William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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REMEMBER? – AT 10:42 A.M. ET:  The reporting around Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, was some of the most disgraceful that I've seen, almost as bad as some of the botched reporting from Vietnam in 1968, which gave America the impression that we were losing a war we were actually winning. 

Many reporters, drunk on a hatred of President Bush, whom they could not believe had been re-elected, and flying the flag of political correctness, reported Katrina as a political story rather than as a natural disaster.  Thus, the African-American mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, was almost beyond criticism.  According to the bible of political correctness, black officials must be handled with kid gloves, unless they're conservative.  Ditto with the female governor of Louisiana, the monumentally incompetent Kathleen Blanco. 

It was the fault of BUSH (!!!!) and CHENEY (!!!!).  Keith Olbermann, bordering on an emotional meltdown, went on the air to attack Secretary of State Condi Rice because she was in a New York theater when the storm struck, as if secretaries of state handle hurricanes.

The constant botching by city and state authorities went virtually unreported.  The Bush administration was accused of racism, the logic being that the storm was so bad, and the response so inadequate, because New Orleans was 2/3 black.

In fact, Bush's response was, in most respects, swift and correct.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which had superbly handled multiple hurricanes in Florida the year before, was condemned as a catastrophe.  (It had handled those Florida hurricanes so well in part because Florida had a real governor in Jeb Bush.)

In New Orleans proper, 300 school buses, which could have been used to evacuate citizens at risk, stood idle, without drivers, because the local government couldn't get the evacuation organized.  But, of course, it was Bush's fault.

Now the truth starts to come out.  From The New York Times:

NEW ORLEANS — C. Ray Nagin, the former mayor of this city who fulminated against the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina but became for many a symbol of the shortcomings of government himself, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday on 21 counts including conspiracy, bribery and money laundering.

The indictment detailed a wide-ranging scheme of kickbacks and pay-for-play of a kind not entirely unfamiliar in Louisiana history. Contractors and vendors looking for work with the city would provide the mayor with vacations, big checks and even free granite for his family business. In exchange, they would be awarded lucrative contracts with the city, assistance in defusing community opposition to their projects and even forgiveness of tax penalties.

While federal prosecutors have convicted a Louisiana governor, a congressman, a city councilman and members of the school board in the past 15 years alone, this is the first time in New Orleans history that a mayor has been indicted on corruption charges.

He is innocent until proved guilty, but the indictment is damning.

Nagin, loyal to New Orleans to the end, currently lives in Texas.

In reporting the story briefly, the three major news networks never mentioned that he was a Democrat.

When Katrina struck, the projection was for 10,000 deaths.  The final number was about 1,100, due entirely to a remarkable lifesaving effort by the Coast Guard, sent to New Orleans even before the storm...by George W. Bush.

Contrast please with the federal response to the recent Hurricane Sandy, which is estimated to be seven times slower than the response to Katrina.  Yet, Barack Obama was portrayed by the press as a hero. 

The media will never correct its Katrina sins.  In journalism, little mistakes are quickly fixed.  If a newspaper gets someone's middle initial wrong, it's fixed.  But journalism never corrects major errors.  They're too embarrassing. 

A biased press has devastating consequences.  I think it could actually, under certain circumstances, bring down the United States, or change it in horrible ways. 

Ray Nagin's actual behavior was no secret within New Orleans.  It was only a secret to the party liners of the national press.

January 19,  2013