Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina Press Coverage: Powerful Sentiments

Here is a quick round up of some of the most interesting press coverage on Katrina over the past few days, with video clips and transcripts:

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This is a harrowing and yet brilliant piece of journalism by Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith as they document with sadness and anger their frustration at the sights they have witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina. The website is a little busy so you might have to wait about 30 seconds or so for the video to come up... (stick it out - it's worth the wait!!!).

Video: Geraldo and Shep' on Hannity and Colmes

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On Meet the Press today Tim Russert effectively clobbered Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff on the issue of accountability. Using a damning article from the Times Picayune in 2002, which essentially predicted the tragic events that have transpired, Russert demanded to know why such huge underestimations were made by the Federal Gov't... and why people were taken by surprise by the extent of the flooding. Here is the eerily spooky quote from the 2002 article Russert used:

"...A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time. ... The scene's been played out for years in computer models or emergency operations simulations... New Orleans has hurricane levees that create a bowl with the bottom dipping lower than the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. ...the levees would trap any water that gets inside-- by breach, overtopping or torrential downpour--catastrophic storm. ... The estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter for people too sick or inform to leave the city. ...But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground. Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Other will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days."

Full transcript from today's "Meet The Press"
Video: Tim Russert Interviews Michael Chertoff

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And finally, as I previously posted in the comments section of the last thread, Mary Landrieu, who I think has been outstanding throughout this entire crisis, was aggressively challenged by Anderson Cooper for complimenting her political colleagues at a time when people were continuing to suffer. Anderson, too, wanted politicians to focus on accountability for the appauling errors that have been made:

Video: Anderson Cooper Interviews Senator Mary Landrieu

As I said in my last entry I feel very strongly that criticism... especially politically motivated shots at the President, is counter productive at a time when the nation needs to be united. People are still stranded in New Orleans desperately requiring political leadership. A post on a right leaning blog called Voice Potential demonstrates the dangerous road we begin to take if we allow the current dialogue to descend into partisan bickering from either side. This is not a time for attacking each other.

The implications are stark for where we might be heading. Liberals aren't exploiting a national tragedy for political purposes as the Voice Potential article contends... at least the majority of them aren't. Liberals are donating money, and volunteering, and doing everything they can to help people still down there. As are Republicans, and people of no political persuasion. Everybody is in this together. Unity is the essential pre-requisite for the expediency and efficiency that was initially lacking in the relief effort. I don't want politicians blaming each other, like Anderson Cooper seemed to be demanding. I want them working together to save lives as swiftly as possible.

It is easy, and perhaps not entirely helpful to frame the journalistic discourse in terms of the dramatic failures that have cost thousands of lives and subjected almost a million people to misery and violence. But the more challenging journalistic responsibility will be in the weeks and months ahead, when the situation is under control, and Hurricane Katrina is no longer a ratings winner on Cable News. I hope then, when it really matters, journalists like Geraldo, Shepard Smith, and Anderson Cooper retain their compelling passion and aggression to thoroughly investigate the events that have contributed to this terrible disaster. I hope eventually then, we can begin to understand why the people of New Orleans were so dreadfully let down by all levels of their government.

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