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Sean Hannity Puts Politics Over People's Lives

Reported by Ellen - September 20, 2005

Sean Hannity proved yet again he is more interested in promoting his own political agenda than anything else with regard to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Blindly refusing to consider any of the mis-steps of the federal government or President Bush, Hannity stubbornly repeated his same, tired accusations against the mayor of New Orleans in an apparently desperate (and so far unsuccessful) hope that would rescue Bush's sinking poll numbers. It's perfectly clear that discovering what really went wrong or what should be corrected is subordinate in Hannity's mind to what can be used to bail out the Bush Administration. It's also perfectly clear that Hannity doesn't even care whether or not he gets his facts straight in the process.

Last night's go-round of Hannity's blame-Mayor-Nagin presentation featured the unwilling co-star Vice Adm. Thad Allen, Director of FEMA's Katrina relief efforts. Allen replaced former FEMA head Michael Brown, who resigned shortly after being kicked off the project following heavy criticism of his job performance and his lack of credentials. In his relentless tirades about the "vulnerable people" hurt by offical bungling, Hannity has yet to discuss, much less scrutinize, anything about the role of FEMA in the hurricane response. Last night was no different.

Without asking a single question about the status of the recovery effort or how the imminent Hurricane Rita may affect that process, Hannity immediately tried to make Nagin look incompetent by focusing on his "reversal" of the reopening of New Orleans. Hannity obviously hoped to use Allen as a foil but was thwarted.

Hannity: Now that the mayor's reversed himself, it seemed to me that you had had negotiations with the mayor and the staff and that they were reluctant to go along with what was the obvious, smart thing to do here and it took a lot of public pressure on your part to get him to do the right thing, isn't that true?

Allen said he didn't get the mayor to do the right thing, the mayor did the right thing, that they both agreed new Orleans should be repopulated, it's just a question of when and how.

Hannity: There was clearly a standoff, no?

Allen said there wasn't.

But Hannity had an attack to mount and he wasn't about to let a guest who wanted to be diplomatic get in the way.

Hannity: My only point here is this: I think this mayor should resign, I think the fact that he left those buses without using them, hundreds of them, was a disgrace; the fact that he had 30 years warning about how catastrophic this could be and still didn't do anything; the fact that they had five days about how dangerous it was headed in their direction the fact that he has been blaming and carrying on the way he is and he didn't use Amtrak trains. So I just think this is an important point. It seems to me this mayor has not learned a lesson.

Allen, looking uncomfortable, told Hannity that the mayor's political standing is not his purview, just the co-ordination of the federal disaster response.

Comment: Not only did Hannity selectively assign blame away from the Bush Administration, he distorted the truth about what Nagin really did:

1. The buses. As per Media Matters:

"Even if the entire fleet was used," the Times-Picayune noted, "the buses would carry only about 22,000 people out of the city -- far short of the 134,000 people estimated to be without cars in a recent University of New Orleans study... Moreover, The New York Times noted that a number of New Orleans buses were in use as the hurricane approached: "But Chester Wilmot, an L.S.U. [Louisiana State University] civil engineering professor who studies evacuation plans, said the city successfully improvised. He said witnesses described seeing city buses shuttle residents to the Superdome before Hurricane Katrina struck."

2. The trains. As I posted on 9/15/05, the source for Hannity's allegation about the unused Amtrak train seems to be this Washington Post article which states that the Amtrak train could have held only a few hundred people, a drop in the bucket of those who needed to leave the city. Hannity also neglected to mention that Mayor Nagin claims he never learned of Amtrak's offer of assistance.

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