Sunday, September 11, 2005

What Media Bias? - Katrina Edition

In what has become disturbingly clear in the wake of hurricane Katrina, the MSM, in general, has totally surrendered any supposed right to call themselves 'News' organizations. Truth has been sacrificed for their need to out do their competitors and try and prove their worth on an increasingly large global market. Collectively, they have taken the art of rumor mongering to an entirely new level. Nowhere is that more apparent than their general dislike for President Bush.

If you don't believe me please answer me this one simple question: Can you name specific examples of where the Federal Government, through FEMA, has failed in response to Hurricane Katrina. For bonus points, show how the response times of FEMA was different from their response times for other hurricanes.

Now I don't want answers like "Well just look at the devastation!" or "Well they should have gotten people out sooner!", no, I want hard facts that somehow FEMA's response was inadequate. And don't forget, your answers must actually include situations under FEMA's control, not situations where the state or local bureaucracies caused the problems.

That's not to say they were perfect, but if you watched the news or read a paper you would have to assume there are hundreds of such cases out there. After all, as every reporter was so quick to say, it was a Federal breakdown of enormous proportions that caused all the suffering but they continually fail to provide any details as to how the Federal system broke down.

If news organization had to follow standards anywhere near those used in a courtroom, the phrase "assumes facts not in evidence" would be a constant running banner across the bottom of the screen. Investigation has been replaced with assumptions and when facts come to light that put your assumptions at risk, either ignore them of yell louder.

If you happened to catch the Today Show this morning you would have seen a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Campbell Brown was interviewing the mayor of Myrtle Beach, Mark McBride, and asking him about whether he had concerns about the fact FEMA director, Michael Brown would be in charge of implementing the Federal portion of any relief efforts that would be required, in the wake of the possible landfall of hurricane Ophilia, after his mismanagement of the New Orleans situation (this would be where the banner would be running at the bottom of the screen). The look of surprise on her face when Mayor McBride said he had no concerns was priceless.

Even after repeated attempts to get him to blame FEMA for the poor results in LA (she actually had to preface her questions with "yeah, but"'s because she was not getting the answers she wanted), all she managed to do instead was to show the marked differences in South Carolina emergency preparedness and that of New Orleans.

Mayor McBride stated quite clearly, that FEMA had already helped through their training sessions which city rescue worker and officials had gone to earlier in the year and they had an emergency plan in place and were prepared to follow it through. In a statement that left her with a rather odd look on her face he actually stated that emergency response was a local matter, then state and only as a last resort, Federal. He clearly pointed out that all their emergency plans are based on the idea of no Federal response till well after the storm, which just happens to be FEMA's official instructions to everyone, and that it is the cities responsibility to make sure rescue equipment and personnel are removed from the danger zone prior to the disaster so that they can be quickly brought back in to deal with the aftermath. He even went so far as to say he believed that Director Brown was just being made a convenient scapegoat for some of the other failures in LA. I got the distinct impression that he was not at all impressed with Governor Blanco or Mayor Nagins response to hurricane Katrina, but was just too polite to say so. His stressing that the recovery effort is a State and local responsibility, was one of the first times I had actually seen someone, who was not just a talking head, state what is in fact the law, on the air.

The old adage "If it bleeds it leads" seems to have become to restrictive to today's MSM. They have moved from the realm of simply selectively choosing what to report, to essentially chumming the waters themselves and then yelling shark (whether one exist or not is irrevalant, can't you see the blood in the water?).

Just take a look at Jeff's 'review' of the recent NewsWeek article on the subject of the Federal breakdown, titled "How Bush Blew It" (that's actually NewsWeek's title, not Jeff's). It's simply amazing what passes for journalism these days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Germans know never to disparage the Fuhrer, even if Gruppe Steiner is not coming. See the film "Downfall" for a good historic parallel.
For a straight answer, the anecdotal account of the FEMA response in Thomas' article coupled with the fact that declarations of emergency were filed August 28, two days before the storm hit, and the fact that FEMA failed to take a command and control initiative makes it clear that unlike the most recent batch of hurricanes in Florida, no effort was being made. FEMA should have been ready with contingencies within 12 hours of being notified; instead they undertook to deflect aid from the area.
Good luck with the denial, though. No place like home, three times, ruby slippers, go.

September 11, 2005 5:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoot the messenger. Is it always some Media conspiracy?! That Fuhrer parallel is becoming all too real. Do they control FOX 'news'?
The excellent Newsweek piece is not the only damning evidence this weekend. See Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, NY Times, . . .
There are many specific instances of FEMA mistakes- "FEMA had already stockpiled for immediate distribution 2.7 million liters of water, 1.3 million meals ready to eat and 17 million pounds of ice, a Department of Homeland Security official said. But Louisiana received a relatively small portion of the supplies; for example, Alabama got more than five times as much water for distribution. "It was what they would move for a normal hurricane -- business as usual versus a superstorm," concluded Mark Ghilarducci, a former FEMA official now working as a consultant" Washington Post, Sept 10th

FEMA did not do a good job!!
Pile on top of that the POTUS did not back them up when it became obvious.

September 11, 2005 6:22 p.m.  
Blogger Bic said...

Wow, jumping to the german references in the first sentence of the first reply. That must be an all time record. I guess you are just to blinded by hate to understand that this is in fact a perfect example of how the US is NOT a facist state. If this were 1940's Germany as you are trying to imply, the President would have just had the Governor removed and assumed control. The fact he followed the law, as layed out in the Constitution, kind of throws your whole analogy right out the window. But don't let facts ever get in the way of a good bush bashing screed.

A few points that you may want to consider.

1)Under the division of powers in the Constitution, no federal agency, that includes FEMA, can over ride a States rights of self governing, except in cases where their Constitutional rights of it's citizens are being violated by the State itself. Otherwise, they only have as much authority as the Governor allows them to have. In this case the Governor was not even inviting them to disaster response meetings that she was having.

2)Supplies were on the ground and ready to enter NO on day 1 of the storm. The Governor ordered them not to be allowed to enter. Check out the Red Cross and Salvation Army's statements on the subject.

3)FEMA is an administrative tool, NOT a first responder. They are designed, and always have been, to only enter a disaster area after the local authorities have determined the extent of the damage. That is why every state is told NOT to expect a FEMA response until 3-4 days after any natural disaster. Essentially they understand that having a few thousand people, unfamiliar with the locale, or what local resources are available, suddenly rush onto the scene and take control during the initial response would probably not be contructive. But I guess you know better.

4)Look at the time lines for FEMA's response. Despite so many people's claims about it being slow, it was actually the same or even faster that many other hurricanes in recent history.

5)The President attempted to have the Governor federalize the situation in the first week but she refused, thereby severly limiting anything that he could do.

6)The Federal response is based on the assumption that the local authorities have executed at least part of their own emergency plans, especially since they were given at least 2 days notice. This allows the Feds to hit the ground running when they arrive. In this case almost no part of the LA or NO plan was executed (the buses were unused, the fact the convention center is not even mentioned as a possible evacuation site in the plans, etc..) so when they arrived in force everything was just starting from scratch, or actually moving in the negative direction (ie the looters).

7)Part of the reasoning behind the 3-4 day response time is it takes a lot of time to organize and move that much personnel and equipment to any particular part of a country the size of the US. These people are NOT just sitting around in trucks full of supplies 24/7 waiting for orders to drive. Most of the workers have day jobs and haved to be 'activated'. Even for people such as the National Guard, it was expected that it would have been late Saturday or early Sunday before they could have arrived in force and they live in the damn State where it happened. But if you have replicator and transporter technology that you are not sharing with FEMA, as it appears by your statements, then shame on you.

And do you always post as anonymous, or only when you post over the top left wing rhetoric?

September 12, 2005 8:08 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cynthia McKinney made comments in the House on Sept 8. These comments are lifted from that speech. FEMAs response was criminally negligent. Why. As Bush packed FEMAs leadership with his cronies, the long term professionals who actually had disaster management expertise left in droves. Take er away, Cynthia

Some of the headlines. Notwithstanding what you may hear from the other side of the aisle or coming out of the White House about how everyone has to share the blame, these are some of the headlines.

"FEMA won’t accept Amtrak’s help in evacuations.’’

"FEMA turns away experienced firefighters.’’

"FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks.’’

"FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel.’’

"Homeland Security won’t let Red Cross deliver food.’’

"FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans.’’

"FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid.’’

"FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board.’’

"FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck.’’

"FEMA turns away generators.’’

"FEMA first responders urged not to respond.’’

Those are just a few of the headlines. I have got all of the documentation, of course.

There is also a story about three U.S. Customs Blackhawk helicopter crews that are absolutely livid because they had been directed not to provide full-time support for the hurricane relief effort in the Gulf.

"Navy ship nearby underused.’’ This is from the Chicago Tribune. A craft with food, water, doctors. All it needed was the orders. It never got the orders.

"Federal agency slow to accept business help.’’ This is from the Financial Times, "Federal agency slow to accept business help. From Wal-Mart’s satellite-based communications system to FedEx’s aircraft, U.S. business has in some cases managed to provide a swifter response to the initial impacts of Hurricane Katrina than the Federal and State authorities.’’

This is from the Salt Lake City Tribune: "Frustrated fire crews to hand out [Page: H7803] GPO’s PDF fliers for FEMA. Many of the firefighters assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by FEMA thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community relations officers for FEMA, shuffling throughout the gulf coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number, 1-800-621-FEMA,’’ which does not work most of the time.

September 15, 2005 1:47 a.m.  
Blogger Bic said...

It's almost funny to read your headlines that you appear to be trying to use as proof as several of them have already been debunked or explained, some in my previous comment. You are actually proving my point for me.

1)Amtrak - they've publicly stated they contacted the Mayor's office prior to the 'dead head' runs offering several hundred seats. I have not seen any statement from Amtrak themselves that even mention FEMA. Probably because prior to the storm hitting, evacuations are 100% a local responsibility (city and state) and they would have no real reason to talk to them.

2)The Homeland Security that ordered the Red Cross not to enter was the STATE Department of Homeland Security, an office fully controlled by the Governor. Look at the Red Cross site directly for the facts of the matter.

3)The navy ship is the USS Bataan. As they've publicly stated the reason they weren't using their hospital beds on ship was because they sent all their medics into the field! Once again look for the facts.

3)Many of the requests not to help (the 500 boat flotilla for example) are due to the dangers inherent in the rescue efforts (and not just from the looters and snipers). Allowing often untrained personnel into a disaster area just creates a larger problem for the real relief workers.

4)Other requests were rejected due to the fact that the locals in charge were not requesting the additional help in those particular areas. FEMA is just an administrative tool to help the local governments manage their disaster relief efforts. If they ask them if they need more X and the locals say no, then they simply tell the people offering, no thank you. This is often caused by either poor communication between various local and federal departments (parish Y may need X but they haven't told anyone) or the fact that they have too much on their plate already and while the additional X may be useful, it could not be actually put into use until they can get their ducks in a row, so to speak.

5)Aaron Broussard, Jefferson Parish president, the source for several of your FEMA bashing stories, has already been caught straight out lying to make the Federal response look bad (unless you think his Emergency Manager can talk to his mother for up to 6 days after she died). I'll let you look it up.

And that's just from a quick scan of your headlines. I couldn't have made my point about media bias any better than you just did.

Many, if not most of your headlines (I can't say all because I haven't look up every one of them) can be easily explained by:

1)the MSM's tendency to substitute FEMA when talking about any government response to a disaster (Amtrak),

2)the confusion over State vs, Federal Depts of Homeland Security,

3)journalists trusting untrustworthy sources,

4)journalists failing to even attempt to ask "Why?" something was done but instead of focusing on the action instead. In other words, failing to actually do their jobs. "Why were the beds left empty, Captain?"

5)The MSM's tendency to trust themselves as their own sources. If CNN reported it it must be true, therefore we don't have to look into it ourselves.

Just look at The Daily Howler's breakdown of the Convention Center Crisis (second half of the article) and who knew what and when for a perfect example of how well the media gets things right.

Next time, try doing a least a little bit of research into the stories on your own instead of simply grabbing single articles. Although how you have documentation to back up already publicly debunked claims would be interesting to see. And no, having 5 people all referencing the same article doesn't count as corroboration.

Oh and once again for all those back in the cheap seats, the order of authority in handling a crisis is esssentially this, the municipal government, then the State government then NO ONE. FEMA only has whatever powers the Governor allows them to have. In this case the governor thought she could handle things herself and failed to transfer any real authority over to the FEMA respresentative on the scene. There are even cases where she held emergency reponse meetings without even inviting a FEMA rep to attend. I suppose that was Brown's fault for not assigning someone to do nothing but shadow the governor just in case she decided to hold one of these 'secret' meetings he didn't even know were happening.

September 15, 2005 9:12 a.m.  

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