Saturday, August 19, 2006

Katrina And The Media has an article by Lorie Bird which, as we're approaching the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, grades the media for its performance in covering the storm and its aftermath. Summing it up, she flunks the mainstream media, and so do I. Katrina is where the MSM lost me completely. I gave up on most newspapers and local broadcast stations long ago, because of their blatant biases and agendas, but I had always watched cable news for major breaking news events--generally Fox News since they seemed the most balanced--not perfect, but making an effort to show more than one side of a given story. 9/11 had me watching TV for three days straight, and Katrina also kept me watching, and praying for the people in her path. What I saw over the days of coverage made me truly frustrated, however, not because of the storm, but because of the inaccurate and hysterical reporting, and I haven't been able to trust any of the major media sources since.

What I saw was hyperbole and premature (and thus inaccurate) blame. This hyperbole endangered people, causing the delay of rescue efforts, by shifting the focus of emergency responders off of rescuing victims and placing it on non-existent sniper threats and gang violence. What I saw was the media blaming the federal government for not being there quickly enough, when what was occurring was the fastest disaster relief effort in U.S. history. What I saw was almost instant accusations of racial discrimination, because black people were suffering from the resulting chaos after the levy breach in New Orleans, when most of the population of NO was black--how could they not be affected? Add to that the fact it was the black Mayor of New Orleans who failed to utilize the resources at his disposal to evacuate the residents (everybody remembers those buses), and that many of those who got out left because of proactive federal government pressure on the local authorities to call the evacuation in the first place. Exactly where was the racism? (The American Thinker put out an article in September of 2005, that deals very thoroughly with the issues of race and Katrina. It's quite informative, even for early information.) In a more specific example of misplaced media blame, I remember watching in amazement as an ABC reporter tried to get victims to blame the President for the disaster, after his speech to the nation post-hurricane. The part of that scene that was actually very gratifying was watching the mostly black interviewees refusing to go along with the reporter's leading, and him seeming more and more befuddled. It was priceless. (Follow the link and watch the video. It's hilarious in a sickening kind of way.) Don't even get me started on the Superdome and the mass murders and rapes that didn't happen there.

Bird's article points out that many of the mistakes the media made in the thick of the storm are still the tale they're telling today. Why would they correct themselves? The fact that all this misinformation is still the official media line is not surprising, but it is darned aggravating. At this point I get most of my news online. It may not always be accurate, but it's a whole lot easier to check sources, and the centrist portion of the blogosphere has a pretty solid self-regulating mechanism, which filters out the fact from the fiction before the fiction becomes unchangeable holy writ.

Hat tip: Mary Katherine Ham--Guestblogging at Michelle Malkin

Update: Here's an article that ran soon after the storm that looks at what went wrong with the media and local government, and right with the rescue effort, from Homeland Security on down to the local Fire Department. The rescue effort was really impressive. (via Instapundit)