Monday, September 19, 2005

It's A Duck

One of the first things I saw on television the day after we had our power restored six days after Hurricane Katrina hit was this interview on Meet the Press with the president of Jefferson Parish, Aaron Broussard. In the first half of the show, I was floored by Tim Russert's pitbull attack on the FEMA director, Michael Chertoff. But when Mr. Broussard's performance began, something just didn't seem right. The man started out saying "We have been abandoned by our own country". Well, he was upset, had obviously had a strenuous week, and I chalked up his bitterness to frustration. It did not occur to me that he was there solely to blame the hurricane problems on the President and the federal government for political reasons. Russert even asked him if he didn't think that the local government held some responsibility for the slow response. Broussard just continued his "we've been abandoned" theme. Silly me. I still believe that the main stream media has some honesty, or at least search for honesty in the people they interview. I was wrong.

BUT THEN, the man goes into this story about the local Emergency Management director's mother calling her son from a nursing home for four days AFTER the storm begging him to send someone to get her. She ended up drowning, he said. He broke down crying and Tim Russert quickly went on to interview the Governor of Mississippi.

Well, I immediately saw red flags popping up everywhere in this story. I felt bad having questions in my mind about this man's honesty because he was, after all, in the midst of a horrible natural disaster but some of the things in his story just did not sound right. First of all, I have had grandparents in nursing homes and as a rule, they don't have access to telephones. This is usually because most people put in nursing homes suffer from dementia. When they do get to a phone, they usually call the police and tell them that they are locked up in a glass house and someone is trying to push a giraffe through the plate glass window. So that was the first red flag. Then, according to Mr. Broussard, the man told his mother every day that someone would come and get her...for four days...and you know, I'm thinking "gee, if my mother called me from a nursing home in the midst of rising flood waters, I think I'd just have to tell everybody HEY! I'll be back as soon as I can. I gotta go get my mother since nobody else will". That was the second big red flag. The third red flag was from Tim Russert himself. After the man started crying he just said something like "well, I'll go on to Governor Barbour while you compose yourself". Again I'm thinking to myself "gee Tim, the man is a little upset. A tender word might be in order here".

Well, it seems that I am not the only one who had doubts about the story. According to MSNBC itself, the man's story was not exactly correct. They say he may have been mistaken. I say he may have been lying. Apparently, the poor lady did drown, but it happened at the height of the storm...not four days later because FEMA was so slow in coming to the rescue (since when does FEMA do rescues?). This article makes it sound as if innocent little Mr. Broussard just got the story wrong in his recounting. Perhaps. But if you read the transcript and his comments before the crying bit, about the federal government being the blame for it all, well, as they say, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, smells like a duck, acts like a's a duck. If a story smells's rotten. One of his statements before the crocodile tears began goes like this..."Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area...". Murder? That's a mighty harsh crime to blame on FEMA. Not surprisingly, bloggers began to question the validity of the story and I guess the main stream media forgot once again the power of the Internet. They really need to post a big sign on every office wall that says "REMEMBER THE INTERNET-WE ARE BEING WATCHED". This story may have been a mistake but what it sounds like is a blatant lie by a partisan Democrat using the death of a man's elderly mother as a means to bring dishonor to the President and more federal funds to his parish. How shameful is that?

And I thought the looters were the only ones taking advantage of a bad situation.