Jul 21 2006

FEMA a Disaster for Freedom of the Press

Katrina victims 'not allowed' to talk to media, reporter told

(NOTE: Please see the Activism Update regarding this alert.) The Federal Emergency Management Agency prohibits journalists from having unsupervised interviews with Hurricane Katrina victims who have been relocated to FEMA trailer parks, according to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate (7/15/06). “If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview,” FEMA spokesperson Rachel Rodi is quoted in the article. “That’s just a policy.” The Advocate report, by reporter Sandy Davis, describes two separate attempts to talk to people displaced by Katrina that were halted […]

Mar 10 2006

Amitabh Pal on India, Eric Deggans on Hurricane Katrina

Download MP3 George W. Bush traveled to India to secure a deal that would allow that country to develop its nuclear industry—all the while telling countries like Iran that there’s no room to negotiate when it comes to their nuclear plans. How did the press handle the double standard? And what did we learn—and not learn—about India? We’ll talk to Amitabh Pal of the Progressive magazine about all of that. Also this week: Remember the national conversation about institutional racism and class bias we were going to have, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the inequities it exposed? Right. […]

Jan 27 2006

Jordan Flaherty on Katrina reconstruction, Eric Boehlert on the K Street Project

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: New Orleans is back in the news, along with the debates about how the city should be rebuilt; the White House is accused of stonewalling a congressional Katrina investigation and the administration is offering Louisiana a fraction of the dollars the state says it needs for a homeowner bailout. What many of these stories have in common, says our guest, Jordan Flaherty of Left Turn magazine, is the exclusion of the people who will be most effected by the policies. Also on the show: The corrupt Capitol Hill favor-trading operation known as the K […]

Nov 1 2005

‘Saying What They’ve Been Thinking’

Racial stereotypes in Katrina commentary

As columnist Dawn Turner Trice remarked (Chicago Tribune, 9/12/05), Hurricane Katrina “shed a light” on the often unspoken racist assumptions of many Americans. In particular, she noted, many of the elite have, through their comments about the tragedy, “unwittingly reveal[ed] themselves” and their fundamental prejudices. Of course, many pundits attacked the idea that racism had anything to do with Katrina at all. To suggest race affected the response to the hurricane, Reason magazine’s Cathy Young (Boston Globe, 9/12/05) charged, was “irresponsible.” Jeff Jacoby decried in the Boston Globe (9/14/05) the invocation after Katrina of the “America-as-lethally-racist theme” that “is as […]

Nov 1 2005

Demonizing the Victims of Katrina

Coverage painted hurricane survivors as looters, snipers and rapists

Kelsey, Katrina evacuee (cc photo: Robert Terrell)

By September 1, residents of flood-ravaged New Orleans had been trapped for nearly 72 hours in a city with little shelter, food, drinkable water or dry clothing. As much as 80 percent of the city was under water as the Federal Emergency Management Agency seemed unable to respond to the situation. Police and first-responders abandoned their posts, while the National Guard’s efforts were sapped by forces and equipment deployed to Iraq. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer summed up the crisis in the opener to his daily news show, The Situation Room: It’s just after 3 p.m. in New Orleans, where thousands of […]

Oct 1 2005

Covering Katrina

Amid Newfound Honesty, Apologetics Continue

One of the most noted trends in the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina has been the aggressive and critical tone some journalists have adopted towards the White House and Bush administration officials. “How could the president be so wrong, so misinformed?” Tim Russert asked on Meet the Press (9/4/05). Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation (9/04/05) declared that “government at every level failed the people it was created to serve,” calling the emergency plan “survival of the richest.” Even Shepherd Smith at Fox News (9/2/05) resisted Sean Hannity’s attempts to put the chaotic federal response in “perspective,” insisting, “This is […]

Oct 1 2005

The World’s Most Generous Misers

Tsunami reporting misrepresented U.S. giving

In March 1997, a joint poll by the Washington Post, Harvard University and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked Americans which area of federal expenditure they thought was the largest. Was it Social Security (which actually constituted about a quarter of the budget)? Medicare? Military spending? Sixty-four percent of respondents said it was foreign aid—when in reality foreign aid made up only about 1 percent of total outlays (Washington Post, 3/29/97). Today, Americans think about 20 percent of the federal budget goes toward foreign aid. When told the actual figure for U.S. foreign aid giving (about 1.6 percent of the discretionary […]

Sep 9 2005

Covering Katrina

Has a More Critical Press Corps Emerged?

One of the most noted trends in the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina has been the aggressive and critical tone some journalists have adopted towards the White House and Bush administration officials. A headline at the online magazine Slate read, “The Rebellion of the Talking Heads” (9/2/05). “Katrina Rekindles Adversarial Media” is how USA Today put it (9/6/05)–implying, of course, that an “adversarial” press really existed in the first place. Of course, this new attitude was not universal. After George W. Bush told ABC‘s Diane Sawyer, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees” (9/1/05), many outlets questioned […]