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Last updated on July 27th, 2017 at 06:36 am
Dan Rather sure was impressed by mainstream Katrina coverage:
“It’s been one of television news’ finest moments,” Rather said … He likened it to the coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
“They were willing to speak truth to power,” Rather said.
Trouble was, they didn’t, as Mark Steyn pointed out:
The facts they put in front of us were wrong, and they didn’t talk truth to power. They talked to goofs in power, like New Orleans’ Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Compass, and uncritically fell for every nutso yarn they were peddled. The media swallowed more bilge than if they’d been lying down with their mouths open as the levee collapsed. Ten thousand dead! Widespread rape and murder! A 7-year-old gang-raped and then throat-slashed! It was great stuff—and none of it happened. No gang-raped 7-year-olds. None.
In the week following Katrina’s marauding of the Gulf Coast, American journalism magically awakened, arose from its glass coffin, and roused itself to impromptu glory …
In contrast to the invasion of Iraq, the network reporters and anchors covering the chaos and misery in the foul floodwaters of Louisiana and Mississippi were unembedded—free to report what was unraveling before them without military or government muzzlers playing chaperone. For once they didn’t have to behave as if they had electronic bracelets beeping their every move. To hear Fox New’s Shepard Smith release an angry howl that hasn’t been heard since Allen Ginsberg went atomic, to see CNN’s courtly Anderson Cooper tell Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu to wake up and smell the corpses (she got the message, later threatening to punch President Bush if the feds kept bad-mouthing local officials), to witness the sobbing breakdown of Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard as he told Tim Russert on Meet the Press about the drowning death of an emergency worker’s elderly mother, who had waited four days for a rescue that never came—it was like removing a lid and and releasing the pent-up truth.
Well, it was like releasing the pent-up truth … except for the truth part. It’s revealing of Wolcott and Rather that inaccurate reporting so awes them.