Ed Morrissey looks at yet another big media enviro-scare that wasn’t:
Remember the “toxic soup” that flooded New Orleans, the one that the media widely reported was so polluted that mere momentary exposure could burn the skin and create potentially mortal illness for Katrina victims? As with the widespread gunfire, rapes, and murders, the toxic soup turns out to be another media myth. The Washington Post reports that an extensive look at the floodwaters reveals that its composition appears equivalent to floodwaters anywhere else.
As Ed writes:
Of course, this is good news for the people of New Orleans who had to suffer from exposure to the water, but other than that, it makes little difference. The damage caused to structures comes from the water itself, as well as the mud and silt that come along with it. The rot that sets into structures throughout the basin will likely require total or near-total reconstruction efforts.
It does, however, demonstrate the toxic combination of hyperbolic media and sensational events. Not content with reporting the news that happened before their eyes, media outlets had to reach beyond the news to report events that never happened, all without doing even basic research to determine the veracity of their reports. How difficult would it have been for NBC or the New York Times to get a test of the water before unleashing reports on the so-called toxic soup? How about getting reporters to verify accounts of rapes and murders by the score before airing such rumors to a repulsed nation?
Yes, that would be a good first step. As I wrote last week:
I wonder which version history will ultimately remember–the media’s Weekly World News-style first draft, or what actually happened. Sadly, something tells me it will be the former.
(With apologies to Peter Gabriel for mangling the title of what’s actually a pretty nifty song.)