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2005 in Review--Katrina

Reported by Judy - January 1, 2006

A few times during 2005, Fox News' pundits let slip exactly how they feel about people less fortunate than they. These were comments that were stripped of ideological window-dressing typically used by conservatives to justify their selfish policies toward the unrich. The Hurricane Katrina disaster provided a few such candid moments.

Even as the hurricane was bearing down on the Gulf Coast, the pundits on "Special Report with Brit Hume" were telling the soon-to-be-homeless people of the area that they did not deserve government help because they chose to live in an area prone to natural disasters. Fred Barnes bragged that when his home in Florida was damaged by a hurricane, he paid for the repairs himself, along with his insurance company. The coup de grace, however, was the suggestion that the federal government cut off aid and essentially tell the people "Drop Dead."

While the pundits were giggling at how inappropriate it was for them to talk about cutting off disaster aid even as the hurricane was approaching landfall, Barnes made a prediction that turned out to be stunningly wrong: "And talking about what is going to be a massive supplemental spending bill that will undoubtedly pass overwhelming in the House and the Senate this fall. I also predict the president, if he's not already in New Orleans, will be there very soon. Maybe the water has to subside a little."

As we know, it took days for Bush to even wake up to what was going on.

Later, Fox News would tout the Bush line that George had wanted to come to Louisiana earlier but was told by state officials not to come as they tried to pin the blame for the disaster on local officials rather than the Bush administration. Neil Cavuto and the crew on his Saturday business contrasted Houston not being hit by Hurricane Rita to New Orleans being hit by Hurricane Katrina to show what a great job Texas did preparing for a storm that bypassed the state.

Sean Hannity did a stellar job of trying to absolve George Bush of any responsibility for the Katrina aftermath, insisting that only local Democratic officials were to blame. He repeated misinformation about state and local officials not accepting an Amtrak offer to evauate people, to use school buses, and to let in the Red Cross.

Who can forget John Gibson whining aout the failure of police to shoot looters on sight?http://www.newshounds.us/2005/08/31/gibson_whines_looters_not_being_shot_on_sight.php People needed to be rescued, given food and water, and all Gibson could do was run the same video of people taking a few pairs of pants out of a store whose contents were all ruined and insured anyway.

And the always compassionate Newt Gingrich showed up on Fox News to say the poor in New Orleans may be better off as evacuees than as residents of public housing.

On another "Cavuto on Business" show, Ben Stein explained how the average Joe or Jane Six-Pack can prepare for a disaster such as Katrina. Quoting from my original post:

"He suggested, and I swear I am not kidding here, that you have a lot of liquid assets ready (i.e. spare cash hidden in the house), have a second home in another part of the country not subject to the same type of natural disaster as your other home, and make arrangements with a stock broker to get money to you in an emergency.

"Even Cavuto pointed out that not everyone can afford a second home, but Stein was undeterred:

"I'm not saying everyone can do it, but everyone can take a couple thousand dollars, and put it in a safe place so that when a disaster strikes and the ATM's don't work, he or she will have enough money to go out and buy food even at gouging prices. Anyone can have a car that he keeps in a high, dry spot, and you're wrong by the way, millions, and tens of millions, have a second home."

Just think, if all those people in New Orleans were not so lazy, they would have bought second homes in the Rocky Mountains years ago and would not have had to ask the government to keep them in hotels all this time.

There were a few shining moments in Fox News Katrina coverage -- Shepard Smith begging for help for people stranded on the overpass without food and water is one. Geraldo Rivera complaining about New York Times coverage of his pushing aside an emergency worker to "help" rescue a hurricane survivor is not.

But the general drift of Fox News' Katrina coverage was slam the local officials, suggest the victims should not have been living there in the first place or were otherwise unworthy of federal help since they were poor or black or both, and claim Bush did everything right.


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