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When sloppy journalism kills

When the MSM devolves into irresponsible and downright hysterical rumor-mongering, it's more than just bad journalism. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the dire and breathless reports coming from New Orleans likely slowed and hampered relief efforts. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecies....

Five weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans, some local, state and federal officials have come to believe that exaggerations of mayhem by officials and rumors repeated uncritically in the news media helped slow the response to the disaster and tarnish the image of many of its victims.

Claims of widespread looting, gunfire directed at helicopters and rescuers, homicides, and rapes, including those of "babies" at the Louisiana Superdome, frequently turned out to be overblown, if not completely untrue, officials now say.

The sensational accounts delayed rescue and evacuation efforts already hampered by poor planning and a lack of coordination among local, state and federal agencies. People rushing to the Gulf Coast to fly rescue helicopters or to distribute food, water and other aid steeled themselves for battle. In communities near and far, the seeds were planted that the victims of Katrina should be kept away, or at least handled with extreme caution.