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Fox News Tries Misdirection on Katrina Tapes To Hide Bush Lie

Reported by Judy - March 2, 2006

Somehow, Fox News managed to miss the point of the video of pre-Katrina briefings in which George Bush was warned about the possibility of levees around New Orleans being breached by the oncoming hurricane. Instead, two news shows tried to direct the spotllight away from Bush to other people.

On "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on Thursday (March 2, 2006), Cavuto tried to make the issue of the video tapes into a question of whether ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown was owed an apology for his handling of the disaster. "He was saying and doing all the right things," Cavuto insisted.

Cavuto never noted the discrepancy between Bush being told that the levees might be swamped by the storm surge and his later statement that "no one could have anticipated the levees would break." As Marie Therese pointed out in her post from Wednesday, that statement was a complete lie as he was warned of the possiblity during the briefing.

Later, on "Special Report with Brit Hume," Mike Emanuel also left out the discrepancy between what Bush was told during the briefing and what he later told the American people. Instead, Emanuel focused on Senatre Democrats seeking an independent probe into the federal response to Katrina and with Brown blaming the Department of Homeland Security for the problems.

Hume's All Star Panel also forgot about Bush's statement. Hume accused The Associated Press of more or less being dishonest in suggesting that the video of the conference which it secured was confidential because part of the briefing was open to the press. And he stressed that the briefing tape only mentioned the levees being overtopped, not breached.

Bill Sammon, of the Washington Examiner, pooh-poohed the suggestion that the tape was proof Bush lied. "Not only is it not a smoking gun, it's actually a journalistic fraud," he said. Sammon read a statement from Bush at the time of the storm urging people to seek safety and said, "To suggest [Bush] was asleep at the switch and uncaring and disinterested, which is how it has been portrayed in the press, is completely bogus." Again, no mention of Bush's later statement that no one could have anticipated the levees breaking.

Sammon also stuck up for Brown, saying the "mainstream media" had ridiculed Brown in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and was now trying to rehabilitate him "for their own political purposes."

Portraying the video as newsworthy is hardly journalistic fraud. Reporters may have been present for part of the briefing, but average citizens were not. Now they can see the video for themselves and form their own conclusion about whether Bush was being truthful when he made his "no one could have anticipated" remark. What Fox is afraid of is that people will do just that, and reject their pro-Bush spin.

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