Ed Driscoll

"The Question Comes Back"

John Hinderaker of Power Line writes that the death toll in Louisiana is now “More or less” complete:

Authorities have completed the search for bodies in New Orleans, with the total known dead in all of Louisiana at 964. This compares, of course, to the claim that there were 10,000 killed in New Orleans alone, which was made by the city’s mayor and repeated endlessly in the media.

I still don’t see any sign of a meaningful self-examination by the media of its failed reporting of Hurricane Katrina.

And there won’t be one from the legacy media. But fortunately, in its successor, Hugh Hewitt, Mark Steyn and James Bowman have that covered.

Hugh had perhaps the most damning quote in his appearance on PBS’s News Hour, something that should give big media pause, but perhaps it’s too sclerotic in its aged form to notice:

Well, [Keith Woods, dean of the faculty at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in Florida] just said they did not report an ordinary story; in fact they were reporting lies. The central part of this story, what went on at the convention center and the Superdome was wrong. American media threw everything they had at this story, all the bureaus, all the networks, all the newspapers, everything went to New Orleans, and yet they could not get inside the convention center, they could not get inside the Superdome to dispel the lurid, the hysterical, the salaciousness of the reporting.

I have in mind especially the throat-slashed seven-year-old girl who had been gang-raped at the convention center — didn’t happen. In fact, there were no rapes at the convention center or the Superdome that have yet been corroborated in any way.

There weren’t stacks of bodies in the freezer. But America was riveted by this reporting, wholesale collapse of the media’s own levees they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in their own emotionalism. Exactly what Keith was praising I think led to one of the worst weeks of reporting in the history of American media, and it raises this question: If all of that amount of resources was given over to this story and they got it wrong, how can we trust American media in a place far away like Iraq where they don’t speak the language, where there is an insurgency, and I think the question comes back we really can’t.

Indeed, to use the successor media’s most popular adverb.