Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Sean Hannity, Still Pretending That It's Out Of Compassion, Ignores National Interests As He Desperately Clings To Blaming Local Officials For Hurricane Relief Problems

Reported by Ellen - September 15, 2005

In the last few days, Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich have each appeared on Hannity & Colmes and opined that there were serious problems at all levels of the official response to Hurricane Katrina. But Sean Hannity refuses to acknowledge any federal mistakes. His stubborn insistence on blaming the local Democratic officials, only, for the Katrina relief problems is looking more and more absurd.

Early in last night's program (9/14/05), Newt Gingrich said with regard to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, "The current system failed and we have to dramatically improve it, dramatically change it and we'd better do it now before another hurricane or before a terrorist attack... Is Bush going to face up to the absolute disaster of the state, city and federal government failing to perform? ...The country knows (the system) failed."

Yet in a later segment, Hannity completely ignored any federal problems as he sounded almost gleeful about a Washington Post report that the City of New Orleans never accepted an Amtrak offer to evacuate residents.

The article that Hannity seemed to be referring to stated that the train had room for several hundred passengers only. The same article also stated that an estimated 100,000 people in New Orleans had no transportation out of the city. Later, approximately 50,000 were stranded at the Super Dome and Convention Center. While it would have been great if Amtrak could have evacuated some people, it was hardly a complete solution.

Furthermore, it's suprising that in a five-page article detailing the failures of official responses, Hannity should fasten on just the local responders. The article is quite clear that there's plenty of blame to go around. For example:

In many cases, resources that were available were not used, whether Amtrak trains that could have taken evacuees to safety before the storm or the U.S. military's 82nd Airborne division, which spent days on standby waiting for orders that never came. Communications were so impossible the Army Corps of Engineers was unable to inform the rest of the government for crucial hours that levees in New Orleans had been breached.

In his blindness to any errors at the federal level, Hannity returned to his favorite hurricane scapegoat, the buses that he feels Mayor Nagin should have utilized for evacuation. Beginning to work himself up into a self-righteous rage, Hannity told guest Howard Safir, former NYC Police Commissioner, "This is outrageous."

Safir said "It's symptomatic of the lack of command, the leadership and the planning that took place at the city level, the state level and the sluggish response of the federal government (my emphasis)."

Hannity ignored what Safir said about the federal government and went back to "Why didn't anyone use the buses?" When Safir answered that it was because of bureaucracy, Hannity put on his concerned face and his self-righteousness jumped into high gear. "That's the point. These lives could have been saved and this was a very vulnerable population. These were poor people, these were sick people, these were elderly people."

Very touching. It's too bad he can't seem to muster up the same concern for this vulnerable population at the hands of the feds.

As usual, Hannity had plenty of outrage left over for the governor of Louisiana. Parroting the conservative talking point that Governor Blanco didn't allow Red Cross supplies in, Hannity either ignored or didn't bother to verify that the Red Cross has changed its story over time. Furthermore, as Media Matters reports,

both the Red Cross' charter and the federal Department of Homeland Security's December 2004 National Response Plan clearly indicate that ultimate decision-making authority rested (or should have rested) with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), not with any state agency.

By contrast, Alan Colmes' low-key, fact-based approach made Hannity's posturing look all the more ridiculous. Colmes started by reporting that there were no drivers for the buses, that Governor Blanco declared a state of emergency on 8/26 and begged the president to come in on 8/27. Colmes asked Safir if lives could have been saved with a quicker federal response? Safir said yes, they should have sent the 82nd Airborne and other federal resources.

When Colmes asked why those resources were not sent, Safir answered that it was because there weren't experienced-enough people working at FEMA or Department of Homeland Security. Under further questioning from Colmes, Safir said that, essentially, DHS combined many smaller, dysfunctional bureaucracies into one huge bureaucracy. Safir also said the lack of a coordinated response at the city, state and federal level is a very serious problem. "We need to fix this and we need to fix it quick."

Everyone but Hannity seems to think so.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

We welcome your opinions and viewpoints. Comments must remain civil, on-topic and must not violate any copyright or other laws. We reserve the right to delete any comments we deem inappropriate or non-constructive to the discussion for any reason, and to block any commenter for repeated violations.

Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.