Posted: February 11, 2015 Filed under: Mediasphere, Think Tank | Tags: Brian Williams, French Quarter, Hezbollah, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, Israel, media, Mollie Hemingway, NBC, NBC News, NBC Nightly News, news, Television, The Federalist, The Washington Post
I could go on. The point is that he’s beginning to resemble Jen from the IT Crowd:
If Brian Williams were just a dude at the bar, he’d probably be your favorite dude at the bar. He has great stories and tells them well. The loquacious Williams is just an obscenely well-paid news reader. As Neil Postman put it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves To Death, “A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis.” And that’s how we like it — here’s a promo for a new CNN game show featuring anchors competing against each other. (Show ‘em who’s boss, Tapper!)
A Far Worse Kind Of Exaggeration
Some journalists have responded to the Williams spectacle by running defenses they’d never imagine using on others — such as that Williams had ordinary false memory syndrome. Others are just waiting for him to be pushed out or quietly get back to work.
Williams lied. I’m not defending him. But in a world of serial exaggerators and distortion artists, he’s the least of mainstream media’s problems.
Exaggeration and distortion is de rigueur for many political journalists.
Exaggeration is kind of what our media do. Now, part of this is defensible. At one of my first newspaper jobs, I would write unbelievably spare copy that accurately described the event or situation I was reporting on. My editor used to take his big red pen and scrawl, “So what?” across my copy, double underlined. It was a great edit. I had to learn how to make a story interesting and how to pull out the parts a reader would actually care about.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 9, 2015 Filed under: Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Banda Aceh, Brian Williams, Cadaver, Flood, French Quarter, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, NBC News, New Orleans, The Times-Picayune
The former general manager of the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, where Brian Williams has said he stayed while covering Hurricane Katrina, insists there’s no way bodies could’ve been floating past his hotel room during the storm, as the embattled anchor claimed.
“There is no physical way the water was deep enough for a body to float in,” Myra deGersdorff told The Times-Picayune on Sunday.
In a 2006 interview with Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Williams told a horrific tale of watching a dead body float past his hotel window after the levees broke.
“When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country,” he said.
His story has been called into question after he admitted to falsely claiming that he traveled on an Army helicopter hit by enemy fire while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 7, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Brian Williams, Deborah Turness, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, Lester Holt, Managing editor, NBC, NBC News, NBC Nightly News
Anchor Zombie Joins Viewer Zombies
John Nolte reports: Per an email from NBC News, Brian Williams just passed a note along to the NBC News staff that says he will not be hosting the Nightly News for the next several days. Lester Holt will take his place:
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.
As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”
Brian Williams is currently facing an internal NBC News investigation.
The hiatus comes just four days after Williams admitted that he had lied on the NBC Nightly News about being shot down in a helicopter over Iraq in 2003.
Since then, numerous questions arose about the truth of Williams’ apology, his Katrina reporting, and even a story about saving a puppy as a teenage volunteer firefighter.
Williams and NBC are obviously hoping that some time away will cool the scandal down enough to allow Williams to return. Time is unlikely to do either Williams or NBC News much good. The questions that have arisen in just a few days about other aspects of Williams’ reporting were low-hanging fruit. Williams has a decades-long career to investigate, and now a cloud hangs over all of it. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 6, 2015 Filed under: Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: 2003 invasion of Iraq, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brian Williams, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, Military helicopter, NBC, NBC News, NBC Nightly News, New York City
Brian Williams may have a hard time retaining his popularity with viewers considering the results of a survey commissioned by Variety regarding the news anchor’s false claims to have been on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq.
An overwhelming 80% think that Williams should no longer continue as a news anchor for NBC, according to a survey conducted Thursday by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev, who polled 1,000 people who either watched or read the anchor’s apology.
“It’s no surprise that super savvy audiences today didn’t believe Williams’ scripted ‘fog of memory’ explanation or his apology. Williams didn’t tell the story to thank a ‘special veteran’ but falsified the story to celebrate himself.”
— Celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev
If Williams keeps his seat in the anchor chair, he will have to face an uphill climb to regain viewers trust. Seventy percent of respondents surveyed by do not believe that Williams will overcome the mistake.
[Also see – Did Brian Williams lie about his Katrina experience, too? – hotair.com]
Eight out of 10 respondents reported that they will now struggle to believe what Williams says following his admission that he “made a mistake in recalling the events 12 years ago,” as he said during his Wednesday night newscast.
[See More: Blood in the Water: Media Critics Circle Brian Williams, Challenge NBC Anchor’s Job]
Seventy percent did not describe Williams’ apology as sincere, with 60% believing that the anchor attempted to minimize the significance of his fabricated story in his apology. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 27, 2014 Filed under: Politics, Think Tank, U.S. News | Tags: California, Claremont McKenna College, Death of Osama bin Laden, Hurricane Katrina, Keystone Pipeline, Polonius, Tomahawk (missile), United States Forest Service, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Washington State Community College
A look at some of the more entertaining recent headlines to come out of Obama’s America
Before the tryptophan in the turkey induces somnolence, give thanks for living in such an entertaining country. This year, for example, we learned that California’s Legislature includes 93 people who seem never to have had sex. They enacted the “affirmative consent” law, directing college administrators to tell students that sexual consent cannot be silence but must be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” and “ongoing throughout a sexual activity.” Claremont McKenna College requires “all” — not “both,” which would discriminate against groups — participants in a sexual engagement to understand that withdrawal of consent can be any behavior conveying “that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain.”
A severely moral California high school principal prohibited the football booster club from raising money by selling donated Chick-fil-A meals because this company opposed same-sex marriage. The school superintendent approved the ban because “we value inclusivity and diversity.” Up to a point. At a Washington state community college, invitations to a “happy hour” celebrating diversity and combating racism said white people were not invited.
George F. Will
writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary
in 1977. He is also a contributor to FOX News’ daytime and primetime programming. View Archive
At Broward College near Miami, a conservative who was asking students if they agreed that “big government sucks” was told by a campus security guard that she must take her question to the campus “free-speech area.” She got off lightly: The federal government has distributed to local police, including those of some colleges and school districts, more than 600 surplus MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) armored vehicles designed for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The federal government, which has Tomahawk cruise missiles and Apache and Lakota helicopters, used the code name “Geronimo” in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden but objected to the name of the Washington Redskins. The Department of Homeland Security, unsleepingly vigilant, raided a Kansas City, Mo., shop to stop sales of panties emblazoned with unauthorized Royals logos. A U.S. Forest Service article on safe marshmallow toasting did not neglect to nag us: It suggested fruit rather than chocolate in s’mores. The droll Orange County Register wondered, “Why not replace the marshmallow with a Brussels sprout?” The federal government’s food police began cracking down on schools’ fundraising bake sales: Step away from those brownies and put your hands on a fruit cup. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 9, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana, Nagin, New Orleans, Ray Nagin, United States Attorney
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Wednesday.
Nagin, 58, the two-term mayor who was the face of the city during Hurricane Katrina, joins a list of Louisiana elected officials convicted of misdeeds committed while in office. But he is New Orleans’ first mayor to be convicted and sent to prison for public corruption.
[LIVE coverage from inside the federal courthouse]
Nagin is expected to report to prison in coming weeks.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan handed down the sentence before a packed courtroom five months after a jury convicted Nagin on 20 of 21 counts of bribery, wire fraud, tax evasion and other charges. Nagin’s wife, Seletha Nagin, joined him for sentencing, as she did every day during the two-week trial.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Nagin was facing 20 or more years in prison, court records indicated.
“I do intend to downward depart from these guidelines,” Berrigan said after taking the bench.
Prosecutors in U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office called him a mayor “on the take.” He sold his office, they told the jury, for personal gain, which included lavish trips, cash and granite for his sons countertop business, Stone Age LLC.
Follow live coverage from inside the federal courthouse.
Reporting by Mark Waller and Andy Grimm of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
Posted: June 18, 2014 Filed under: The Butcher's Notebook, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Chuck Todd, Democratic Party, George W. Bush, Hurricane Katrina, NBC News, Obama, Washington Examiner
“This poll is a disaster for the president.”
For the Washington Examiner, T. Becket Adams reports:
President Obama‘s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent, a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of foreign policy issues, he has lost support from the Hispanic community and Americans actually think his administration is less competent than the Bush White House post-Hurricane Katrina, according to a new survey from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.
“…Lowest job rating, tied for the lowest; lowest on foreign policy. His administration is seen as less competent than the Bush administration, post-Katrina.”
In short, the poll is nothing but bad news for the president.
“…essentially the public is saying your presidency is over.”
[more about the WSJ/NBC News poll here.]
The survey would appear to be so bad, in fact, that NBC News’ Chuck Todd said Tuesday…(read more) WashingtonExaminer.com
Note: Chuck Todd says something interesting here, that’s left unexplained (in this clip) about 34 seconds in,
“What’s interesting, it’s a disaster for the president, it’s not a disaster for the Democrats.”
What? If so, that would be historically peculiar. A president’s unpopularity and disastrous failure that inflicts no damage to the party he leads? Seriously? Recall that Bush’s unpopularity–nearly identical–damaged the Republican brand so thoroughly that the effects linger to this day. Somebody explain how the Democratic party, in the public eye, is somehow insulated from Obama’s unpopularity.
“Effectively rewriting history to suit their agenda, the press will also inflate the legacy of Obama, once his final term is complete, reinventing him as a historic, noble, misunderstood figure of astonishing greatness.”
If true, the only explanation I can imagine is this: Once the press’s historic success at promoting and protecting its cherished president begins to fail, they can at least succeed in protecting their party’s brand. And let’s not kid ourselves, it’s their party. The media is overwhelmingly Democratic, donating millions to campaigns, actively working for the cause, its most influential members no longer even attempting to pretend otherwise. The media’s collective efforts to discredit Bush, smear Republicans, and fortify Democrats, could actually work. Chuck Todd may be right. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 31, 2014 Filed under: Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Democrats, Ed Rogers, Eric Shinseki, Hurricane Katrina, Jay Carney, Obama, Republicans
For The Insiders, Ed Rogers writes: This was probably the worst week of the Obama presidency so far. President Obama’s foreign policy reboot failed, the economy is in the tank, the VA scandal is a growing cancer on the presidency, criticisms of the administration’s forthcoming gratuitous plan to raise everyone’s power bill via regulations that will essentially shut down coal-fired power plants have already emerged, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned this morning and just a short while ago solid but beleaguered White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he is throwing in the towel. How could things get any worse for Obama and the Democrats?
“With all the debacles, calamities, failures, mistakes and plain old bad policies associated with this administration and the Democrats generally, it’s easy to get lured off-topic… Republicans should not take the bait…”
In terms of impact on the 2014 elections, Obama certainly seems to be doing his part for the Republicans. And as the old axiom goes, never interfere when the opposition is in the process of destroying themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 11, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Benghazi, Democratic, Democrats, Fox News Sunday, Hurricane Katrina, Republican Party (United States), Sandy Hook, Trey Gowdy, YouTube
On Fox News Sunday, Representative Trey Gowdy R-SC, the newly appointed chair of the Houses Benghazi select committee, accused Democrats of having “selective amnesia” when it came to fundraising off of tragedies, arguing they had no problem raising funds from everything from Hurricane Katrina to Sandy Hook.
Posted: April 15, 2014 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Baby boomer, Barack Obama, Democratic, Democrats, Generation Y, Hurricane Katrina, Millennial, Pew Research Center
Breitbart.com‘s Chriss W. Street reports: Barack Obama may be the Republicans’ best friend when it comes to educating 18-33-year olds of the Millennial Generation about the downside of voting for the Democrats’ economic policies. According to a report from the Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends, the 73.7 million Millennialsare “unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry— and optimistic about the future.”
This growing rejection of the Democrat Party will undoubtedly have consequences in the coming mid-term and presidential elections.
Millennials in 2008 were all about the Democratic Party, with only 38% identifying themselves as political independents. Millennials associated Republicans with “a wave of disappointments and embarrassments: Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, congressional corruption scandals, the mortgage crisis.” Millennials were extraordinarily motivated to turn out and vote in 2008 and even more motivated in 2012.
But 50% of Millennials now describe themselves as political independents, “near the highest levels of political disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century,” according to the latest Pew Research poll. This comes despite 43% of Millennials and about half of their newborns being Hispanic, Asian, and black, ethnic groups that have strongly favored Democrats in the past. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 9, 2014 Filed under: Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Democratic, George W. Bush, Hurricane Katrina, Obama, Obamacare, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, United States
According to a poll released Thursday from Investors Business Daily and TIPP, twenty percent of Democrats now oppose Obamacare, and over one in six want to see President Obama’s signature program repealed completely. A whopping 55 percent of Americans are against the law, the highest
number charted by IBD/TIPP since the inception of the poll question. Obamacare earns only 37 percent support. Support for repeal of the law has increased four points among Democrats over the last month alone.
Obama’s ratings in the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index now stand below George W. Bush’s
in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That’s driven largely by fear about Obamacare, given that almost four in ten Americans believe they will lose their doctors thanks to the law.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 22, 2013 Filed under: History, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fareed Zakaria, Federal Reserve System, Hurricane Katrina, Marshall Plan, New Deal, Paul Light, Paul Volcker
Fareed Zakaria writes: Washington is having one of its odd debates as to whether the Obama administration’s rollout of HealthCare.gov was worse than the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. But whatever the answer, if there is one, the real story is that both are examples of a major, and depressing, trend: the declining competence of the federal government. Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been saying for years that most Americans believe their government can no longer act effectively and that this erosion of competence, and hence confidence, is a profound problem.
“The federal service is suffering its greatest crisis since it was founded in the first moments of the republic,” scholar Paul Light writes in his book “A Government Ill Executed.”
Over the past decade, the federal government has had several major challenges: Iraq, Afghanistan, a new homeland security system, Katrina and Obamacare. In almost every case, its performance has been plagued with mismanagement, massive cost overruns and long delays. This was not always so. In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, federal agencies were often lean, well managed and surprisingly effective.Paul Hoffman, the administrator of the Marshall Plan, pointed out that his monumental project came in on time and under budget.
Some federal agencies still maintain a culture of high performance, including NASA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Reserve System and the Defense Department’s research arm, DARPA. But they are now islands in a sea of mediocrity.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 3, 2013 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Politics | Tags: Danziger Bridge, Hurricane Katrina, Jim Letten, Kurt D. Engelhardt, New Orleans, Times-Picayune, United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice
The Holder DOJ stopped at nothing to convict five New Orleans police officers.
Hans A. von Spakovsky reports: In a shocking case of “grotesque” misconduct by federal prosecutors, a federal judge in Louisiana has ordered a new trial for five New Orleans police officers convicted for a shooting on the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005 — in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — and for a subsequent cover-up. This is another black eye for the Holder Justice Department that the media have barely covered.
Participating in the misconduct that the judge said had created an “online 21st-century carnival atmosphere” was Karla Dobinski, a lawyer in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and the former deputy chief of the section. The reversal of the convictions is what Judge Kurt Engelhardt calls a “bitter pill” for Hurricane Katrina survivors, but his investigation of the matter provides an intensive inside look at the unprofessionalism of some of the lawyers at the Holder Justice Department, and also at the department’s attempts to obscure its misdeeds. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 13, 2012 Filed under: Mediasphere | Tags: Brendan Loy, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, New Orleans, New York, Sandy, Staten Island
Katrina or Sandy? Late warnings, confused and inadequate responses, FEMA foul-ups and suffering refugees
Is the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy turning into Katrina-on-the-Hudson? Pretty much, and that tells us some things about Sandy, and Katrina, and the press.
One parallel: A late evacuation order. Even before the storm struck, weatherblogger Brendan Loy — famous for calling for early evacuation of New Orleans before Katrina struck — criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for not ordering early or extensive enough evacuations in New York, and for making the “ignorant” statement that Sandy wouldn’t be as bad as a hurricane.
What Bloomberg said was, “Although we’re expecting a large surge of water, it is not expected to be a tropical storm or hurricane-type surge. With this storm, we’ll likely see a slow pileup of water rather than a sudden surge…So it will be less dangerous.” Ignorant at the time, this turned out to be dangerously wrong when Sandy struck and the sea surged.
After Sandy struck, some areas did worse than others, and FEMA — as with Katrina — got bad press. Manhattan was hit hard, but the outer boroughssuffered more. Staten Island residents say they wereforgotten by relief efforts and one press report called the island “a giant mud puddle of dead dreams.” Adding insult to injury, when another nor’easter approached the area FEMA closed its Staten Island office “due to weather.” Time called it “the island that New York City forgot.” Rudy Giuliani called FEMA’s performance “as bad as Katrina.”
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, refugees suffer in bitterly cold tent cities, while officials try to keep criticism quiet: “As Brian Sotelo tells it, when it became clear that the residents were less than enamored with their new accommodations last Wednesday night and were letting the outside world know about it, officials tried to stop them from taking pictures, turned off the WiFi and said they couldn’t charge their smart phones because there wasn’t enough power,” Bill Boman writes in the Asbury Park Press.
Then there are the gas shortages. These are primarily the result of storm damage. But they’ve been made worse by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s effort — joined by New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman — to crack down on “price gouging.” This politics hurts victims. It’s elementary economics that holding prices down depresses supply. If you could sell gasoline for $15 a gallon, lots of people would load pickup trucks with gas cans and drive to the storm area, alleviating shortages. (And at that price, people wouldn’t buy more than they needed.) If doing that risks arrest, they won’t. Political posturing over “gouging” leads to gas lines, further economic disruption and possibly lost lives.
So: late warnings, confused and inadequate responses, FEMA foul-ups and suffering refugees. In this regard, Sandy is looking a lot like Katrina on the Hudson. Well, things go wrong in disasters. That’s why they’re called disasters. But there is one difference.
Under Katrina, the national press credulously reported all sorts of horror stories: rapes, children with slit throats, even cannibalism. These stories were pretty much all false. Worse, as Lou Dolinar cataloged later, the press also ignored many very real stories of heroism and competence. We haven’t seen such one-sided coverage of Sandy, where the press coverage of problems, though somewhat muted before the election, hasn’t been marked by absurd rumors or ham-handed efforts to push a particular narrative.
That, I suspect, is because Sandy happened in an area that reporters know. Media folks found it easy to believe stories about New Orleans that they wouldn’t believe about their own area. New Orleans is full of black people and southerners, two groups underrepresented in the national media. Manhattan, on the other hand, is familiar turf. Count on the press to give its own milieu a fairer shake.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.
via Column: Katrina on the Hudson