Monday, September 12, 2005


Forget FEMA - how late was the media

posted by Rob at 3:07 PM

One of the themes repeated ad naseum the past several days centers on how clueless the federal government was with regard to the scene in New Orleans. The other theme is how, like a George Lucas movie, the media finally "strikes back."

Since the media control how a story is framed and told no matter how true the "facts" - such as the situation at the convention center - expect to hear little about how slow the MSM was to the actual news that New Orleans was flooded.

Let's go to the Wall Street Journal (emphasis mine):
The New Orleans office of the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at 8:14 a.m. Monday, saying "a levee breach occurred along the industrial canal at Tennessee Street. 3 to 8 feet of water is expected due to the breach." The media largely ignored it. ...

Introducing "World News Tonight" on Aug. 29, anchor Charles Gibson said: "In New Orleans, entire neighborhoods are underwater, but the levees held. The nightmare scenario of an entire city underwater did not happen." A spokeswoman for ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., had no comment. ...

"But the city managed to avoid the worst of the worst," read a front-page Washington Post article on Tuesday. "The Mississippi River did not breach New Orleans's famed levees to any serious degree, at least in part because Katrina veered 15 miles eastward of its predicted track just before landfall."

Leonard Downie Jr., the Washington Post's executive editor, says the paper's reporting was hampered by communications problems caused by the hurricane. ...

It wasn't until Monday evening that a private helicopter company, Helinet Helicopter Services of Los Angeles, began feeding the first aerial images of New Orleans to Fox News, ABC, NBC, CNN and CBS. By early Tuesday morning, most major media had become aware of the awful extent of the destruction.

In other words, it took the mighty MSM - which had every Brian, Bob, Charles, Shep and Anderson "live" on the scene - roughly 24 hours to report on a major city being flooded.

On the web, CNN.com had a story up at 1:52 a.m. Tuesday which focused primarily on destruction in Mississippi. It is reported well down in the story some flooding in New Orleans.

Here's a report on MSNBC posted at 10:01 Monday night. The headline - "Hurricane Katrina plows into Louisiana, spares New Orleans its full fury."

The first sentence - "Hurricane Katrina was not the apocalyptic storm that New Orleans has been dreading all these years."

Interesting to note this paragraph in the article:

The federal government began rushing baby formula, communications equipment, generators, water and ice into hard-hit areas, along with doctors, nurses and first-aid supplies. The Pentagon sent experts to help with search-and-rescue operations.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt - whose radio show I used to be able to *just* get here in Boone - has more on problem's with the media's current Katrina template.