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FOX News Hypocrisy: Let's Come Together As A Nation And Blame Whom We Tell You To Blame

Reported by Ellen - September 10, 2005 -

Judging from the irrationality and ferocity of the FOX News spin on the hurricane relief, I can only conclude that the GOP must be really scared of the fallout. Rather than defend a single thing Bush has done, the general strategy seems to be to blame everything on the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana, then attack anyone who criticizes Bush's handling of the crisis (or lack thereof) by saying that now is the time to come together as a nation and focus on the future. Last night's (9/9/05) Hannity & Colmes was another example. Ignoring the top story of the day - the removal of the head of FEMA from Katrina duties (one week after Bush said he was doing "a heck of a job") - substitute co-host Rich Lowry, subbing for Sean Hannity, sounded nearly hysterical as he tried to bully guest Eleanor Clift into going "on the record" that the Louisiana government bore at least SOME of the blame.

In an early segment, a black minister named Rev. Darrell Johnson answered Jesse Jackson's and Al Sharpton's accusations that race was a factor in the poor disaster response. No defense of Bush was offered, just a plea that now is the time to concentrate on the relief effort, not the time to criticize the president.

Comment: Why can't both be done? That's like saying now's the time to focus on finding Natalee Holloway, not criticizing the Aruban government. If any Aruban had come on H&C with such an argument, Hannity would have blasted him off the screen. But when it's Bush on the line, it's a whole different story. Furthermore, if there is anyone out there who thinks FOX News will ever come up with a good time to criticize Bush, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

In a later segment, guests Michael Reagan and Eleanor Clift came on to discuss whether celebrities are using the crisis "as an EXCUSE (Lowry's emphasis) to take aim at the Bush Administration."

Lowry opened the discussion by ignoring the celebrity angle that was supposed to be the topic and making what looked like a desperate effort to trick Clift into admimitting the governor of Louisiana, not Bush, was at fault. Clift, probably the best Democratic spokesperson in the FOX News stable of political pundits, didn't fall for it.

Lowry asked, "Since we have this blame game now going in full force in Washington, do you, personally, think it was a good idea for the state of Louisiana to deliberately block Red Cross supplies from the Super Dome and the convention center last week in an attempt, in effect, to starve out the evacuees there?"

Clift replied, "The blame game is a derogatory term for accountability and we've had failures on the part of government and our leaders at the local level, at the state level and at the presidential level."

Lowry interrupted to say "So that was a mistake? ...So Eleanor, you tonight are holding Governor Blanco accountable for trying to starve out evacuees last week from the Super Dome and the convention center? For the record, you're holding her accountable?"

Clift said Blanco was trying to get people to leave.

Lowry, excitedly asked, "Was it a good idea or not? Was it a good idea or not? ...Be straight, Eleanor!"

Clift told him to stop yelling at her. She said, "There's blame to go around but in the end, the federal government is our last defense and it's the failure of the federal government that has people in this country worried."

Lowry interrupted excitedly again. "Why aren't you answering the question? Why aren't you answering the question? Was it a mistake for Governor Blanco to do that?"

Clift, unrattled, told Lowry that she was answering the question.

Alan Colmes pointed out that The Red Cross was asked not to come in initially because it was deemed unsafe. Then, when the governor wanted to evacuate, it was the agency's decision, not the governor's, not to come in.

Colmes, addressing Reagan, called it "a shame" that "the same people accusing Democrats and liberals of blaming the president are the same ones who can't wait to blame the mayor, can't wait to blame the governor."

Reagan's answer was, in essence, that the other side started it first. "They started pointing fingers at the president of the United States," Reagan said. Blaming the mayor and the governor was "in order to come to the aid of the president."

Comment: How about a real defense of the president's actions or decisions? It seems rather telling that nobody seems to have one.

Clift said "It's obvious that the local and state authorities were overwhelmed... and that the federal government needed to step in and my goodness, if we're going to ever deal with a terrorist attack which we've apparently been readying ourselves for, for the last four years and we can't even get hurricane relief right, it doesn't add confidence..."

Lowry interrupted to end the segment. But he couldn't resist taking another jab at Governor Blanco. "If you wanted troops there sooner, the governor could have let Bush federalize the guard and send active duty troops in to do law enforcement she resisted that."

Note: I also heard faith-based and private charities extolled repeatedly during the hour. As I posted yesterday, I suspect a GOP talking point-to-come will be an effort to privatize relief, especially with Christian charities, and/or claim that private relief has been the focus of Bush's efforts all along.