about. The little business empire he and the rest of the Sheriffs, police and other politicians set up for themselves is less honest, especially in the gambling industry.

    These guys are not straight line Democrats because the Louisiana Democratic Party has nothing to do with contemporary liberalism, its a product of populism, a demagogic miasma of handouts, graft, vote buying, racism, race baiting, cultural libertinism embedded in close minded bigotry and cultural conservatism. The LDP has no ideology. Until recent decades it had 98% of the vote! Everybody was a member regardless of the ideology. It is an ugly legacy and the natives took you for a ride. He was no more genuine than Edwin Edwards.

    Just for the record (and if you want to challenge my facts I’ll be glad to come back when I have a little more time with a link and back them up) Rodrigue says he had never spoken to Broussard of the incident and can’t imagine how Broussard could have been confused. It seems to me Mr. Rodrigue is being nice. Aaron lied, not for the first time and not for the last.

    The sad thing is liberals defending this man and other local politicians. These are not the people we should be defending. The “heroic” Harry Lee and his lying little pet toad Broussard are the types of people we should despise. Attack Bush, go ahead. Don’t however whitewash people like Broussard, Harry Lee, Morial, Landrieu, Edwards and the rest of this crew, they have ruled down here long enough. There is a deeper meaning here Jeff, and you missed it. It is the cancer that our local politicians are on our state. You saw it on full display and got taken in. Those of us down here knew better, we’ve seen it before too many times.

  • walt

    “I’m not attacking just Bush. I’m attacking all levels of government and I don’t want to let any of them off the hook. You shouldn’t either. ”

    I am not defending Bush, I just want the blame placed where it belongs. You should try it sometimes.

    If we want to criticize the feds we should look at their response in Mississippi where the eye of the storm actually hit. I have not seen much about Mississippi expect how Walmart came to the rescue.

  • Ravo

    John from WuzzaDem…

    I guess you’ve seen this? It credits you for prompting the MSNBC investigation.

    http://media.nationalreview.com/076913.asp

    Re: your parody. I normally trust Buzzmachine.com, but have to admit I’ve been deeply disappointed with Jeff’s postings on this Broussard subject, especially the last two.

  • Ravo

    I have not seen much about Mississippi expect how Walmart came to the rescue.

    Wasn’t Wal-Mart turned back when it tried to help in New Orleans?

    Lance: thanks, that was quite a peek at things from the inside.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Eileen – glad you laughed, I was trying for gentle tease [tornado, hurricane, all the hot air...]. I do understand the upset from all sides, actually, but it’s still not my major concern. Anyway, thanks for reading it right – that seems to be rare lately.

    Greg – Speaking of “reading it right”, the issue of “authenticity with passion” goes to why people give attention to someone, not to whether the presentation is factual or not. Someone can be authentic and ineffectual (see Jimmy Carter, who I supported), or inauthentic and very effective (see Richard Nixon, who I did not). My point was that attention tends to follow authenticity, regardless of the verifiable truth of the content. I’m amazed you would consider that controversial. Guess you misread that part.

    Oh, and if you’re going to indulge in ad hominum attacks on your blog, it would be courteous to let the person know. Thanks for the link love, though.

  • Patrick

    “. . . our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.”

    With the greatest respect Jeff: you are correct insofar as you observe that the best journalism offers more than reportage of facts. But everything of value that journalism offers begins with facts. Facts are the sine qua non of journalism, even if they are not the sum of it. Journalism that does not begin with accurate facts is worthless because “truth,” “justice,” and “lessons” founded on fiction are illusory. Yes, give me analysis and passion. But first, be sure of your facts.

    As others have observed, there are plenty of true facts to support an indictment of the federal response to Katrina. Why not stick to those? And kudos to Tim Russert for taking the responsibility as a journalist to correct the factual record as publicly as it was initially distorted on his watch. Would that all journalists shared his regard for factual accuracy.

  • Insufficiently Sensitive

    “Authenticity with passion is more than facts, and is independent of ideology.”

    And huge multitudes of media liars know this, and do their very best to use passion to trump authenticity – as in CNN telling its interview subjects to ‘get mad’. Hurl accusations against the Feds with no concern for the legal chain of responsibility. Use human distress due to natural forces as the propellant for missiles against a President who was accused, with very small basis, as being responsible for it all.

    He honorably apologized for those mistakes the Feds made, which were in their line of responsibility. The media liars paint that apology as an abject confession of turpitude encompassing the whole disaster – for which the first responders at City and State level bear the great majority of the blame.

  • http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2005/09/09/ktr_aft.html Jay Rosen

    “Anybody can get facts” brought me up short, as well, Jeff. I think that’s an unnecessarily provocative way of saying that, often in journalism, fact collection is just the beginning. It scans as: getting the facts is the easy part, and frequently that is not the case at all. Might be worth clarifying.

  • Ravo

    Is it against a law to go on national TV and attempt to incite a riot against the federal government with lies? If not …it should be.

    What good is any of this blather unless something comes of it?

    For instance, last year Blanco’s incompetence with Hurricane Ivan hurt human beings…and she went on to do worse this year. Last year would have killed many as well, but Ivan co-operated.

    Last year, when Hurricane Ivan threatened, Ms. Blanco was indecisive and lacked anything resembling leadership or authority. The contra-flow lanes on the Interstate system were opened far too late to be of any help and motorists were stranded on the road as the storm approached, unable to reach safety. Further, sick and elderly evacuees died from the horribly long waits in traffic. http://www.cornpone.net/2005/09/impeach_blanco.html

    Here’s a post from September 2004:

    http://www.cornpone.net/2004/09/big_easy_escape.html

    In the meantime, a one-finger salute to our government officials here in Louisiana for the horrible effort at evacuation. Had Ivan taken a western turn, this would have been not only a major blow to New Orleans but a major loss of life.

    Why are these clowns still in office and not in jail?

  • shark

    Too much of journalism is turning this way today: If we nitpick the facts and follow some rules some committee wrote up, we’ll be safe; we’re doing our jobs. No, sir, our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after

    What a load of crap. You can’t even get FACTS straight, now you think you’re qualified to give us “truths” and “lessons”?

    WHo’s truths do you want to use Mr. Jarvis? Something tells me you won’t like the “truths” and “lessons” that don’t toe a certain political line.

    And where does a lightweight entertainment infoscrub like yourself dare to comment on real journalism?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Even the LA Times realizes that the Real Story about Katrina was the media’s factual meltdown (“Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy”), so it’s incredibly lame to continue defending the “emotion over reason” angle that prompted this post (back on Brian Oberkirch’s blog).

    Television news has apparently realized that it can’t compete with print and blogs on the mere reportage of accurate information; it doesn’t have the bandwidth, and the audience doesn’ t have the attention span. So they’re gone back to their Dan-Rather-and-the-hurricane roots and offered us pure, tabloid sensationalism.

    Some journo-bloggers are threatened by this because they realize the selling power of TV’s cheap melodrama, so they want to steer the blogosphere in that direction. Blogs are still a text medium, so this isn’t going to work.

    Let’s accept our limitations and do what we can in our respective media: blogs can put accurate information out and analyze it to death; TV can present raw emotion, faked or otherwise, entrancing morons and children. Neither medium can be all things to all people.

    Damn.

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  • shark

    I’m attacking all levels of government and I don’t want to let any of them off the hook

    WHat a load….notice how anyone using the phrase “all levels of government” invariably focus like a laser on the Feds?

    Just like you are Jarvis.

    What’s that you say? I’m factlually wrong? Well, facts are nothing, you can’t invalidate the larger truth here!

    LIAR

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey – Liberty Dad

    The fact the woman died is certainly a tragedy.
    The fact that Broussard was blaming the Feds brings politics into an individual data point.
    If Broussard specifically blames one level of gov’t at an early time, based on a false fact, then the issue of the fact becomes crucial for blame designation. He was using her death for politics; and misusing her death by relating a false story.

    The truth is Mayor Nagin GAMBLED about Katrina and “no flooding” — but he lost; and some hundreds of people in NO lost their lives because of the gamble (and not using school busses for evacuation). Nobody deserves more blame than the Mayor.

    We can NOT fix problems, unless we accurately describe what the problem is.

    But if he HAD strongly evacuated, and Katrina caused very little damage, he would have been highly resented. Uncertain future negative events are not quite “facts”, but are not well dealt with.

  • owl 1

    The way the media ran with Broussard’s performance, you just knew they were having another fanasty of AWOL. If this is not Memogate, what is? AWOL never had any evidence, but did that stop them from producing excellent journalism? Only thing missing was a factual leg to stand on. And someone nitpicked even their fake but accurate memos.

    Lance summed it up with “suckered by a local scam artist” and “cancer of our state”. Or as I put it from Day 1…. he’s lying.

    JJ wants to attack all levels of government. My question is why? If one level was worse than another, why not say so. Gov Blanco, Sen Landrieu and Mayor Nagin were pointing fingers immediately. People were still trapped. I have asked over and over, what exactly did the Feds do wrong? If you are going to blame them, I need to know why. It is not that I doubt there were mistakes at all levels, I am sure there is enough blame to spread around with a 90,000 sq mile disaster. I want to know why you think you must distribute the blame in equal amounts? Why not facts instead of appearances?

    Only a few questions that need to be asked and answered. Who had the authority to send in LA National Guards, Red Cross food and water and those nice dry school buses sitting empty in Baton Rouge? Such simple questions that I would think even a “professional” journalist could manage. Call me a nitpicker.

  • Ravo

    Owl1 writes: “I have asked over and over, what exactly did the Feds do wrong?”

    I have never seen an answer to this question.

    I too, have asked it several times, right here. It is always ignored.

    If the feds share the blame:
    What exactly should President Bush have done…and exactly when…and exactly what difference would said action have made.

    If Nagin had used Amtrak and the buses prior to the storm, and Blanco had not delayed allowing the use of soldiers to protect the FEMA people so they were able to work the minute they got there….what exactly should Bush have done that he didn’t do?

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  • David Fleck

    Lessons are what we’re after.

    Jeff, seriously, screw you. Give me the facts, and I can figure out my own lessons. If you want to teach “lessons”, go run a Sunday school. I do not want some moralizing jackass preaching at me under cover of “journalism”.

  • Chancy

    Eileen said—-

    I look forward to full hearings, and the exposure of *all* facts regarding Katrina.”

    Eileen, I also look forward to full INDEPENDENT hearings re Katrina but I am not holding my breath.

  • Eileen

    Ah yeah, Chancy? As you know, I do too. You’ll get them. I promise. What we got today is only a baby prelude…..

  • Ernie

    MTP lives or dies on the strength of its guests: what they say, and (even better for ratings), how they emote. Russert’s going for a “gotcha” kept us all watching (for better or for worse). Decisions on his TV-life-expectancy postponed for the moment.

  • whodat

    Ernie you have no idea what you are talking about.

  • http://oldwolves.co.uk/ Ironbear

    I’m dissapointed in you, Jeff.

    So much for all your earlier railings against the media-as-gatekeepers from a year or two a ago. And goodbye to all that, hey? Fiction be like cool as long as it serves a Greater Truth. Fake but accurate.

    Kind of like you, only without the accurate.

    I didn’t say it before, but I’ll say it now: You sirrah, are a fraud and a charlatan. And a credit to your former profession it would seem – you’ve placed yourself in equal company with all of the so-called ‘journalists’ who turned out nice, nifty, false peices of unpleasant fiction under the guise of “reporting”.

    Once a “journalist”, always a “journalist”. And yes, I did mean to use that as an epithet.

  • http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php Billy Beck

    “It was an attempt to discredit the story’s teller in order to deny the story’s meaning.”

    Lemme guess: Dan Rather on the pajama-swarm.

    Right? Am I right?

  • http://www.serioussoft.com Mag

    Billy, this appears to be a case of a bunch of elected officials in the New Orleans area circling the wagons and protecting their own.

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  • http://www.homelandsecuritygroup.info Anthony M. Davis

    Having lived in Jefferson Parish Here’s something I thought your readers may find this of interest. I’ve posted below the results of a four-year survey address first responder training and readiness. Given the answers from the respondents, things generally don’t look that good.

    The Homeland Security Group conducted a four-year survey addressing training, readiness and a variety of challenges faced by First Responders. Respondents of the survey included law enforcement, security, intelligence, emergency management personnel and other members engaged in homeland security and first response duties. The results of this survey show that after the attacks in September 2001, inadequacies remain regarding first responder preparation.

    PRLog (Press Release) – April 30, 2008 – The survey focused on three main areas of concentration: Training, Hindrances and whether first responders feel they are adequately protected from a secondary attack. The questions posed during the survey address levels of readiness contrasting criminal vs. terror investigations.

    Training

    Respondents were asked if they believe their agency has received proper training to determine differences between a criminal vs. terror incident. Of those responding to the survey, 58 percent stated they lack sufficient training. Many respondents indicated they lack sufficient training in WMD-related preparedness. Others described information sharing issues. While this initially appears to fit within the category of hindrances, many indicated that they lack proper training regarding who to share with, how to initiate and maintain communication and what issues specifically require external coordination.

    Hindrances

    Respondents were asked three questions regarding whether the media, public or their own self-expectations hindered a criminal vs. a terror investigation. Responses indicate that 91 percent consider that the media poses a hindrance; 87 percent believe public expectations hinder an investigation, and 94 percent blame their own personal expectations as an encumbrance.

    Preparation for Secondary Attack

    Respondents were asked if they believe they are adequately protected from secondary attacks during a possible criminal or terrorist incident. The survey shows that 91 percent of those responding feel they are not protected. Numerous comments by respondents indicated they actually expect a secondary attack during a terrorist incident but they lack training, resources and personnel for such an event.

    Homeland Security Group founder, Anthony M. Davis began this survey four years ago intending to measure the readiness level of first responders. “I hoped to find some successes throughout the survey that could be translated to agencies nationwide”, he said. “Yet, throughout the measurement period, the numbers remained constant. While we’ve been very busy as a nation, we may not have been overly successful in preparing and protecting our personnel. There’s plenty of work to be done still.”

    Mr. Anthony M. Davis began publishing the Homeland Security Report as a free service to law enforcement, intelligence, security and emergency management personnel in October 2001. Each report is an open source view of homeland security issues and provides select officer safety information. Based on the ongoing results of the survey and discussions with first responders worldwide, Anthony M. Davis began authoring “Terrorism and the Maritime Transportation System.”

    According to Mr. Davis, “This book is not so much about terrorism. It is intended as a guide to provide first responders a view of the perspective need for readiness in the face of a potential attack.”The expected availability of the new text, “Terrorism and the Maritime Transportation System” is in May 2008.

    More information on the Homeland Security Group is available at http://www.homelandsecuritygroup.info

    Contact Information
    admin@homelandsecuritygroup.info

    ###

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