September 30, 2005
Media double standardsBy Noel Sheppard
For most of September, Americans were bombarded almost 24 hours a day with declarations by media representatives and Democratic leaders about the incompetence of President Bush.
During this time, we watched our president and members of his administration, such as Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff and former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, be humiliated by debasing and incendiary questions from reporters. Concurrently, we saw high—ranking Democrats such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D—Cal) state that our president was oblivious and dangerous.
We heard that it was all the Bush administration's fault that so many people were helplessly trapped at the Superdome and the Convention Center. We heard of rapes, murders, and beatings at these locations. We heard of abysmal and almost unthinkable conditions all around New Orleans, that it was going to take months to drain the city, and that this, too, was the fault of the Bush administration.
Yet, when the water and smoke cleared at least a month ahead of schedule, a distinctly different picture emerged. We found that the projected casualties caused by this disaster were exaggerated by at least tenfold. So were the acts of violence at the Superdome and Convention Center.
At the heart of these exaggerations was the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin.
But, he is still treated with great respect by the American media.
We have learned in the past few weeks that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco: has behaved like a deer caught in the headlights since the hours before Katrina made landfall; blocked requests by the Bush administration to allow FEMA and non—Louisiana National Guard representatives to enter New Orleans sooner, and; is likely one of the most hapless and incompetent figures involved in this whole tragedy.
Yet, the media (and Senate, perhaps taking its cues from the media) still treat her with kid gloves.
Recently, it has come to light that not only did upwards of one—third of the New Orleans police department leave their posts after Katrina hit, but also that some of them have been implicated in participating in looting during the crisis. It appears that both of these realizations led to this week's resignation of New Orleans Police superintendent, Eddie Compass.
And, we have learned that for many decades, funds that were allocated by the federal government for hurricane and storm damage control throughout New Orleans and Louisiana were redirected by local politicians to their own pet projects.
With all this evidence mounting about an almost unbelievably incompetent local and state government, where is the media outrage concerning the behavior and performance of these New Orleans and Louisiana officials?
After all, this is their city and their state.
Shouldn't these folks be held to at least the same standard as FEMA representatives flying into New Orleans from across the country, or non—Louisiana National Guard members? Why aren't we seeing the same grilling of Nagin, Blanco, and what is left of the New Orleans police department as Bush administration officials were put through when they were in the firing line?
Maybe most important, are these really the kind of people that we taxpayers should be forking over $250 billion to?
With that as a pretext, below is a video link of CNN's Kyra Phillips interviewing New Orleans police Capt. Marlon Defillo about the recent police officer looting allegations in his city, as well as other problems within the department.
While you're watching, pay particular attention to how pleasant and respectful Phillips is to her guest as she questions him about the sub—standard performance of his officers. See how quickly she understands the tough conditions that these men and women must have been up against as she sympathizes with and rationalizes their behavior.
Now, close your eyes, and imagine that this is Chertoff or Brown being questioned. How different would Phillips's countenance, comportment, and attitude be?
Try to envision these folks that had gone AWOL or looted the city were FEMA agents or National Guard members. How much differently would this interview have gone had that been the case, and how understanding, respectful, and sympathetic would Phillips have behaved towards their superiors?
Noel Sheppard is an economist, business owner, and contributing writer for the Free Market Project. He is also contributing editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. Noel welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.