From Editor and Publisher:
In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: “Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston.”
Then she added: “What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this,”—she chuckles slightly—“this is working very well for them.”
“This is working very well for them.”
I read stuff like this and just a couple of things reel me in from having a stroke, or going and getting deliberately and thoroughly drunk.
One is the excellent advice posted on this very page earlier today.
The other is this post from China Miéville, reminding us to focus first on the primary events, not just the story about the spin.
While it’s right and important to point out how unprecedented the tone of the coverage of the catastrophe has been—this is not, I think, business quite as usual—there’s a real danger, in all the hyperbolic, increasingly self-congratulatory guff about how enraged and bolshy the media has been, how it is now “saved”, of focusing on form over the content, of being meta-scandalised about the meta-scandal of how scandalised the media is.Next to this, the unselfconscious depravity of Barbara Bush is small beans. It does make me want to say and do things I’ll regret. I’m beginning to think that’s its point.
To take a couple of examples that currently have the blogosphere aflutter. The point of this story for us shouldn’t be that Shep Smith shouted angrily at his Fox News anchor: the point should be that Shep Smith shouted angrily that the authorities were refusing to let people out, were deliberately turning them back if they make it to a checkpoint.
Or take the now-famous footage of Aaron Broussard, president of a local parish. The germane fact is not that he breaks down crying on Meet The Press, but that he breaks down crying after describing how FEMA refused his stranded community water and fuel, and then, in an astonishingly chilling flourish, cut their emergency communication lines.
MSNBC’s Meet The Press told the USA, coast to coast, that FEMA was deliberately cutting off communities from which it had withheld the resources necessary for life. The anchor then suggested that the sobbing Broussard “take a pause”, and changed the subject. Not hurriedly or defensively, but just because that wasn’t the point of the story. That I’ve seen, only one dissident reporter has stressed this fact (scroll to the 4 September report).
It isn’t enough to uncover these crimes. They’re already uncovered, naked, on the BBC, NBC, and Fox News. With all their angry focus on the “incompetence” (this could never be planned, after all), the newsreaders just know they’re not the point.