Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Katrina Response Not Exactly As Advertised

Lou Dolinar has the scoop on what the mainstream media missed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?

Sure, we all remember the original reporting, if not the back-pedaling.

Here's another one: Do you remember the dramatic TV footage of National Guard helicopters landing at the Superdome as soon as Katrina passed, dropping off tens of thousands saved from certain death? The corpsmen running with stretchers, in an echo of M*A*S*H, carrying the survivors to ambulances and the medical center? About how the operation, which also included the Coast Guard, regular military units, and local first responders, continued for more than a week?
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Me neither. Except that it did happen, and got at best an occasional, parenthetical mention in the national media. The National Guard had its headquarters for Katrina, not just a few peacekeeping troops, in what the media portrayed as the pit of Hell. Hell was one of the safest places to be in New Orleans, smelly as it was. The situation was always under control, not surprisingly because the people in control were always there. [....]

In the end, the media timeline was exactly backwards. The bulk of all rescues took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and began tapering off on Thursday, officials say. Their account is buttressed by a Washington Post poll of survivors, which indicates that 75 percent of the survivors who had been trapped and rescued were picked by Thursday, and virtually all were picked up by the end of the week.

In other words, by the time the clich├ęd "long-awaited help" arrived, in the form of a visually-stimulating cigar being chomped by a cussing Lt. General Russel L. Honore, the worst was over. The majority of trapped survivors were out of the direst straits and awaiting evacuation. [....]

I had always suspected the media was not providing the complete picture, and instead cherry picked the worst possible situations to highlight in the bulk of their coverage of the tragedy.

Dolinar doesn't gloss over the fact that there was indeed a fair share of mistakes made by various individuals and agencies, but he points out that these failures were a smaller part of the larger picture than we were led to believe.

Dolinar provides a lengthy, detailed, and well-sourced analysis that paints a much more complete picture of what he says the media missed, or as I prefer to say, chose to ignore.

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