"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
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Many of the "mere commenters" over at Roger L. Simon's blog are better writers than "journalists". Here's a good one: