Nov
01
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
01
2005

Spinning the Libby Indictment

Pundits attack Fitzgerald, downplay perjury

The October 28 indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in the CIA leak investigation was major news. Libby–who promptly resigned from his position as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff–is portrayed in the indictment as repeatedly and deceptively claiming he learned from reporters about Valerie Plame Wilson’s classified status at the CIA. Wilson’s CIA role was exposed in apparent retaliation for her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, writing an op-ed for the New York Times (7/6/03) critical of the Bush administration’s claims that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons. Some journalists, however, seemed to think that the story was not so […]

Nov
01
2005

SoundBites

A Republican Problem After Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay was charged on September 28 with illegally funneling corporate money to Texas Republicans, CBS’s Face the Nation (10/2/05) covered the indictment by convening a panel of three Republican congressmembers: David Dreier of California, John Shadegg of Arizona and Jim Leach of Iowa. Why the curious booking decision? Host Bob Schieffer explained midway through the interview: “Let me just point out, I didn’t invite any Democrats to be on this morning because I thought this was a Republican problem and wanted to give you a chance to talk about it.” Funny, you’d […]

Nov
01
2005

Suspect Sources

Behind Tales of Mayhem

With a dearth of reliable information coming out of flood-ravaged New Orleans, many unsubstantiated accounts of violence and mayhem surged through mainstream media outlets in the first days of the crisis. As the waters receded, some of the sources for these stories seemed as slippery as the post-flood slime that covered the city. Peggy Hoffman, executive director of the assisted-living facility Bethany Home, for example, claimed in an Associated Press article (8/31/05) that the facility’s evacuation vehicle had been hijacked and its food and water stores looted in the first days of the disaster. Hoffman stated that “we had enough […]

Nov
01
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 […]