October 3, 2005

Swallowing Bilge

Retired media superhero Dan Rather was asked on Larry King's show the other night to comment on the media coverage of Katrina. Mark Steyn weighs in:

...Hurricane Dan professed himself delighted with his successors. "They took us there to the hurricane," he told Larry. "They put the facts in front of us and, very important, they sucked up their guts and talked truth to power."

Er, no. The facts they put in front of us were wrong, and they didn't talk truth to power. They talked to goofs in power, like New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass, and uncritically fell for every nutso yarn they were peddled. The media swallowed more bilge than if they'd been lying down with their mouths open as the levee collapsed. Ten thousand dead. Widespread rape and murder. A 7-year-old gang-raped and then throat-slashed. It was great stuff -- and none of it happened. No gang-raped 7-year-olds. None.

Most of the media are still in Dan mode, sucking up their guts and congratulating themselves about what a swell job they did during Katrina. CNN producers were advising their guests to "be angry," and there was so much to get angry about, not least that no matter how angry you got on air Anderson Cooper was always much better at it. And Mayor Nagin as well. To show he was angry, he used a lot of profanity. "That... Superdome," he raged. "Five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

But nobody got killed by a hooligan in the Superdome. The problem wasn't rape and murder, but the rather more prosaic lack of bathroom facilities. As Ben Stein put it, it was the media that rioted. They grabbed every lurid rumor and took it for a wild joy ride across primetime. There was a real story in there -- big hurricane, people dead -- but it wasn't enough, and certainly not enough for damaging George Bush.

More vintage Steyn, if you read it all.

Posted by dan at October 3, 2005 12:14 AM