Katrina Report

The House is set to release a blistering report about the response to Hurricane Katrina, and I just wanted to share with you an example of the kind of thing that makes many Republicans think the media is aligned against them. Check out this from the NY Times:

Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Administration Response By ERIC LIPTON

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — House Republicans plan to issue a blistering report on Wednesday that says the Bush administration delayed the evacuation of thousands of New Orleans residents by failing to act quickly on early reports that the levees had broken during Hurricane Katrina.

That delay was significant, the report says, rejecting the defense given by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security that the time it took to recognize the breach did not significantly affect the response.

“If the levees breached and flooded a large portion of the city, then the flooded city would have to be completely evacuated,” the draft report says. “Any delay in confirming the breaches would result in a delay in the post-landfall evacuation of the city.” It adds that the White House itself discounted damage reports that later proved true.

The report, by the select House committee examining the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, is the first of three major investigations into the subject; the others, for which reports are expected within one or two months, are being conducted by a Senate committee and by the White House.

The House report blames all levels of government, from the White House to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana to Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans, for the delayed response to the storm.

We don’t have the whole report, but the author of this story and the editors who wrote the headline chose to focus solely on the administration, rather than acknowledging that the report blamed all levels of government. The title could just as easily have been “Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Mayor Nagin’s Response.” But it wasn’t, was it?

And before the flaming starts from the usual suspects, I really don’t care- I think this is par for the course for the media- sensational headlines. It is sexy to have a headline that says even the Republicans are blaming the Bush administration, and that was the hook. Much sexier than “All Levels of Government Responded Poorly to Katrina,” which is something we all already know. So I understand why it is happening, but I am trying to explain to you why certain people look at the media and think they are out to get them.






56 replies
  1. 1

    At least you are smart enough to realize it’s all about sensationalist headlines. Though I really don’t understand your need to offer up an apologist post for the retards who think the media is concerned with something other than the color green…

  2. 2
    John Cole says:

    Umm, DEV.

    So I understand why it is happening, but I am trying to explain to you why certain people look at the media and think they are out to get them.

  3. 3
    SeesThroughIt says:

    It is sexy to have a headline that says even the Republicans are blaming the Bush administration, and that was the hook.

    It’s also more noteworthy. Republicans blame Democrats…that’s a day like any other. Republicans lambaste Republicans…now that’s something you’ve barely heard for the past five years.

    All the same, your point about “why certain people look at the media and think they are out to get them” is well-taken. But it’s also worth pointing out that most of the time, it’s just a preconceived notion, and a false one at that. Like, for various reasons, Republicans need to believe that the media is horribly slanted against them. So they start with that “truth,” and then work backward to find “evidence” of it, and they end up using things like this as examples of how the dirty, evil, rotten, evil, liberal, evil media’s sole function is to get Republicans at all costs.

  4. 4
    Pb says:

    Blame the editor, they write the headlines. Then again, I think that “Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Administration Response” really is the newsworthy portion of this story. If it had been “Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Mayor Nagin’s Response”, that wouldn’t have been news at all–been there, done that. Heck, I watched Anderson Cooper attack Nagin too, not that long ago–must have been a slow news day. Anyhow, John, when it comes to headlines, remember that “man bites dog” sells the papers, not “dog bites man”.

  5. 5
    Krista says:

    I can see your point. However, have the neocons not been claiming for an awfully long time now that the “liberal media” is against them, even at a time when the case was blatantly the opposite? Even if this particular news item is slanted against this administration, neocons and pundits have been crying “wolf” about the evil liberal media for far too long for anybody to really believe it anymore.

  6. 6
    Blue Neponset says:

    It is sexy to have a headline that says even the Republicans are blaming the Bush administration, and that was the hook.

    Did you read the link John?

    Democrats declined to appoint members to the committee, raising concerns that the group would produce a whitewash, though several House Democrats participated in committee discussions. After the Republican report was prepared, Democrats praised it in a written response for being comprehensive and detailed, though they complained that it did not hold enough individual officials accountable and continued their call for an independent commission.

    No Democrats were on the committee that issued the report. That is why the headline reads: “Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Administration Response.”

  7. 7
    ppGaz says:

    which is something we all already know

    True. And said, here, months ago. You, me, and a bunch o’people.

    But I think the only rational response to all this bad government is just to vote Libertarian, don’t you?

    Because making a statement is always a good idea at election time.

    Reporting from Nader headquarters ……ppGaz for Ballon-Juice.

  8. 8
    Steve says:

    No one could forget the endless repetitions of “there will be plenty of time to play the blame game later” by everyone who was to blame. Even non-syncophants like John Cole went along with the idea that there would be plenty of time to sort it out later, one shouldn’t policitize the issue while people are still suffering, etc. And now that the White House has successfully kicked the can down the road…

    A White House spokesman said that President Bush was now focused on the future, not the past.

    This really sums up my liberal frustration perfectly. See, I accept that people fuck up, but ordinarily you like to see SOME sign that folks learn from their mistakes and it will be better last time. With these guys, whether it’s trying to stonewall the 9/11 commission, dismissing every inquiry into pre-war intelligence as “old news,” or claiming that analyzing the root causes of an incompetent hurricane response would be “focusing on the past,” you never see any sign that the Bush Administration cares at all about getting things right. It’s been five years of constant damage control.

  9. 9

    I agree it’s a sensationalist headline.

    Blaming the local police and firefighters for not doing enough doesn’t really sit well with me, since they were victims of the hurricaine as well. If you don’t understand that, then you haven’t been listening to some of their stories.

    I think when a local authority shouts out for help, it’s the job of the higher authorities to come help. The problem here is one of a culture where politics trumps reality. Where the appearance of action can divert attention from the reality of inaction. This Machiavellian view of the world is just bullshit.

    So I don’t care to play your little blame game. I expect FEMA to be fixed.

  10. 10
    Pooh says:

    Also worth noting that the Feds are the biggest fish in the fryer here, so naturally they get the headline.

  11. 11
    fwiffo says:

    As much as anything, it’s the media’s preference to focus on federal rather than local government. It doesn’t matter which party is in power. The president is a national figure that everyone knows about. Before Katrina, 90+% of Americans outside of Louisiana have never heard of Blanco or Nagin. If you’re not right there, Nagin or Blanco being incompetent really isn’t news. Bush – well, it’s not news that he’s incompetent, but it is news that somebody’s actually pointing it out in a formal way.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Fantastic post, Steve.

  14. 14
    SmilingPolitely says:

    Republicans don’t really care if the news is biased; they just care when the bias doesn’t favor them. If every channel was Fox news and every paper was the Washington Times, you wouldn’t hear a peep out of them.

  15. 15
    Sock Puppet says:

    And not only that John, but I didn’t see one single reference to any of the many prayer meetings held by GOP members of Congress on behalf of the victims of Katrina.

    Not a one. The New York Times hates God.

  16. 16
    Ancient Purple says:

    The House is set to release a blistering report about the response to Hurricane Katrina, and I just wanted to share with you an example of the kind of thing that makes many Republicans think the media is aligned against them.

    So, you’re all honked off about a headline?

    I’ll trade you for this entire story, courtesy of our “liberal” media.

  17. 17

    Umm, DEV.

    Yea, like I said, you’re apologizing for them.

  18. 18
    John Cole says:

    Wow. Learn something every day. Apparently if you are bitter, ‘explaining’ and ‘apologizing’ are the same thing.

  19. 19
    Marcus Wellby says:

    Apparently if you are bitter, ‘explaining’ and ‘apologizing’ are the same thing.

    ..or my wife…

  20. 20
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    I think you have to look at it this way:

    1) The New York Times wants to sell papers.
    2) The Bush administration is only slightly more popular in New York than nose polyps.
    3) Publishing a story knocking the Bush admin’s response to Katrina is giving ther people what they want.

    Since when does the New York Times owe the Bushies anything?

  21. 21
    Doug says:

    I just wonder how many medals the President will have to give out in response to the Katrina failures.

  22. 22
    ppGaz says:

    And now that the White House has successfully kicked the can down the road…

    Yes, well stated. The White House has one and only one agenda here …. to avoid responsibility for anything it cannot use to its political advantage.

    “Time later for the blame game” followed by “the future, and not the past.”

    Not even Satan himself could do a better job of lying and weaseling his way out of accountability.

    You didn’t really expect Balloon-Juice to be anything but a house organ for this crap, did you?

    but I am trying to explain to you why certain people look at the media and think they are out to get them.

    Yeaaaahhh, that’s what we really need in Feb 2006, folks. Eplaining why certain people think the media are out to get them. Rome burns, and we are here chatting about the Op-Ed page in the daily rag. Only in Blogamerica.

  23. 23
    SmilingPolitely says:

    What newspaper did that uber-liberal bitch, Judith Miller, work for again?

  24. 24
    ppGaz says:

    Since when does the New York Times owe the Bushies anything?

    Well, what about those swell scoops on the WMD story back in 2002 and 2003? And the inside info on that traitor, Joe Wilson?

    Time to call in those chips, eh?

  25. 25
    Mr Furious says:

    The title could just as easily have been “Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Mayor Nagin’s Response.” But it wasn’t, was it?

    As has been noted above, that’s the newsworthy part of the story John. the fact that it isn’t a partisan whitewash is noteworthy…though I understand your point.

  26. 26
    Andrei says:

    We don’t have the whole report, but the author of this story and the editors who wrote the headline chose to focus solely on the administration, rather than acknowledging that the report blamed all levels of government.

    As if this doesn’t occur on all levels to everyone in politics. Unless of course the Swift Boats and the more recent articles linking Dems to the Abramoff scandal don’t count.

    So I understand why it is happening, but I am trying to explain to you why certain people look at the media and think they are out to get them.

    Certain people think the media is out to get them because they are childish, selfish or have something to gain from the perception the media is biased. It has nothing to do with any real point in reality, and is generaly an issue that is the problem of those who think with their heart rather than with their brain. Or those who serve to gain financially from the public perception as such.

    However, outside of that issue, you can either coddle your fellow faux-conservatives by holding their hands in sympathy like the way some pussy liberal would do, or you can tell them to suck it up and remember they control all aspects of government right now and maybe they should care more about real results than what the media says about those results.

    I mean really… who cares? Who really cares what the headlines say? Your party won the freakin’ election and is currently in charge. So the media is somewhat unfair in their characterization of the situation… Boo fucking hoo.

  27. 27
    Mac Buckets says:

    Since when does the New York Times owe the Bushies anything?

    Since when? Since Bush grants those lefty, terrorist-lovers the freedom of the press out of the goodness of his heart. He doesn’t have to let them publish that Bush-hater rag, you know. I’m just saying…

  28. 28
    Vladi G says:

    John, you’re completely missing the story here. As others have said above, the story isn’t that the House is reporting on its Katrina investigation. Big deal, that’s not news. What’s news is that Republican congresspersons are actually blaming Republicans in the White House for something. THAT’S the story.

  29. 29
    capelza says:

    Mac Buckets Says:

    Since when does the New York Times owe the Bushies anything?

    Since when? Since Bush grants those lefty, terrorist-lovers the freedom of the press out of the goodness of his heart. He doesn’t have to let them publish that Bush-hater rag, you know. I’m just saying…

    Are you serious? Or just channeling DougJ….

  30. 30
    John Cole says:

    PPGAZ- I have had about enough of you. Between your creepy sexist tete-a-tetes with SCS, which I have asked you to stop and you have ignored, and your nonstop assertions of bad faith and questioning of my motives, as well as telling everyone “what I really” mean, I am just sick of your trolling.

  31. 31
    Pb says:

    John Cole,

    Wow, what prompted that? I think you’re projecting again. Last I saw, you were telling ppGaz what he really meant–and apparently you’re doing it again, for no reason that I can see here. And if you’re sick of anyone’s trolling, IMO it should be scs’s–she totally lost it last night, and it was sad to watch. The woman’s so daft, she can’t even distinguish me from DougJ, let alone rub two facts together. However, as always, this is your blog, so if you want the crazies running the insane asylum, you can do that.

  32. 32
    John Cole says:

    Umm, this:

    Not even Satan himself could do a better job of lying and weaseling his way out of accountability.

    You didn’t really expect Balloon-Juice to be anything but a house organ for this crap, did you?

    I get sick and tired of being told I am a mouthpiece for this administration, a group of people I can not stand.

  33. 33
    Steve says:

    John is obviously not a mouthpiece for the administration, you fools. Everyone knows he is a mouthpiece for Pajamas Media.

  34. 34
    ppGaz says:

    PPGAZ- I have had about enough of you. Between your creepy sexist tete-a-tetes with SCS, which I have asked you to stop and you have ignored, and your nonstop assertions of bad faith and questioning of my motives, as well as telling everyone “what I really” mean, I am just sick of your trolling.

    WTF is that? Creepy, sexist? It’s a flame war with some idiotic little girl, John. She’s an embarassment, a liar, and a troll. I’m not taking any crap from her.

    As for you, you are notoriously unable to put up with any criticism. Last month it was Paddy who was the target of your phony wrath. Before that, someone else.

    You know what? I am the lefty around here who supports your causes most often. I don’t call you vile names. Every fucking time you ask for donations I send you money and never get a fucking thank you.

    I think you’re way over the line here, seriously. I think you need to take some time off and stop calling everyone who disagrees with you “stupid”, “idiotic” and “clueless.” Stop swearing at people and then chiding them for their language later. Stop playing the “Yes I am … no I’m not” game with the politics around here, happily taking the traffic and the page views and then acting like you are above it all.

    You fucking sat there and let Darrell practically call us soldier-haters and didn’t say a goddamned word, but somebody calls that little lying shit scs on her crap and you are suddenly protective? And I’m CREEPY?

    You’re pathetic,man. You owe me a FUCKING APOLOGY.

  35. 35
    Pb says:

    John Cole,

    I get sick and tired of being told I am a mouthpiece for this administration, a group of people I can not stand.

    Well I certainly don’t blame you on that front, and I’ll especially look forward to hearing your criticisms of them on this issue (Katrina)…

  36. 36
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Ballooney fight! Ballooney fight!

    Don’t you just love it when this place melts down?

  37. 37
    ppGaz says:

    John melted down a week ago. The daily berating of anyone who dares criticize him has not produced the desired result … bowing and scraping, I guess.

  38. 38
    Perry Como says:

    on’t you just love it when this place melts down?

    It’s better than watching a Steeler’s game.

  39. 39
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    BTW: Chicken Mac Buckets claiming that Freedom of the Press exists at the sufferance of George W. Bush is about as laughably delusional as it gets.

    As if that faux Texas runt in any way approaches the stature of those who originally incorporated our freedoms into the Constitution.

  40. 40
    ppGaz says:

    I hope the officiating is better.

  41. 41
    ppGaz says:

    Chicken Mac Buckets claiming that Freedom of the Press exists at the sufferance of George W. Bush is about as laughably delusional as it gets.

    He was pulling your leg.

  42. 42
    Mac Buckets says:

    Unless of course the Swift Boats and the more recent articles linking Dems to the Abramoff scandal don’t count.

    There are probably better examples than The Swift Boat Vets, since the NYT stonewalled the reportage of the Swifties’ claims longer than almost anyone (and then the report was on Kerry’s rebuttal).

  43. 43
    Perry Como says:

    There are probably better examples than The Swift Boat Vets, since the NYT stonewalled the reportage of the Swifties’ claims longer than almost anyone

    And they still haven’t reported on Hillary being a lesbian. What are they trying to hide?

  44. 44
    Zifnab says:

    There are probably better examples than The Swift Boat Vets, since the NYT stonewalled the reportage of the Swifties’ claims longer than almost anyone (and then the report was on Kerry’s rebuttal).

    Those evil reporters at the NYT. How dare they fail to follow up on the biggest presidential smear campaign in history? I suppose you’re equally pissed that the New York Post failed to fully explore the charges of Bush going AWOL during his tour of duty… on the boarder of Mexico.

    Some people are so full of shit.

  45. 45
    Pooh says:

    John, in seriousness, remember the Sago story when you told everybody to stop chucking bodies? There would be plenty of time later? Well now it is later (different actual story, but I think you get my meaning), and people would like some accountability. I see your point that the story is focusing more on the federal response but A) That sells papers. B) It’s a U.S. House of Representatives report, and their focus is likely to be more on the feds than the locals.

  46. 46
    Mac Buckets says:

    And they still haven’t reported on Hillary being a lesbian. What are they trying to hide?

    No, I Googled it, and the Times actually did report that, probably to gin up support for her from the NYT’s typical (read, “gay”) reader:

    …Hillary Clinton is a lying, scheming, smelly, left-leaning lesbian and a non-maternal parent who consorts with lawyers who defend mobbed-up unions and bears a striking character resemblance to both Richard Nixon and Madonna, and who tacitly approved of her husband’s rape of a young woman at a time when Mrs. Clinton may or may not have been bathing, washing her hair or shaving her underarms, while hanging out with short-haired women from the sapphic charnel house Wellesley College.

    I do disagree with Queenan that she is “smelly,” as she has always smelled lovely when I’ve seen her.

  47. 47
    Mac Buckets says:

    Those evil reporters at the NYT. How dare they fail to follow up on the biggest presidential smear campaign in history?

    Blame Andrei, not me. At least I knew the NYT didn’t report on the SBVTs.

    Some people are so full of shit.

    Take it easy on him — he just didn’t know.

  48. 48
    Perry Como says:

    No, I Googled it, and the Times actually did report that, probably to gin up support for her from the NYT’s typical (read, “gay”) reader:

    You’re on fire today Mac. In the totally non-gay way, of course.

  49. 49
    Bernard Yomtov says:

    I also think it highly newsworthy that it was an entirely Republican committee that issued this report.

    Imagine a Democratic comittee producing such a report. What would your reaction be? A big yawn.

    “Of course they are criticizing Bush. Who expected otherwise?”

    But when it’s Republicans it’s not just interesting from a political point of view. It also means that the situation was handled so badly that even people who would be strongly inclined to give the Administration the benefit of the doubt have come to very harsh conclusions. That in itself tells you something abotu how bad the response was.

  50. 50

    Wow. Learn something every day. Apparently if you are bitter, ‘explaining’ and ‘apologizing’ are the same thing.

    You are being an apologist for the morons who think there is a “liberal” media.

    Let me demonstrate with an analogy:

    I understand that what Saddam did to the Kurds was wrong, but all I am saying is that I can certainly see why he needed to gas them.

    Compared with yours:

    I understand that this is about sensationalist headlines but all I am saying is that I can certainly see why Republicans do view the media as against them.

    ——–

    Now I certainly am not saying the two situtations are similiar apologies; but both are apologies and you are being an apologist for the “liberal media” retards.

  51. 51
    Mac Buckets says:

    But when it’s Republicans it’s not just interesting from a political point of view. It also means that the situation was handled so badly that even people who would be strongly inclined to give the Administration the benefit of the doubt have come to very harsh conclusions. That in itself tells you something abotu how bad the response was.

    See, John, headlines aren’t supposed to tell you what the story is about. That’s so 1950’s. Headlines are supposed to tell you more about the unspoken, bigger picture…or at least what the bigger picture would be if you approached it from the oh-so-sophisticated and completely unbiased “Republicans never criticize their own” angle.
    So of course, the left can’t find anything wrong with this headline. They (and NYT readers, I presume) are nuanced enough to get that the real story here is not what happened — the stunning failure of local, state, and national government to keep everyone eternally safe and happy — but that “Republicans bashed Bush!” That’s news, NYT-stylie!

  52. 52
    p.lukasiak says:

    Geez, Cole does his maroon act again….

    the national story isn’t about what mayor Nagin or gov Blanco did wrong….people in NYC, and the Times national audience, don’t give a crap about Nagin and Blanco. What people want to know is whether the Federal Government is up to the task of handling a “national security” disaster four years after 9/11.

    And its not. And that’s a headline.

  53. 53
    Kimmitt says:

    Speaking as someone who doesn’t live in Louisiana, Federal incompetence is of far greater importance to me than Louisianan incompetence. Don’t get me wrong — I’d love to see the Federal Government under a competent President go in and tear the shit out of the festering dungpile which is Louisiana politics. But that has less to do with whether or not I’m going to get killed if a hurricane hits O’ahu than whether or not the Federal Government is going to bother to get around to sending aid at some point.

  54. 54
    BadTux says:

    As someone else mentioned, Mayor Nagin or Kathleen Blanco are not the President of the United States. They are the mayor and governor of the poorest major city and poorest state in the nation. The notion that they might not have the ability or capacity to properly handle a major disaster is Not News(tm). It’s sort of like a “dog bites man” story… if the press covers it, it’ll be in a few lines buried in the back of section B (the section where the one-paragraph police reports summaries live). It’s just not unusual enough to be news.

    The notion that the government of the United States of America, the world’s richest and most powerful nation, may not have the ability or capacity to handle a major disaster *IS* News(tm). This is like a “man bites dog” story — something unexpected, and thus newsworthy. Thus this is where the press is naturally going to focus the majority of their attention — whether said national government is run by Republicans or Democrats.

    In short, it’s not the press that’s biased, it’s the facts. Pesky facts, don’t they know that they’re supposed to properly salute Dear Leader and only be what he wants them to be?!

    – Badtux the Snarky Penguin

  55. 55
    Dan says:

    For an interesting (if brief) take on the Katrina scandal, check out this guy’s blog:

    http://www.progressiveu.org/blog/jarespond

  56. 56
    Gary Farber says:

    “I think this is par for the course for the media- sensational headlines. It is sexy to have a headline that says even the Republicans are blaming the Bush administration, and that was the hook.”

    Your reasoning is, I’m afraid, fallacious, John. The headline isn’t as it is because it’s “sexier” to refer to the Bush administration, or more “sensational.”

    It’s because what Mayor Nagin does affects only people in New Orleans. What Governor Blanco does affects only people in Louisiana.

    What the Bush Administration does affects the entire world.

    It’s that simple. Which is objectively more important, by far?

    So, no, the headline couldn’t possibly sensibly be “Republicans’ Report on Katrina Assails Mayor Nagin’s Response.” That would be missing the lede, and would be an irrational focus on the most unimportant element.

    This has nothing to do with partisanship; the same would be true were the President a Democrat, and the Mayor and Governor Republicans.

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