Lizzy Lynn asks:
One wonders: one of the reasons the Powers That Be were able to get away with this shit is that the media bought all the stories about “looting” and “insurrection.” They were used. Is there any part of the media—print, TV, whatever—that is capable of self-examination and can see this? Are they able to get mad about it? Or is all this insurrection-talk going to become part of the popular myth about what “really” happened in NO when Katrina hit, and end up being used as the justification for the government’s wretched behavior?
Just in case anyone missed this stuff: Matt Welch questions the accepted narrative here. Lenin’s Tomb asks very similar questions here. Digby reminds us of America’s long history of this kind of thing here.
The famously left-wing Chicago Tribune(1) provides background:
BATON ROUGE, La.—They locked down the entrance doors Thursday at the Baton Rouge hotel where I’m staying alongside hundreds of New Orleans residents driven from their homes by Hurricane Katrina.
“Because of the riots,” the hotel managers explained. Armed Gunmen from New Orleans were headed this way, they had heard.
“It’s the blacks,” whispered one white woman in the elevator. “We always worried this would happen.” […]
All it took to set the rumor mills in motion were the first TV pictures broadcast Tuesday showing some looters—many of them black—smashing store windows in downtown New Orleans. Reports later in the week of sporadic violence and shootings among the desperate throngs outside the Superdome clamoring to be rescued only added to the panic.
By Thursday, local TV and radio stations in Baton Rouge—the only ones in the metro area still able to broadcast—were breezily passing along reports of cars being hijacked at gunpoint by New Orleans refugees, riots breaking out in the shelters set up in Baton Rouge to house the displaced, and guns and knives being seized.
Scarcely any of it was true. […]
Of course there was violence in post-flood New Orleans. Pre-flood New Orleans wasn’t exactly an oasis of municipal peace. But it couldn’t be clearer that it was exaggerated by several orders of magnitude, and that these exaggerations have now been used to justify treating law-abiding Americans, many of them sick, injured, or exhausted; many of them people who faithfully followed the rules…as an “insurgency” to be corralled, detained, and abused.