Day By Day

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Lies of the Media -- A Revisionist View of Katrina

It's an election season and this probably won't make much difference to the Bush haters, but as Lou Dolinar notes, the story of Katrina could easily have been presented by the press as a triumphant response rather than a disaster. A lot of really, really good things happened. Tens of thousands of lives were saved. Some excerpts:
Largely ignored by the agenda-driven national media, one of the largest rescue operations in history saved more than 50,000 people by boat and helicopter. In this Dunkirk on the Mississippi, Coast Guard and other military units, volunteers, and state and local first responders delivered thousands from death by drowning, dehydration, heatstroke, fire, starvation, and disease....

What audiences across the country saw as a breakdown of relief efforts was in fact a breakdown of media relations. Instead of marveling at the courage and endurance of rescuers, television spread lurid rumors of near-parodic depravity: gang violence (with AK-47s!), murder (200 slain, stacked, and frozen!), rape (women, children, babies!), sniping at helicopters, and rampage at the Superdome. Mainstream publications have since shown these reports to be false; since most of what the media did report was dead wrong, no one should be surprised that there was a parallel failure to report what went right.

On this score, the biggest lie — worse than the urban legends haunting the Superdome — was that help was slow to arrive. Rescuers say that on Monday, when the levees failed and water surged through the city, they saved thousands who were in danger of drowning — and that they simply could not have arrived any sooner. Not enough resources? Admiral Duncan says one of his biggest problems was that so many helicopters were operating, they risked crashing into one another....

[A] poll of survivors who relocated to Houston after staying through the storm, said 40 percent — roughly 40,000 to 50,000 people, if the sample is representative — reported that they had been rescued by the Coast Guard, Air National Guard units, or local police and firemen in boats....

By Wednesday, August 31, as the media screamed for troops to deal with the over-hyped breakdown in public order, more than 100 helicopters were flying rescue missions. Air traffic was so heavy that one pilot said the city looked like a hornets’ nest. Another, flying at night, compared helicopter ops to swarming fireflies. By the end of the week, crews had virtually run out of victims, and were shifting operations to dropping sandbags, evacuating the city, and assisting door-to-door searches by boat crews....

[T]he narrative of Katrina needs wholesale revision, and mainstream news organizations are starting to work on it. There were not 200 murders at the Superdome; there appear to have been exactly zero. Local authorities did not lose control there or at the Convention Center. The more than 30,000 residents at emergency shelters during the first week of Katrina were tired, hungry, miserable, and without proper sanitary facilities — but were in no danger of dying. As for the rest of the city, help was rarely late, delayed, or inadequate. That’s the true story — and there are tens of thousands of rescued people who will testify to it.
Read the whole thing here.

To some extent the early inaccuracies of the media coverage could be ascribed to poor communications, but the stubborn refusal of major media organizations like CNN and the "Paper of Record" to correct the erroneous first impressions created by their coverage verges on systematic dishonesty. The MSM have created and knowingly sustained a false impression of what went on during the Katrina disaster. It is pure obloquy and deserves our utter contempt.


Popular Mechanics has published a collection of "Katrina Myths." Check them out here.

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