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Heartless, Elitist, Racially Insensitive Hurricane Coverage Continues On Hannity & Colmes

Reported by Ellen - September 1, 2005

First, the good news. There seemed to be a real attempt on last night's Hannity & Colmes to provide a more racially inclusive perspective on the hurricane than was provided the night before. Now the bad news. Some FOX News reporters' underlying lack of compassion for and understanding of the people they were covering came through despite what one hopes was their good intentions.

Reporter Anita Vogel showed her cluelessness when she reported from what she described as a "temporary holding area for refugees," who were all black. She made them sound like a bunch of irresponsible ne'er-do-wells when she described them as "people who simply waited too long to get out and then got stuck." Vogel gave no thought, at least on the air, to the possibility that maybe these were people who COULD NOT leave for one reason or another - economic, health conditions, family considerations. She did no interviews with anyone there about how they "got stuck," nor did she provide any facts at all to explain her conclusion. Then, in a further bout of elitism, she added, "Now a lot of them, if they weren't homeless before, are homeless now."

Vogel made a point of describing the "less than ideal" conditions where people had been waiting for hours - no bathroom facilities, nowhere to sit, no shelter from the sun. But her interest in their plight seemed clinical and professional only. In my view, her earlier comments revealed her true feelings.

In another segment, Molly Henneberg interviewed a young, black woman in Baton Rouge who told a story about being rescued from her uncle's house in New Orleans after she waved down a boat with an American flag. (I wonder if the flag angle was what got her the on-camera time. There's nothing FOX likes better than someone waving a flag.) The woman started crying as she explained that the whereabouts and condition of many of her relatives in New Orleans were unknown. "I don't know if they rescued them. I don't know if they're still there and it's not a good situation," the woman said tearfully.

Henneberg, obviously eager to end the interview brushed off the woman's concerns by saying "I'm sure they're gonna be just fine and I hope you get word soon."

She's sure they're gonna be just fine? Just a few minutes earlier, Shepard Smith had reported that authorities expect to find "hundreds and hundreds" of people dead after being trapped in their attics as the floodwaters rose. Just after Henneberg, reporter Jeff Goldblatt, talking about the looting, described the situation as "not being the safest... Dark, no water, no food, desperate people. And when people are desperate, sometimes they do desperate things."

So how is Henneberg sure the relatives are "gonna be just fine?"

Sean Hannity continued his fixation on looting. Although last night's video showed a few white looters (unlike the previous night's footage) in the mostly black crowd, he made no attempt in his condemnations to discern how much looting was the result of necessity and desperation or how much was the result of greed. He showed no interest in Goldblatt's description of the desperate circumstances of the looters. The only interest Hannity showed was in condemning them. Hannity's cushy, protected - and, yes, elitist - life has not only shielded him from the unimaginable stress that has caused such desperation in the New Orleans residents, it has also insulated him from caring.

From what I have seen of Vogel and Henneberg, he is not alone.

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