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Health Care & Environment
06.19 Engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% [Trump fires scientist. It would be far better to enable their good work.]
06.19 We’ll Never Solve Immigration If We Don’t Solve Climate Change [Why is our President so willfully stupid?]
06.18 The Worst Patients in the World [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.17 Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia [Governments must subsidize very rapid installation of renewable energy to displace all fossil energy—aka DEATH ENERGY—power plants that must be made illegal ASAP]
06.17 Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows [Obscene!]
06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]
06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]
06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
06.19 America has never gone this long without hiking the federal minimum wage [The poor would spend every penny and help the economy and decrease health costs. Only dummies don't understand the costly effects of penury.]
06.19 When migrants arrived in droves, this poor New Mexico city opened its arms [A good example for us all: This is the way we must respond to human suffering]
06.18 It's A Horrible Idea To Privatize The Tennessee Valley Authority And Other Public Energy Assets [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell [His immorality is in complete control]
06.17 Climate change leadership would create a new 'American century' [We must incentivize the strategic good, again, before it's too late.]
06.17 Drug Cop Worth $400 Million After Bets on Brooklyn Real Estate [A better role-model than Trump or Kushner!]
06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]
06.18 As promised, Trump slashes aid to Central America over migrants [Is THIS the cruelest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 ‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war [If you act psychopathic you are psychopathic; 3:40 Video: Where have all the flowers (and morals and young men) gone, long time passing, sung by Marlene Dietreich]
06.17 'Blatant Theft': Netanyahu Unveils Illegal Settlement Named 'Trump Heights' in Occupied Syrian Territory [Great deal: the U.S. gives Israel $Billions every year, and they name an illegal settlement—to be built on Palestinian land—after Trump]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]
International & Futurism
06.19 Trump Enabled an ‘Act of Organized Crime’ in Guatemala [Trump and other mafia-dons cause refugees and migrants as much as global warming]
06.19 Madrid’s new rightwing council suspends low-emissions zone [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
06.19 Donald Trump’s reckless Iran policy casts doubt on the US as global leader [America's reputation has plummeted more speedily since Trump's dubious election, with professionals willfully replaced with less competent appointees or left unfilled in many federal government agencies]
06.18 'If This Is True, They Are Even Bigger Lunatics Than We Realized': UN Officials Reportedly Believe Trump Planning 'Massive' Bombing Campaign in Iran [Never underestimate the stupidity of the Trump Administration]
06.18 Iran will not wage war against any nation, says Hassan Rouhani [Economic sanctions are cruel punishment to innocent civilians causing hate for generations. We will reap what Trump sows.]
06.17 Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When He Was 10 [America's “best ally” is psychopathically insane]
06.17 Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time [Powerful, clear writing!]
Four years on, media mostly neglect an ongoing disaster
Originally published on the FAIR.org site yesterday, 2 September 2009
Amazingly, according to a search of the Nexis news media database, neither the Washington Post nor the L.A. Times ran a single piece on Katrina in the past week. ABC and Fox News didn't mention the hurricane or its aftermath once.
August 29 marked the fourth anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The devastation wrought by both the hurricane itself and the government's inept response prompted remarkably critical corporate media coverage that promised to fight for Katrina survivors and change the way we talk about poverty and race (FAIR Media Advisory, 9/9/05).
As NBC's Brian Williams told the St. Petersburg Times (3/1/06), "If this does not spark a national discussion on class, race, the environment, oil, Iraq, infrastructure and urban planning, I think we've failed." But four years later, corporate media outlets seem to have largely forgotten about Katrina and its survivors, let alone the conversations about race and poverty that were supposed to accompany it.
The Institute for Southern Studies issued a report (8-9/09) in which more than 50 Gulf Coast community leaders graded officials on their response to the ongoing disaster; the Obama administration received a D+, while Congress received a D. (George W. Bush received a D- in an earlier survey.) One million people are still displaced, rebuilding continues at a glacial pace, and the levees being rebuilt have been judged insufficient to protect New Orleans from another Katrina-level flood.
But amazingly, according to a search of the Nexis news media database, neither the Washington Post nor the L.A. Times ran a single piece on Katrina in the past week. ABC and Fox News didn't mention the hurricane or its aftermath once.
CBS ran two segments (8/28/09, 8/31/09), as well as a brief headline (8/29/09) on Barack Obama's weekly radio address that discussed post-Katrina reconstruction. The one mention on MSNBC came on the Ed Show (8/27/09), when host Ed Schultz singled out right-wing talk radio host Neal Boortz for his hateful remarks about displaced Katrina survivors, such as his recent commentary: "Obama wants to rebuild New Orleans? Why? 'Build it and they will come'? 'They'? The debris that Katrina chased out?"
NBC ran four segments, all of which put a remarkably upbeat spin on the situation. In one piece (8/30/09), reporter Ron Mott declared that while a third of the homes in New Orleans are still vacant or abandoned, "positive news abounds. The population is steadily climbing as are test scores in the overhauled public school system." Another segment (8/30/09) reported that "the city and its most famous cultural treasure are now well on the mend," while a day earlier (8/29/09), Saturday Today anchor Lester Holt introduced a short piece on "encouraging new signs for the city," in which reporter Mott announced that "much has improved and a lot of people are working."
The New York Times published a few pieces on Katrina, including an op-ed chart (8/28/09) and a report (8/30/09) on Obama's speech. The cover story of its weekend magazine (8/30/09) was a long piece by Sheri Fink, of the nonprofit journalism outfit ProPublica, on the "deadly choices" at a New Orleans hospital following the hurricane--one of the few anniversary pieces to touch even obliquely on issues of racism, quoting one doctor who helped euthanize patients as saying he was worried about "the animals" outside--that "these crazy black people who think they've been oppressed for all these years by white people" might start "raping...or, you know, dismembering" people.
The Times also ran an article (8/31/09) that talked about how the goal in New Orleans isn't to "revert to the city that existed here before the flood," but instead focusing on "revitalization." (See Extra!, 7-8/07.) Further down it mentioned that "fundamental problems" still exist, like high unemployment, and some neighborhoods that "seem barely touched" since four years ago. Race, though, wasn't mentioned a single time.
The day before the Katrina anniversary, the Times did manage to run a front-page piece on the abysmal state of flood recovery--in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (8/28/09): "Flooded Iowa City Rebuilding and Feeling Just a Bit Ignored." As reporter Susan Saulny put it, "The outpouring of attention toward New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, ratcheting up again now as the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, has not been seen here. In fact, the people of Cedar Rapids are feeling neglected."
As Saulny quickly made clear, her premise itself is flawed: "To be sure, Hurricane Katrina's huge reach and a botched emergency response devastated a far greater swath of the country than did the flooding in the Midwest, and no one here is trying to make tit-for-tat disaster comparisons. No lives were lost in the flooding in Cedar Rapids, and the government's initial response to the crisis was generally considered a success." And yet, the New York Times saw fit to run a front-page piece on Cedar Rapids and not Katrina. That "outpouring of attention" for Katrina victims Saulny described as attending the fourth anniversary certainly wasn't to be found in the Times.
CNN, whose relatively heavy Katrina coverage helped boost host Anderson Cooper's profile at the network (Extra!, 7-8/06), dedicated much more time than any other major outlet to the anniversary, with a few dozen segments over the days before and after August 29. But while some of the coverage dug deeper than other outlets, it betrayed CNN's lack of consistent interest in the issue. In one report, for example, correspondent Gary Tuchman "tracked down" a story on vigilante justice in which a white militia formed in a largely white neighborhood and shot black passersby in the chaotic days following the hurricane. It's a critical story--so why did CNN only come to it nearly nine months after ProPublica journalist A.C. Thompson (interviewed briefly in CNN's piece) broke the news in a lengthy investigative report published in the Nation (1/05/09)? It would seem the Katrina anniversaries are the only time such stories are considered newsworthy.
The media's neglect of the Gulf Coast is not a new thing; Extra! was writing about it as far back as July/August 2006. According to the Tyndall Report, which monitors TV news, there were 367 minutes on Katrina's aftermath that year (TVNewser, 1/3/07). In 2007 it was down to 116 minutes, while in 2008 it was not among the top 20 stories of the year. In the first seven months of 2009, Tyndall finds, there were just six Katrina-related stories (TyndallReport.com).
Independent journalists and outlets, such as Jordan Flaherty (CounterPunch, 8/26/09) and Democracy Now! (8/31/09), as well as local journalists like the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Jarvis DeBerry (e.g., 8/21/09), have been documenting such ongoing disparities and unfulfilled promises. It's work the major outlets can and should be doing--and it doesn't even have to wait until the next anniversary.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a nonpartisan media watchdog organization. Visit http://fair.org for more information, or share your opinion about this story by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.
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This story was published on September 3, 2009.