Hugh Hewitt was on PBS today discussing the media’s Hurricane Katrina coverage; the transcript is here. Reader Greg Miller writes:
In a boxing match, the referee would have called the fight about the
half way through the segment.
He’s right. An excerpt:
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Mr. Hewitt, same question, what did you like and what did you dislike?
HUGH HEWITT: Well, Keith just said they did not report an ordinary story; in fact they were reporting lies. The central part of this story, what went on at the convention center and the Superdome was wrong. American media threw everything they had at this story, all the bureaus, all the networks, all the newspapers, everything went to New Orleans, and yet they could not get inside the convention center, they could not get inside the Superdome to dispel the lurid, the hysterical, the salaciousness of the reporting.
I have in mind especially the throat-slashed seven-year-old girl who had been gang-raped at the convention center — didn’t happen. In fact, there were no rapes at the convention center or the Superdome that have yet been corroborated in any way.
There weren’t stacks of bodies in the freezer. But America was riveted by this reporting, wholesale collapse of the media’s own levees they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in their own emotionalism. Exactly what Keith was praising I think led to one of the worst weeks of reporting in the history of American media, and it raises this question: If all of that amount of resources was given over to this story and they got it wrong, how can we trust American media in a place far away like Iraq where they don’t speak the language, where there is an insurgency, and I think the question comes back we really can’t.
PAUL adds: Remember how Michael Brown was ridiculed for saying he didn’t know that people were in the Convention Center, given that this had been reported on television? Critics asked why FEMA didn’t have someone watching television. It turns that, on balance, FEMA may have been better informed by virtue of eschewing tv. Perhaps Brown should have responded that he didn’t think anyone was at the Convention Center because the networks had reported that folks were there.