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This may come as a shock

You may want to sit down for this one. It turns out that the MSM coverage of Hurricane Katrina was, in many cases, wildly exaggerated and, well, wrong.

Yes, friends, I know this is shocking! But difficult as it is to believe, the proof is right there in black and white.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."
The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling -- that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.
Follow-up reporting has discredited reports of a 7-year-old being raped and murdered at the Superdome, roving bands of armed gang members attacking the helpless, and dozens of bodies being shoved into a freezer at the Convention Center.

Fox News, a day before the major evacuation of the Superdome began, issued an "alert" as talk show host Alan Colmes reiterated reports of "robberies, rapes, carjackings, riots and murder. Violent gangs are roaming the streets at night, hidden by the cover of darkness."

The Los Angeles Times adopted a breathless tone the next day in its lead news story, reporting that National Guard troops "took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance."

It goes on from there, but you get the idea.

Now before I say anything else, I have a question. How many of us suspected from the get-go that the initial reports of disaster were grossly exaggerated, but didn't feel permitted to say so out of fear we might be seen as trying to downplay this tragedy? I certainly fell into this category. I mean, Christ, weren't things bad enough without such rampant hyperbole?

You know what's happened? With all the pressure to provide up-to-the-minute, real-time news, 24/7, and the increasing laxity in "nailing down" stories before airing them, the MSM has finally devolved into nothing more than an elaborate rumor mill.

Hell, they might as well just replace the evening news with a bunch of anchormen sitting around in a bar having conversations like

Anchor 1: Hey, I heard "Mikey" died from eating Pop Rocks!

Anchor 2: Yeah, well I heard "Beaver" died in Vietnam. And that dorky Jewish kid from "Wonder Years" is Marilyn Manson.

Anchor 3: Oh yeah? Well Rod Stewart got 50 gallons of jizz pumped from his stomach.

I mean, why the hell not? We're there already, so let's just abandon the pretense. It would be simultaneously more interesting and less dishonest.

Think I'm too harsh? I don't. I think I'm being damn charitable, in fact. Because given the media's performance during Katrina, some unsophisticated, red-state rubes might be forgiven for believing that the media actually wanted things to sound as dire and desperate as possible.

Gee, I wonder why that could be?


I hate it when people or news organizations exaggerate like that. The first thing I thought when Mayor Nagin started talking about the possibility of 10,000 dead were the estimates right after the WTC towers were bombed. I heard estimates of the same number then, too. Just wait until you get a solid count. Estimates like that just cause trouble.

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