Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Great Comment

Many of the "mere commenters" over at Roger L. Simon's blog are better writers than "journalists". Here's a good one:

"It is the media too that fanned the flames of partisanship here, looking to assign blame before anyone could possibly understand what was happening. They are an increasingly reactionary force in our society, driving people toward partisan reactions and further and further from the ability to reason with each other. People like Nancy Pelosi, screeching for the head of the President during a natural disaster, are essentially creatures of the media. They are nothing more. "

There you have it Roger. In one short paragraph. The whole sad sorry story.

When the mayor and governor effectively disappeared, the only story was the Superdome and tapes of looting. They stopped running the boring pictures of Mississippi and Alabama. That was the same old stuff from Florida last year. Not much mileage in wind and water and collapsed houses and casinos.

The vacuum created by the absence of local authority was soon filled with the reporters crowding into the small area with the unfortunate refugees (yes I said refugees). And those pictures of human anguish and fear and panic were indeed heartwrenching. And then the rumors from inside the building started. And the reporters on the scene repeated the rumors and repeated them and the rumors became facts. I do not mean to say that no one was raped inside or that hoodlums did not shoot and kill innocents or that many bad things had happened. Soon, we may know all the facts, but last week the reporters on the scene gradually took on the character of the people they were reporting on. Shep Smith, Cooper, Geraldo, all became shriller and more emotional as the hours and days dragged by. "Someone has to do something. This is horrible. Why aren't THEY doing anything?" And the viewers like you and me, we too got swept up. And THEY became the President and THEY became FEMA.. FEMA FEMA FEMA FEMA. What did FEMA do wrong? Yes, we have this horrible situation here and someone, some group must be at fault. And the chorus grew louder. FEMA FEMA FEMA. BUSH BUSH BUSH. "Do something"

And what is it that we didn't see? We didn't see hundreds or thousands of men and women working. The people behind the logistics. The military arriving at the airport and finding it wasn't operable. No radar. No air control. We didn't see the people surveying the damage. The pipeline of equipment flowing in to open the airport. The aircraft standing by elsewhere to take off as soon as they had a place to land. We didn't see the engineers working to evaluate the break in the storm wall. The meetings to decide how best to repair them to stop the flow of water. The logistics of putting that effort together. The electric people and the water pump people and telephone people, all working round the clock to bring help. We never saw that story. All we saw were the victims and their apparent unaswered pleas, echoed and amplified by the media, the talking heads, the profound anchors pontificating about things they knew little about.

And then miraculously help was there. The Merlin in the White House had heard the pleas and came out of his oblivion and waved his magic wand and help appeared. There was General Honore taking charge and helicopters arrived and the people were saved. Yes, saved by the media. Without their cries they never would have gotten the help they needed, the help that was not there. FEMA FEMA FEMA. The media was self congratulatory. Their coverage has stirred THEM to act.

Does anyone yet know what FEMA didn't do right? Have we ever been told exactly what FEMA was supposed to do? I do not want to defend any government agency. We all have our own experiences dealing with bureaucrats. But I sure would like to know the major failings last week. And not the nitpicking.

What benchmarks will be used to measure the response of all those who were responsible. What was reasonable to expect and how well did all of the responders perform? It will take a long time to sort all that out. In the meanwhile, the myths created last week will live on.

and as Roger so well put it

"It is the media too that fanned the flames of partisanship here, looking to assign blame before anyone could possibly understand what was happening. They are an increasingly reactionary force in our society, driving people toward partisan reactions and further and further from the ability to reason with each other. People like Nancy Pelosi, screeching for the head of the President during a natural disaster, are essentially creatures of the media. They are nothing more."

Posted by: TedM at September 12, 2005 11:53 AM

3 comments:

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Superb. Great heads up.

Ghost Dansing said...

Now that Dubya has admitted fault in the Katrina episode, everybody can admit what some knew all along. Dubya and his Republican administration are at fault, for this, and many things due to their backward and misguided political philosophy and public policy.

What does he mean? One might ask.

Well;

Dubya and his administration was able to respond at all because more conscientious and prudent administrations before him maintained policies of good governance.

This Republican adminstration was busy eroding all of the resources required to enable responsive government in order to give tax breaks to the rich and break Federal and State Governments according to a corporatist, anti-government ideology.

For example, April 2001: Budget Director Mitch Daniels announces the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of FEMA's work. In May, Joe Allbaugh, one of Dubya's cronys from texas and then Head of FEMA, confirms that FEMA will be downsized.

Joe said: "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program...." he said. "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."

Well there 'ya have it. The Republican failure is a result of Republican policy decisions.

And how about this?

June 2004: The Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New Orleans is slashed. Jefferson Parish emergency management chiefs Walter Maestri comments: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."

Add to this good ole Republican incompetence (plainly demonstrated in Iraq) and we have a nation struggling with the consequences of widespread devastation and death even as new stories continue to emerge about the federal government's various failures - relief supplies sent to non-existent staging posts, resources pumped into Texas and the Carolinas but not into Louisiana or Mississippi, families split up and flown to different parts of the country, in some cases without any advance knowledge of where the evacuees were being taken, and on and on.

Anonymous said...

Ghost Dansing, SHUT THE FUCK UP! It's people like Slick Willy and you who worship him that are at fault! ASSHOLE!