William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NOTICE THE HUGE PRESS INTEREST – AT 8:29 A.M. ET:  Those of us in the New York area know the truth – that the federal government's response to Hurricane Sandy, which struck just before the election, was disgraceful.  What the victims of the huge storm got was an election-eve presidential visit, and some demonstrative hugs.  What they didn't get was real help.  It turns out that the government even failed the government.    From the New York Post: 

The feds weren’t ready to handle even the most basic needs of their own workers as Hurricane Sandy walloped the region last fall, records obtained by The Post reveal.

Government officials requested emergency-communication equipment as the storm bore down — but never got it, the records show.

They were left to talk to one another and Washington, DC, over personal cellphones after their government-issued equipment — satellite phones and all — failed.

And as night fell, they had to try to bribe hotel owners with generators to get rooms for evacuees and responders.

And...

The GSA provided The Post with hundreds of pages of Sandy-related records in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The agency runs federal buildings and is responsible for supplying emergency-relief gear.

Among the GSA’s findings:

* A mobile cell tower requested from DC was never dispatched.

* FEMA’s command center at the Earle Naval Station in Monmouth County, NJ, lost all power in the storm. And for more than a day, staffers there were stuck using personal smartphones to get online because their government-issued equipment was useless.

* The GSA was tasked to find a “major hotel chain” that was without power. “FEMA will provide [a] generator if they reserve rooms for responders and evacuees,” officials were told.

* Amid the crisis, bureaucrats squabbled over budget rules and who was in charge of signing contracts to get supplies in place.

COMMENT:  Where is the outrage from the mainstream media?  There isn't any.  Compare please to the anti-Bush tirades during and after Hurricane Katrina, and the blunt charges that Bush didn't care about New Orleans because most of the residents were black.  In fact, the fault for the incompetent response to Katrina lay almost exclusively with the make-believe mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, who was recently indicted, and the unserious governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, who has vanished from public life. 

But the press blamed Bush and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  In fact, that same FEMA, the year before, had handled five hurricanes that hit the coast of Florida, and handled them very well.  The reason:  Florida, in Jeb Bush, had a real governor who knew how to respond.

Obama, who was helped to re-election by Hurricane Sandy – it took attention away from his record during the last days of the campaign – has been untouched by the debacle surrounding the federal response to the storm.  The press has also tried to protect him from blame at Benghazi.

Press bias has its consequences.  In a democracy, where we depend on accurate information to make our decisions, those consequences can and will be grave.

February 18, 2013