Hurricane Katrina into another Bush-bashing exercise

BBC News 24 this morning managed to turn their headline report on Hurricane Katrina into another Bush-bashing exercise. Much of the focus was on the criticism of Bush and the slow response of the White House to the disaster.

Of course, we know that big government is often slow to act when it counts, but you’ll never hear the BBC admitting that that is true in general. You’ll never hear them admit that if big government is bad at disaster relief, which is the sort of thing that government should be there for (and should be good at) then maybe it’s not such a good idea to let the government run so much else in our lives. You’ll never hear them praise the swiftness of the private sector (such as insurance companies) in contrast.

Nor will you ever hear the BBC have any economist or insurance expert on to point out the harsh-sounding but elementary fact that the government’s continued handing out of compensation to the people who live near the coast and who have suffered from flooding undermines their incentives to take the proper precautions, get decent insurance, or even move somewhere less prone to flooding.

Nor was there the slightest bit of reporting on what is actually happening with the relief effort, just claims repeated over and over (from people who are unlikely to know what is happening) that Bush was to blame. For all we knew the relief effort was focused where it should be focused, on those thousands of people in dire need of medical care, rather than the healthy people sitting on the streets who are a bit hungry (which was clearly the case with the BBC footage, whatever the situation elsewhere).

But BBC reporters are remarkably good at finding disaffected poor black people and even more disaffected middle-class white lefties who can be relied upon to say the right things. We did get a tantalizingly brief shot of dozens and dozens and dozens of trucks driving somewhere in the distance, but wherever they were going, the BBC reporter wouldn’t be there.

No, he was focused on the fact that these people were living in filth, and they panned to a shot of some food containers in the gutter. It was pretty lame stuff — the street looked no different to the average London street. And why don’t they pick their rubbish up, you wondered? Even if the bins are full, put it in a pile, don’t just strew it everywhere. But this too was Bush’s fault.

(I don’t doubt that there were filthy scenes to be found in the city, but wherever the real filth was, the BBC reporter and the BBC cameramen weren’t there).

Another thing the BBC was doing was pushing the “These people were too poor to get away from the city”, the obvious insinuation being that being poor killed thousands of people and that this never would have happened had we affluent middle-class whites not given more money in taxes to the poor (even though I bet a lot of these people were on welfare anyway).

This sounds dubious to me. The warnings to the citizens could scarcely have been plainer: you must leave, the whole city will be ruined, you and your family will die if you stay, your house is going to be destroyed. That was literally what they were saying. The BBC is trying to convince us that all these people couldn’t afford even a bus ticket to get out of the city? (I bet there were free buses laid on anyway). How little resourcefulness do you possess if you can’t even get you and your little children away from what you know will be a flood zone when you have plenty of warning? If most of these people were on welfare, then doesn’t say much for welfare culture. I would have walked if nothing else was possible.

But of course there was another possibility that the BBC didn’t consider: maybe these people just decided to take their chances, not believing that the flooding would be that bad. The goverment always trying to scare you, they might have figured, this won’t be that bad. Why spend my money on a beat-up? It won’t affect me, anyway. I’d rather stay here and protect my house, etc. It is a wrench to walk away from your home knowing there’s a chance that it will be ruined and you won’t be there to try to protect it.

It was also noticeable that all the criticism of the government the BBC aired was directed at the federal government. But in US (like Australia) the state goverment is very important. So is the city government, although less so than the state government. Yet there was no criticism of the Louisiana state government anywhere in the report.

However, the BBC did air criticism of the levee situation – these were apparently inadequate. Yet somehow the BBC failed to inform us of the body that is responsible for the levees. Now, I’m no expert on the situation, but I suspect it’s the state government rather than the federal government who is responsible. But there’s little milage for the BBC in airing criticism of an obscure female Democrat governor rather than W.

And what about the Mayor? Isn’t it part of his job to try to make sure his city is adequately defended? But the only bit of news in this story involving the Mayor— a black man who defected from the Republicans to the Democrats — was the reporting of his criticism of Bush. There was no criticism of him reported.

(I’m not blaming the mayor or the state government, though. I don’t know the situation, I don’t know whether the levees were adequate, I don’t know what the expert assessment was beforehand. I don’t know what the costs would have been and how much money they had. Let the MSM speculate wildly and get it all wrong).

On top of all this, the BBC then outdid itself for chutzpah. They then reported in hushed tones that the UN was offering its help to the US! And they interviewed Jan Egeland, the UN emergency relief coordinator, in a most reverential manner!

You’ll remember how unbelievably hopeless the UN was when it came to the tsunami disaster in South-East Asia, and how brilliant the US and the Australians were. You’ll also remember how the BBC managed to minimize any reporting of the criticism of the UN at the time, and actually create the impression that the UN was playing a major role in the relief effort, even when this mostly consisted of relief efforts meetings in Geneva a month after the tsunami hit. And how they managed to downplay the role of the American and Australian governments. There’s one BBC rule for US Republican governments and another for the UN, it seems.

(Cross-posted at Blithering Bunny).

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