Thursday, March 02, 2006


More AP Katrina Misreporting

John Hinderaker, writing at Powerline, exposes a multitude of errors and misreporting in this week’s AP effort to sustain the media drumbeat, on the well-worn warpath against the Bush Administration.

This time, the AP commits gross misreporting about leaked tapes of meetings and discussions among Federal, State and local officials in the days immediately preceding Katrina.

As introduced, quoted, and summarized by John:

The AP treats the resulting story as an expose, with the headline: "Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina."

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Do the documents show any such thing? Beats me; the AP didn't release the documents or video footage so we could draw our own conclusions. It merely summarized them for us, in a way obviously intended to make President Bush and the administration look bad.

It gets worse. I watched the video on one of the morning news channels, that AP used as demonstration that President Bush and Chief of Homeland Security Chertoff were warned that the levees could be breached. I clearly heard the individual conducting a brief warn of the likelihood that levees could be “overtopped.”

Is it that the AP reporters think “breached” means the same as “overtopped?” Semantics, schmantics, it’s a flood already you might say. But in terms of damage and destruction, knowledgable experts fully expected water going over the levees, and the big concern was whether the storm would hit as a Category 5 or weaker. No one was seriously discussing a breach (failure, collapse) of the levees themselves, which would have caused much greater concern. (Not that facts are of primary concern to the new Fake but AccurateTM  style of the AP.)

Another example, highlighted at Powerline, quoting both AP and Popular Mechanics:

The AP asserts that "federal officials...were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster." But nothing in the article supports that claim. The AP alleges further:

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen.

This is simply untrue, as the reporters would know if they read Power Line. For a far more thorough and balanced look at the Katrina response, see Popular Mechanics:

In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's landfall.

Jeez. Is there no end to the politicization of the wire services? Given the heavy dependence of medium and small media upon the AP, to have this organization so political and subjective in its reporting represents an extreme disservice to the reading public. Can’t someone with some capital and ethics, start a competing, truly objective wire service? I have a hard time believing that vast multitudes of Red State readers in the heartland have any more stomach for the bilge AP regularly foists on them via the small press consumers of their flawed product.

We need a Citizen Kane, but before he gets corrupted by his own power. Maybe the Joseph Cotton character, with a wealthy benefactor, without the drinking.

John calls on the AP to release all the leaked materials, so the public can judge for themselves. Frankly, I seriously doubt there’s anything there. Because if there was, the AP would have highlighted anything remotely damaging to the Bush Administration. And the paltry they did release, was no doubt the best they had.

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