Katrina: US TV Swings From Deference to Outrage Towards Government

AFP News offers a little round up of “combative interviews and scathing commentary” against “government officials” in the wake of the Katrina disaster.

As the scale of carnage became clear and the government was seen as tardy in its response, TV news anchors and reporters dropped their dispassionate reserve in favour of stinging comments straight from the heart.


There’s some insight from Media expert Peter Levine, of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland on the change of tone from some of the MSM. Levine noted, “the shift in stance of American television was a return to normal following four years of toeing the government line following the September 11 attacks.”

“After 9/11 those who publicly dissented from support of the president and the government were rounded on from all sides,” he told AFP.

“The political calculation of (opposition) Democratic politicans was that it was best to support the president and so no one wanted to be seen dissenting, giving the media little to base any criticism on,” he said.

But with local officials, including Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin openly slamming the government response to the New Orleans catastrophe, usually reserved media feel free to do the same, he said.

Added to that, the horror played out on live television belied the government’s claims that its preparations for the storm and subsequent rescue effort had been sufficient.

“(Television stations) have people on the ground and are seeing a huge difference between what they are being told by officials and what they are actually seeing,” Levine said.

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10 Responses to Katrina: US TV Swings From Deference to Outrage Towards Government

  1. Ginny in CO says:

    Gee, O’Reilly hasn’t gotten the news. He was insisting that he had read the government reports and there was no mention of the break in the levees. Gosh, Bill, maybe you should read the Times-Picayune article. They didn’t just talk to scientists, they reported what they had been told quite accurately,
    The Bush administration does not like scientists. They are like those old Roman messengers. Except BushCo can’t killl them. They think that hitting the DELETE button will take care of the problem,

    Remember those ads that said “You can’t fool Mother Nature” ?

    And that great quote: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, ….”

    I am starting to think Katrina may have smashed his hold on some of the people.
    May the media continue to speak their conscience, we should start praising them.

  2. Ginny

    “Don’t mess with Mother Nature” aka the great Mother Goddess. It’s a concept that crowd doesn’t get. Off to bed…

  3. Teresa says:

    Night, Pamela. Thanks for all your energy.

  4. kj says:

    Good morning, all. Anyone know when Dr. Ron will be back from vacation?

  5. Ron Chusid says:

    “He was insisting that he had read the government reports and there was no mention of the break in the levees. ”

    Was he talking about what occured after Katrina went through or the pre-storm predictions?

    He might be playing games here. Some of the pre-hurricaine predications called for massive flooding as we saw due to water leaking over the levies (as opposed to actual breaks). Bush apologists can claim there were not warnings of a break in the levees, but there were warnings of the flooding and of the most important aspects of the scenario which occured before it happened.

    Ultimately I hope people tie this together in evaluating Bush’s incompetence. Bush had warnings which required action both before 9/11 and before Katrina. He ignored the warnings in each case. While Bush could not have stopped the flooding, he certainly could have been better prepared with rescue efforts. Generally Presidents receive an upward bump in approval after a disaster, but polls so far look pretty flat. This could lead to a further drop. (It is also possilble Bush’s support is already near as low as it could go as there are many who will back a Republican President no matter what).

  6. Marjorie G says:

    The apologia for news is that had the Dems only offered opposition, they would have informed. I say no. John Kerry opposed the run-up to the war, and media wasn’t there. Or along the campaign trail. All were too eager for hand-outs due to laziness or orders to bring home Bush II.

    The diversion of funds from levee construction to homeland security, as one big pork barrel for red states or Iraq support, caused what we have now. Appointments based on Bush loyalty, not on preparedness, fill a long list. Media are starting to pay attention. Thankfully.

  7. Ron Chusid says:

    Here’s a good example of those who will support the Republican President even if realizing he screwed up:

    “I think the Clinton administration would have done a better job in handling Hurricane Katrina, but I’m also glad Bush is president and not a Democrat.”
    –Bill Kristol

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/06/politics/politicsspecial1/06assess.html

  8. kj says:

    As Jon Stewart would say, “whaaaaaat?”

  9. Publius says:

    The Hunt for Accountability

    Much has been written about the hurricane and the horrific aftermath of the storm. As I examine the news coverage and see the endless quagmire of human misery and suffering right here inside our own borders, I ask the following question: “What is our own government accountable for today?”

    Since 9/11, we have demanded foreign governments be accountable for weapons proliferation, WMD, and harboring terrorists inside their borders. The new policy of pre-emption provides sanctions for nations who do not adhere to these rules. What is our own government accountable for today?

    In 2004, President George W. Bush ran a successful campaign based on national security. Presumably he meant security from both foreign and domestic threats including natural disasters. The President made his case to the American people that he has made this nation more secure since 9/11. President Bush also made the case that he will make America safer if he was re-elected. What is our own government accountable for today?

    Since 9/11, Congress re-authorized the Patriot Act, reformed the intelligence services, and oversaw the appropriations process for the new Department of Homeland Security (and authorized President Bush’s systematic under funding of FEMA). Individual members of Congress claimed that they helped make America more secure. What is our own government accountable for today?

    Reasonable people can and should disagree about the role of government in our society. I applaud this debate. Yet, in times of national crisis and emergency, the President of the United States is charged with leadership. This role is enshrined in all that we hold dear. He is Commander in Chief and Consoler in Chief. He cannot abdicate this piece of his job description.

    “The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of state governments, in times of peace and security.” –Publius (Federalist #45)

    What is our own government accountable for today? One party controls both the legislative and executive branches of government. The failure to provide security, law + order, protection against anarchy, and relief from this disaster is a failure of the highest order. Government has no more important role. Employees are fired for much less.

    Limited Government does not imply incompetent government. Americans should have high expectations for our public servants and for our public institutions. Inept leadership, such as blaming bureaucracy, or federalism, should not be tolerated. It is time for a performance review.

    “A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.” — Publius (Federalist #70)

    What is our government accountable for today?

  10. Ginny in CO says:

    I had the distinct impression they are accountable for the increasing wealth of the undeserving rich…

    Excellent, Publius. Thanks!