Tuesday, September 27

The Way Things Work

Remember all those rapes and murders that supposedly took place in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? By and large, according to a new report, they didn't happen.

Why, now that you mention it, Michelle, I do remember. In part, I remember because you linked to the USAToday story about rape and murder, you linked to the story claiming the human destruction which followed Katrina would be prove to be "staggering". You linked to that Australian Courier-Mail story about baby rapes and throat slashings in the Dome a sensible person would have mistaken for an article detailing the vivid lunacies of crackpot urban legends but was being presented as fact. You might have noticed that its fourth sentence claimed 30,000 National Guard troops had been given "shoot to kill" orders, a clear tip-off it was factually challenged, but you didn't. For good measure, you linked to a story about looting and rioting occurring in Baton Rouge, a story which turned out to be 100% fabricated and wearing a bedsheet and a hood.

Yesterday you didn't link to any of your linkage to the above. You did link to your post "debunking Katrina myths", which didn't actually debunk any rape or murder tales (it linked to the Guardian-UK story which said they hadn't been confirmed), but did take the time to pass along the Swiftboating of Aaron Broussard. That post came on September 6, more than a week after Katrina did. And long after the Bush administration began wearing the horse collar of its shameful response. So forgive me if I seem a little skeptical that this was just a humble journalist trying to set the record straight.

Then there's Hinderrocket, whose learned command of the First Amendment:

It's time for some accountability here. The conventional wisdom is that no one performed particularly well in the aftermath of Katrina--not local, state or federal authorities, and not considerable numbers of private citizens. But it now appears clear that the worse performance of all was turned in by the mainstream media. Congress should promptly investigate, and try to get to the bottom of the following questions:

* How did so many false rumors come to be reported as fact?
* Do news outlets have any procedures in place to avoid this kind of mis-reporting? If so, why did their procedures fail so miserably?
* To what extent were the false rumors honest mistakes, and to what extent were they deliberate fabrications?
* To the extent that the false reports were deliberate, did the press pass them on through sheer negligence, or did some reporters participate in deliberate fabrication?
* Did the widespread breakdown in accurate reporting stem only from a failure to follow proper journalistic standards, or did it also reflect a deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration by passing on unconfirmed rumors as fact?
* In deciding what stories to report, did the news media consider the likelihood that passing on false rumors would damage the rescue effort?

you quote admiringly. Neither of you has any standing to question other people getting things wrong for vaguely hinted-at ideological purpose. But since you brought it up:

It was FAUX News which was off and running with the Hobbesian theme on Tuesday afternoon, once the first loaf of bread was "looted", with David Lee Miller telling John Gibson "There are so many murders taking place. There are rapes, other violent crimes taking place". It was FAUX (with Greta van Susteren) which Tuesday night ran an eyewitness account of rapes and "several murders" at the Superdome.

If anything got out of hand it was the suspiciously "color-affected" (as Condimelda might say) focus on looting and lawlessness of which you were an early and gleeful participant. Quoting an early AP wire story on looting, you decided this comment was worth bold emphasis:
"To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society," he said.

By Wednesday afternoon, with tens of thousands stranded in the Dome, with thousands at the Convention Center yet undiscovered by the Feds, with people dying in hospitals and nursing homes for lack of government action, you were excoriating local officials for insufficient condemnation of looting. Link to that, Michelle.


annejumps said...

Please email that to her.

Anonymous said...

Michelle, you're killing me here. $20? Just how much? We know what you are; quote a damn price!

handdrummer said...

Despite it all, I still marvel at the A**missle's ability to communicate in complete sentences, given the variabilty of the many compulsory and impossible worldviews he has roiling in his skull. And all that, before breakfast.