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Damage Control Kicks Into High Gear

Reported by Nancy - September 6, 2005 -

Today (9/6) on FNL, it was sadly apparent that Bill Hemmer has gotten the word: his dispassionate, objective reporting of news you can use has been replaced by the business-as-usual FNL mode of interjecting Bush into nearly every story.

While the primary focus was still the aftermath of Katrina, here's how FNL managed to make it all about Bush:

12:00pm - Bill Hemmer in Baton Rouge reported on the situation in NOLA. Noting that Gov Blanco says her relationship with Mike Brown (FEMA) is "fine", Hemmer segued into "fingepointing" & added that Bush said there will be "plenty of time for a blame game down the road.".

12:09pm - Hemmer showed video of evacuees arriving in DC then again repeated some of what Bush had said earlier.

12:09pm - Wendell Goler at the White House reported on Bush's reponse to "complaints about the failure of the federal government", emphasizing that Bush has "3 events today", & that Cheney will be sent to the region on Thursday. One phrase that Goler used was interesting: "efforts being made to help victims after newspapers criticized him [Bush]." Goler showed a clip of Bush & said he's "meeting right now with leaders of charitable" orgs, adding that Bush had said "government can't shoulder the load from Katrina alone." Goler read a critical comment from Sen Joe Lieberman (D-CT), then talked about Bush's planned "Rose Garden event" with Education Secretary Margaret Spelling this afternoon.

12:12pm - Hemmer announced that FNL was "waiting for video" of Bush, then repeted some of what Bush has been doing (e.g., yesterday "meeting first-hand" with evacuees at a megachurch). FNL then went live to Bush speaking after his meeting (banner: PRES BUSH MEETS W/ CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS). When Bush finished, Hemmer characterized what he had said as "strong comments" & noted that Bush visited the region yesterday for "the second time in 4 days."

The rest of the hour was largely taken up by a live press conference being held in NOLA by the Mayor & various other officials. The statements & questions were almost exclusively about the situation in NOLA & there was no mention of Bush by either officials or reporters at the press conference.

Comment: Too bad FEMA didn't take a page from Fox about how to do damage control.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's coverage of the aftermath of Katrina). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.