Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina cont'd: Eric Boehlert and Celine Dion weigh in

Boehlert, from "Katrina Jolts the Press":

It's hard to decide which is more troubling: that it took the national press corps five years to summon up enough courage to report, without apology, that what the Bush administration says and does are often two different things, or that it took the sight of bodies floating facedown in the streets of New Orleans to trigger a change in the press's behavior.

Think about it. It took the worst U.S. natural disaster in a century -- with a Civil War-like refugee crisis and undiluted chaos throughout New Orleans -- for the mainstream press to conquer, at least temporarily, its collective fear of offending Republicans and the White House and its trepidation toward the angry army of press haters complaining about liberal bias and report what it believed was the truth.

The consensus among observers of this press phenomenon is that
reporters in the besieged city experienced such a huge disconnect between what they were seeing up close and what they were hearing from relief officials (e.g., Brown's early assertion that the federal relief effort was "going relatively well") that they couldn't help boiling over on the air. No doubt that's true. But for how many months (years?) have reporters in Iraq been witnessing the disconnect... about Iraq appeared on TV screens? One answer: There's a powerful conservative push-back against the press when it hits hard on Iraq -- which so far has not occurred regarding Katrina.

What's more, as observers have noted, the flashes of media anger over Katrina began to flare up only late last week, several days after the storm hit. Indeed, the media was initially in its patented hands-off crouch when faced with the possibility of criticizing the Bush administration. If the New Orleans levees had held and Katrina had killed only a dozen or two poor people and made a mess of the Southern city, and the administration had responded with the same type of lackluster relief, odds are the press would have issued the White House yet another free pass.

Celine Dion, from Imdb:

the Canadian singer ..." launched a scathing attack on US President George W. Bush's Iraq policy, while criticizing his country's slow response to the southern states devastated by last week's Hurricane Katrina. Dion, who has donated $1 million to victims of the storm, grew visibly emotional as she told of her frustration watching tens of thousands of survivors wait days for aid on CNN's Larry King Live show on Saturday. The hitmaker fumed, "I open (sic) the television, there's people still there, waiting to be rescued, and for me it's not acceptable. I know there's reasons for it, I'm sorry to say, I'm being rude, but I don't want to hear those reasons." Dion criticized authorities for arresting looters in New Orleans, Louisiana, saying they should make rescuing the stranded victims a priority. She said, "Oh, they're stealing 20 pair of jeans or they're stealing television sets. Who cares? They're not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of the people who do that they're so poor they've never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once." Dion referred to Bush's controversial war in Iraq, saying, "How come it's so easy to send planes in another country to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives? We need to be there right now to rescue the rest of the people."

When Boehlert writes: "One answer: There's a powerful conservative push-back against the press when it hits hard on Iraq -- which so far has not occurred regarding Katrina." he forgets the other answer-- in the same way that the events at the Khadmyia bridge have been forgotten, which is understandable to a degree, in light of what happened when Katrina hit, but surely they were no less important than Rehnquist passing away? That got covered, and everyone knew he was dying.