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Desperate to Take Heat Off Bush, O'Reilly Lies and Blames the Poor

Reported by Marie Therese - September 6, 2005

As we all expected, the FOX News campaign to reassign blame for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been implemented. The whores at FNC have sold themselves for a fat paycheck, a pat on the back from Roger Ailes and a chance to hang out at the White House. Last night Bill O'Reilly and his Bush-worshipping guests engaged in a carefully orchestrated campaign of lies and misrepresentations aimed at absolving George W. Bush of any responsibility for the chaos, disease, misery and death in New Orleans.

Of course, as we News Hounds - and just about every other liberal blog - predicted, the scapegoat du jour would be the Democratic Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco. The back-up scapegoat is, naturally, Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, a Republican-turned-Democrat. Since even Republicans are calling for blood, they have added Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and FEMA Director Michael Brown to that list.

At certain times during the show, I screamed at my TV set. (My neighbors must think I'm a madwoman! ) O'reilly lied. He denigrated poor people. He did an about-face on the role of government. He claimed that Bush was late by "only 24 hours" in sending aid to NOLA. He and his guests pulled the usual FOX News shenanigans, i.e., crucial information was deliberately withheld from the audience and false conclusions drawn, clearly aimed at creating an impression favorable to the President.

LIE #1

"The truth is this. Governor Blanco of Louisiana did not have a disaster plan in place."

Here is what the Governor wrote in her 8/27 letter to President George W. Bush requesting federal help:

"In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on August 26, 2005 in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act. "

LIE #2

"[She] did not have enough state police and national guard to secure a city the size of New Orleans ..."

In the same letter Governor Blanco wrote: ''

The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of State and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency:
. Department of Social Services (DSS): Opening (3) Special Need Shelters (SNS) and establishing (3) on Standby.
. Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH): Opening (3) Shelters and establishing (3) on Standby.
. Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP): Providing generators and support staff for SNS and Public Shelters.
. Louisiana State Police (LSP): Providing support for the phased evacuation of the coastal areas.
. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (WLF): Supporting the evacuation of the affected population and preparing for Search and Rescue Missions.

LIE # 3

"...and did not push for federal help soon enough."

Hurricane Katrina hit on Monday, August 29th. Governor Blanco wrote to President Bush on Saturday, August 27th, when it became obvious that Katrina was going to require resources in excess of the state's ability to provide them.

"Dear Mr. President,

"Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26, 2005, and continuing. The affected areas are all the southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area and the mid state Interstate I-49 corridor and northern parishes along the I-20 corridor that are accepting the thousands of citizens evacuating from the areas expecting to be flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

"Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting emergency protective measures, direct Federal Assistance, Individual and Household Program (IHP) assistance, Special Needs Program assistance, and debris removal.

"Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of emergency assistance needed under the Stafford Act, and emergency assistance from certain Federal agencies under other statutory authorities are tabulated in Enclosure A."

Lie #4

"President Bush was 24 hours too slow in reacting to the disaster. Why? I don't know."

Katrina occurred on Monday, August 29th. The federal troops showed up on Friday, September 2nd. Now, how does that add up to 24 hours? Do you suppose that Bill assumed that the time-stretching technique used on the FOX Entertainment show "24" applies in real life? Or is it that he knows his audience of Bush supporters - desperate to maintain their illusions about their beloved leader - will believe anything HE tells them, regardless of the facts.

O'Reilly then went on to disparage Michael Chertoff, saying he "seemed clueless for days."

He then went from lying to defamation.

"In another area, it didn't take long before the race-hustlers hit the ground. They would have you believe reaction was slow because most of those stranded were black." He excoriated Jimmy Breslin for writing in Newsday: 'If whites were in trouble in New Orleans, trust that his [Bush's] government would have been there early ...' That is despicable nonesense. Newsday should be embarrassed for printing that kind of garbage. And NBC was embarrassed when rapper Kanye West said this:

VIDEO CLIP of Kanye West, September 2nd: "The way America is set up to help the, the poor, the black people, the less well off as slow as possible (tape splice) they've given them permission to go down and shoot us (tape splice) George Bush doesn't care about black people.' End clip.

O'Reilly continued: "NBC censored those remarks on the west coast and the remarks are simply nutty. I mean. Come on. West is saying authorities want to shoot blacks? Doesn't get more irresponsible than that. But what do you expect from an ideologically driven newspaper industry and the world of rap where anything goes. .What do you expect"

[Aside: Last week Bill O'Reilly routinely referred to the people stranded in New Orleans as "thugs." He also called them the "urban menace" and made it seem that most of the people in New Orleans were looters, as they hauled away - gasp! - food, water and clothing. However, when a reporter described how some Mississippians backed a truck up to a Wal-Mart parking lot and filled it up, he called it "exploiting" rather than "looting."]

LIE #5

"Engineers knew for decades the levee system in Louisiana could not withstand a category 5 hurricane but nobody wanted to pony up the $20 million needed to fix it."

From an article by Sidney Blumenthal

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.

And here's where I screamed at the TV set. O'Reilly continued FOX News' "blame the poor" campaign.

O'REILLY: "New Orleans is not about race. It's about class. If you're poor, you're powerless, not only in America, but everywhere on earth. If you don't have enough money to protect yourself from danger, danger's going to find you. And all the political gibberish in the world is not going to change that.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should be taught in every American school. If you don't get educated, if you don't develop a skill, and force yourself to work hard, you're most likely be poor. And sooner or later, you'll be standing on a symbolic rooftop waiting for help.

Chances are that help will not be quick in coming."

And this is the guy who thinks Michael Chertoff is out of touch?

Gimme a break.

Even Newt Gingrich distanced himself from O'Reilly on some of this. although I suspect their "disagreement" was orchestrated by FNC's upper management. O'Reilly was allowed to go over the top to appeal to the truly rabid, narrow-minded viewer that forms the base of the Factor audience. Gingrich was set up to look "moderate" by comparison.

N.B. 9/5/05 6:25 PM EDT - Post changed to reflect fact that Mayor Ray Fagin is a Democrat. He changed party affiliation just prior to his last election campaign. Sorry about the error.

Marie Therese

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