Where were you?
It only took the news media about two hours after Hurricane Katrina hit land before pundits started pointing fingers at George W. Bush and asking, “Where were you?”
Mainstream media, of course, knew the Fearless Leader’s location the whole time. He was on vacation. Pretending to be a rancher. Strumming his guitar. Visiting fundraisers.
Gosh, when Ted Koppel asked FEMA head Michael Brown the hard questions, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper actually spoke up against politicians kissing each other’s asses while rats were devouring corpses, and Geraldo Rivera uttered his tear-filled “Let my people go” from the Superdome, it felt like maybe American journalism had once again found its voice.
Admit it. It felt kind of good, didn’t it?
Now, allow us to turn the tables for a moment—to point out the complicity of the lickspittle, lapdog national media.
Where were you, mainstream media, when the president appointed Michael Brown to the position of FEMA director? Didn’t anyone think to ask the question of whether Brown was really an assistant city manager with “emergency services oversight” in Edmond, Okla., or was he really just an assistant to the assistant city manager?
Where were you, mainstream media, when in 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely natural disasters in the United States, but the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood-control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war? Except for a New Orleans Times Picayune series and a couple of other items, the media were AWOL.
The Associated Press reported on Aug. 29, “Some 6,000 National Guard personnel in Louisiana and Mississippi who would be available to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are in Iraq.” Where were the investigative powers of the AP when George W. Bush was trumpeting the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
The New York Times on Sept. 7 castigated Bush: “When President Bush blithely announced at a photo-op cabinet meeting that he, personally, was going to ‘find out what went right and what went wrong.’ We can’t imagine a worse idea. No administration could credibly investigate such an immense failure on its own watch.” Failure on its own watch? Where were you when Jayson Blair was telling his lies under your watch? And where were you when Judith Miller was telling hers (and continues to protect a lying source from her spot in a jail cell)?
Where was the mainstream media when Bush proposed tax cuts for the wealthy that would increase the number of people in desperate poverty in the United States—exactly the children who were left behind in the face of a Category 5 hurricane?
Where was the mainstream media when BushCo refused to hand over details of the formation of its energy policy that led to the high energy prices that were only exacerbated by the disaster?
Just where the hell were you, mainstream media, when people needed information to make a decision on how to vote the last two elections?
Yes, it’s quite probable that BushCo was responsible for untold deaths and preventable storm damage in our Gulf Coast states. But the mainstream media is responsible for BushCo.