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September 26, 2005

Comments

von: good post. But: "I'm unwilling to accept that he's the Colossus of Idiotarianism, Eighth Wonder of the World, standing proudly over the fair seas of blog-topia." Why are you unwilling to accept this, exactly?

Remember this?

"I mean, as far as I can tell, the left doesn't care about terrorism, doesn't care about the Islamofascists, doesn't care about hundreds of thousands of people being murdered. All they care about is their own power. All they care about is regaining the presidency. All they care about is defeating President Bush. And, I think that the left, and by "the left" I'm including now almost the entire Democratic Party, you can count exceptions on your fingers, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, you can name the exceptions. The whole mainstream of the Democratic party, I would say, is engaged in an effort that really is a betrayal of America. What they care about is not winning the war on terror. What they care about is defeating President Bush. And I think that the positions that they're taking, the things that they're doing and saying, are significantly impeding the progress of the war, and give great encouragement to our enemies. And I indict them for that. I don't think they care about the danger to us as Americans nor do they care about the danger to people in other countries. They care about power."

Or this?:

"It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

Hyperbolic? Well, maybe. But consider Bush's latest master stroke: the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate... "

He has not gone insane. That would imply that there was some distance between him and sheer barking madness before today. And that ain't so.

I'm unwilling to accept that he's the Colossus of Idiotarianism, Eighth Wonder of the World, standing proudly over the fair seas of blog-topia.

Er, why?

Anarch: great minds, and all that. Or, well, minds, at any rate.

"gover-tainment." I love it; you should copyright that, von.

One of the hallmarks of the dingbatarian right is their total hostility to all forms of media that do not confirm their prejudices. Hindraker is the type specimen of dingbatarianism on the right. There are dingbatarians on the left but they are characterized by other features (total hostility to all things military for example).

"The alternative, of course, is that Hinderaker is f--cking insane."

Occam's Razor is your friend.

I suppose I ought to start a little subthread conversation about whether the list of question for the press really is a reasonable list and whether the press really did engage in over-the-top emotional manipulation instead of solid reporting, thereby ratcheting expectations out of the realm of reasonableness and provoking politicians to make ill-advised promises and gestures designed at saving their hides instead of solving problems.

The main thread conversation, of course, will consist of hooting and name-calling and accusations of insanity because, after all, ad hominem is just so doggone fun! Especially when it's done with all your friends. (With all due respect, of course.)

Slarrow, that is an interesting topic, but it is not what Hinderaker was saying.

He said the media's performance was the WORST.

Reading Is Fundamental.

Before changing subjects, you might share whether you agree or disagree with his evaluation.

If you'd like to make that contention, slarrow, I'm all ears. I've no idea how you intend to prove that the press coverage was somehow more at fault than the various agencies (instantiated in their member politicans as well as their various workers) in the death and destruction from Katrina, but I'm sure it'll be interesting. And fwiw the above is entirely unsarcastic, though I know it sounds otherwise.

As for the ad hominems, however... well, no, it's not particularly fun, it's particularly apt. I say this not because I differ from Hinderaker politically -- there are plenty of whom that's true, yourself included, whose character I would not besmirch -- but because, well, Hinderaker's a loon; and that opinion is based not on partisanship but on actually having read myriad examples of him, well, being a loon. [Hilzoy's got a few stellar examples above; more are certainly available on request.] When faced with a commentator -- nay, pundit! -- of such loony caliber as Hinderaker, the appropriate response is hooting and name-calling and accusations of insanity and mockery and disdain and ostracization from the general conversation.

[To be clear: Had this been Hinderaker's first expostulation, I'd let it ride; everyone's entitled to a dingbat post now and then. This isn't his first, it's not his second and nor will it be his last: it's his MO. As such, he deserves nothing but shaming and mockery at every turn until he desists from this craptacular behavior.]

Slarrow:

Two thoughts:

1. Saying that person X is idiotic because their idea Y is stupid may be rude, but it isn't an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack is to say precisely the reverse: that idea Y is stupid because person X is an idiot; that is, to ad hom someone is to argue against their ideas without address their ideas (but rather solely the person).

IOW, if I had said "This idea is stupid because it was proposed by Mr. Stupid head John Hinderaker," you'd have a point. Since I said the exact opposite, you don't.

2. I'm all for answer each and every one of Hinderaker's points. My disagreement comes with the whole "Congressional investigation" angle; that is truly idiotic.

FTR:

My disagreement comes with the whole "Congressional investigation" angle; that is truly idiotic.

Also not a fan of the MSM was the "worst" claim, either.

Quite interesting thing happened just now. I had gone to the Power Line piece, read it in its entirety, and had written the following:

For the serious subthread (free of snarkiness this time), I offer this: take the segment "But it now appears clear that the worst performance of all was turned in by the mainstream media. Congress should promptly investigate..." out of the picture and read it without those claims. (Frankly, I don't find them that vital; the charge that the press did poorly can stand perfectly well without having to claim that they did the worst job, and having Congress investigate is a terrible idea for its own reasons. But having someone--e.g., bloggers--ask those questions would be fine.) Without that low-hanging fruit, what is inaccurate or overreaching about what the media actually did, and what's wrong with the list of questions proposed?

Then, while previewing, I read Anderson's snarky observation about reading being fundamental. (You don't say.) I trust that I've answered the main concern Anderson raised.

I'll add one more point: once the minor overreaches about "worst performance" and "Congress investigates" are gone, it doesn't work very well just to keep attacking Hinderaker. If you want to dismiss this by saying, "Hinderaker's so loony that he said X and Y and thinks bad reporting was worse than people dying," then let's imagine John's slightly more stable cousin who has the same list and thinks the media did not do well without all that other baggage. What do you say to him? That is, once all the low-hanging fruit is gone, is there a serious argument here?

slarrow:

I suppose I ought to start a little subthread conversation about whether the list of question for the press really is a reasonable list and whether the press really did engage in over-the-top emotional manipulation instead of solid reporting,

Although I agree that "Over-the-top emotional manipulation" and "the press" are tautological ("You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war"), here is a sample Hindraker question:

Did the widespread breakdown in accurate reporting stem only from a failure to follow proper journalistic standards, or did it also reflect a deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration by passing on unconfirmed rumors as fact?

That's a Star Chamber question. To say, "There was no deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration" is exactly the kind of lie you would expect from someone who's out to damage the Bush Administration.

slarrow: Without that low-hanging fruit, what is inaccurate or overreaching about what the media actually did [...]?

You mean as opposed to every other way in which the media's focus (in general) on sensationalism and conflict in the pursuit of ratings compromises their journalistic integrity?

The difference here, of course, is that Hinderaker and those of his ilk are not making allegations against the "MSM" with the goal of improving it. The aim of these allegations are to shift blame away from the Bush administration.

von: I'm unwilling to accept that he's the Colossus of Idiotarianism, Eighth Wonder of the World, standing proudly over the fair seas of blog-topia.

I'd go with the Colossus of Idiotarianism, since it seems he grants +1 stupidity to any post already producing stupidity on that blog.

slarrow,
glad you are hanging tough there. As Anderson points out, your question is orthogonal to what is being discussed here, but I'm certainly willing to discuss it. However, I think we have to also ask if the press can control its actions? I say that because it seems like there is a feedback loop that stories that attract attention get attention. Ironically, it was the ability for the press to enter and transmit in places where FEMA could not that amplified the story. The amount of broadcasting from Mississippi was a lot less because (I think) the roads were impassable. This gives the MSM a lot less credit for shaping coverage, but looking at the way the Rita coverage went, I don't think it is wrong.

I also am not sure what you had in mind when you say
thereby ratcheting expectations out of the realm of reasonableness and provoking politicians to make ill-advised promises and gestures designed at saving their hides instead of solving problems.

Which politicians were making "ill-advised promises" to the MSM? The problem imo was that you had people saying that there were already supplies/manpower when, if you looked at the live feed, was obviously not true. That is not the making of ill-advised promises, that is CYA that is refuted in real-time.

von, I think your setup actually strayed into ad hominem--but I'm going to make a distinction you may not agree with. When you begin the piece with "either this is satire or he's insane", you denigrated the idea before presenting it by giving a choice of "he didn't mean it literally" or "he's crazy." (A false dichotomy there, actually.) You didn't allow for a third possibility: that someone of sound mind could reasonably think this (the whole " Colossus of Idiotarianism" thing.)

Now, rhetorically, this is indeed argument against the person, and the commenters on this thread have picked up on that. I will concede, however, that you yourself have not committed the logical fallacy of ad hominem. Indeed, now that I reread things, no one's committed that fallacy because no one's actually said Hinderaker's main argument is wrong because he's insane. They just seem to like calling him names.

So I am indeed in error: the commentary thus far (at the time of this post) doesn't even rise to the level of ad hominem because it's not saying he's wrong, it's just saying he's stupid or crazy or a dingbat or an idiot. And if this thread is just going to be about calling John Hinderaker names, then there's not really anything about that which interests me (thereby writing off another ObWi discussion.)

For the record, I think there can be a reasonable case made for Hinderaker's strong claim, although I do not agree with it. I also do not yet know if the media (or other people, actually) really has performed as badly as is starting to be suggested because I don't know the actual facts on the ground in terms of death tolls, crimes, and the like. It's still all anecdotal, and thus I am wary. But that's the discussion that piques my interest. And I too agree with you that Congressional investigation is a terrible idea.

So, that's that. Time to preview and see what else people have said.

Von: Second Susan's observation - Govertainment is genius. And, from your other post, congrats on the Vonette to come. You're gonna love it (being a dad).

liberal japonicus: thank you for the kind words. As to your first question, I think the press certainly can control its actions--but only if there is a large enough blowback that the particular tactics involved start making press organizations lose money, viewership, or prestige. (Here I've got in mind something like the ramifications from Memogate with Dan Rather.) The sole redeeming feature of a Congressional inquiry is the potential magnitude of such an act could produce that kind of disincentive to rush too quickly to purely attention-driven stories. (But I don't think it would work; rather, I think all the bad things would happen and none of the good things were Congress to investigate.) I'm not very hopeful, but I think it can be done.

As to your second point, I see that I was unclear. The ill-advised promises I have in mind weren't to the MSM but rather in the form of rushing billions of dollars into the Gulf Coast without commitments to oversight, recognition of the nature of Louisiana politics, or proper respect for the roles of local vs. federal government. So I'm saying that the emotional manipulation that happened then is a significant cause of the mistakes being made now. The political calculus seems to be: coverage of what we did during storm made us look bad, now let's spend and grandstand to make us look good again. That's what's got me concerned.

(Indeed, the serious strong Hinderaker position I would articulate would follow from those points, that overwrought media coverage pressured people in haste to abrogate further Constititional safeguards for political reasons, providing more long-term damage than the immediate death toll and property damage that can be attributed to malfeasance or incompetence. But I don't hold that position mostly because it relies too much on speculation.)

slarrow sez: "there can be a reasonable case made for Hinderaker's strong claim ... I don't know the actual facts on the ground"

the first is opinion; the second is fact. But the opinion does NOT logically follow from the fact statement.

If one is ignorant of the key facts, then one is not in a position to assert that a "reasonable" case exists regarding the interpretation of those facts.

for example: "I, Francis, believe that a reasonable case exists that the moon is made of cheese. I am ignorant of the facts regarding the moon landings."

now, perhaps the moon is made of cheese and there is a massive conspiracy to hide that fact. but my assertion that a reasonable case exists to argue that the moon is made of cheese is unfounded.

Is it possible that the reasonable case referenced by slarrow could exist? as any number of experts have said on the witness stand in bad TV, anything is possible. most, however, are extremely improbable.

but absent more facts, slarrow is too quick off the mark to say that hindrocket could be making a reasonable case.

[i think i used up my meta for the whole week in this comment.]

Indeed, now that I reread things, no one's committed that fallacy because no one's actually said Hinderaker's main argument is wrong because he's insane. They just seem to like calling him names.

First, Hinderaker doesn't have a "main argument" per se; he's making a declaration in pursuit of a point that you yourself concede is overblown. Argumentation as such doesn't really factor in.

Second, his argument, such as it is, focusses on one factor to the exclusion of others. Misreporting was not merely one among many in his narrative, it was the primary cause of disaster in New Orleans (hence the Congressional inquiry). This is ludicrous on its face for any of a number of reasons -- again, at your own admission -- which in turn discredits his post, or at least the underlying premise.

Third, while the questions contain germs of interest, they aren't exactly what you might call unbiased. His hypothetical brother John would likely get an answer to his version of this posting because, presumably, he wouldn't have asked the questions like that. As things stand, I'd either have to accept Hinderaker's frame -- which I don't -- or take the time and effort to readjust his frame into one more capable of supporting a legitimate series of questions -- which I don't have -- in order to make any pretense at giving these hypothetical ur-questions the answers they deserve.

Fourth, to reiterate my previous point: I don't particularly like calling Hinderaker names. I do, however, think that many epithets hurled in his general direction are warranted, and I have no problem with him personally being excised from the general conversation. His less-loony brother John didn't write this post (and had he done so, he would have almost certainly it written differently, thus negating the point); Hinderaker did and that needs to be taken into consideration.

[Note to the over-excited: I'm not advocating suppression of his speech. I'm advocating derision of his speech, as well as general shunning. There's a small but important distinction.]

Finally, if you would like to reassemble what you consider to be the good points about Hinderaker's post into a post of your own and supply it here, I'm sure the commentariat here would be happy to engage you in debate. [I certainly would if I have the time or wherewithal to do so.] As currently constructed, though, I don't see the point in me going through Hinderaker's post and extracting potentially interesting points solely to play Devil's Advocate in a frame of "loony"* construction.

* I actually hate calling people loony, by and large, so I'll stop doing that now. It's been a convenient proxy for the duration, though, so I should give it some credit.

OK. So a little googling shows "govertainment" in use since at least 2003. Still, gotta love it. And while we're at it, I give "Colossus of Idiotarianism" high marks for style... and it is, to my mind, right on the mark.

The ill-advised promises I have in mind weren't to the MSM but rather in the form of rushing billions of dollars into the Gulf Coast without commitments to oversight, recognition of the nature of Louisiana politics, or proper respect for the roles of local vs. federal government. So I'm saying that the emotional manipulation that happened then is a significant cause of the mistakes being made now

Gotcha. But Hindraker's said nothing about how MSM coverage may have manipulated the admin into over promising aid. In fact, if Hindraker did that, he would be making a rather interesting critique of the admin, which is that they aren't strong enough to stay the correct course and some emotionally manipulative coverage has them pulling their checkbook out just to make it stop.

On a side note, complaining in advance about "hooting and namecalling" you imagine will be done by people here, yet excising claims from Hindraker, who doesn't seem to be participating here, in order to extract whatever points seem reasonable, seems to me to have things backwards. I'm thinking that you should cut more slack to the people who are actually talking to in order to keep temps down rather than give the benefit of the doubt to someone who may not even know we exist. I'm not suggesting this to encourage dragging Hindraker around the walls of the city, but to hold off on arguing with points in advance of them being made.

Slarrow -
Hindrocket made, as you say, a strong claim - that our first priority in the wake of Katrina, our most urgent task of reform, is to ferret out liberal media bias in the coverage of the aftermath. If I'm not mistaken, that claim by Hindrocket, and not some cleaned-up, ideal version, was the subject of von's post, and thus, most of the comments.

As for your imaginary Hindrocket, stripped of this utterly characteristic idiocy - what of his questions? Yes, the media probably did pass along unsubstantiated rumor, but what I saw was a lot of confused, fragmentary reports, all of which were constantly changing, caveated, and contradicted by ongoing events. The entire country was ravenous for information from down there, and the media threw whatever scraps it could find down the swallowing throat; some true, some not. It was not a great performance, but it in no way surprised me. It was all rough-draft, all the time for three days, much like what happened after 9/11. As for some intentional media conspiracy to make Bush look bad, what I saw was a constant parade of talking heads downplaying, even mocking, the idea that the feds carried any blame, until the story of Mike Brown's utter lack of qualifications for his job intersected with the unfolding horror at the Convention Center, at which point the media did what it always does; it turned like a school of sharks, and swam for the blood.

Oh, and by the way, when you first weighed in on this thread, mourning the ad hominems, there were a grand total of 6 comments, only 4 of which were about Hindrocket, and one of those consisted almost entirely of HR's own words.

And if this thread is just going to be about calling John Hinderaker names, then there's not really anything about that which interests me (thereby writing off another ObWi discussion.)

OK; good point. I'm guilty of starting us off on a bad tack.

Two final responses and then I'm away from computers until late tonight or early tomorrow. And even then, who knows.

Francis: There's no conflict between the two statements I made. A reasonable case can be made before the complete set of facts are in--provided that any assumptions being made are explicitly identified as such so that care can be taken in evaluating the strength of conclusions. But given the report that Hinderaker is responding to, a reasonable case could be made about the inflation of bad news (rapes and murders in the Superdome, total deaths nowhere near 10K, etc). I myself, however, would not do so because I wouldn't want to hinge something on data that's still coming in (FINAL numbers on death toll, property damage, etc.)

This, however, is a far cry from an argument from ignorance that you seem to think I'm making. Neither I nor Hinderaker would be making stuff up with no evidence, nor did I say anyone was doing so. Claims that the MSM did very poorly are light years away from "the moon is made of cheese" scenario (although my Wallace and Gromit DVD suggests otherwise.)

Anarch: thank you for your serious reply. Quickly:

(1) I agree he doesn't explicitly state a formal argument here; his conclusion, however, seems to be that the MSM failed badly and that the news reports he cited support that conclusion. But this does perhaps set the tone of things on this side.

(2) I disagree that he's claiming the MSM is the primary cause of the disaster. He suggests they hurt rescue missions and that their performance did not match expectations to a greater degree than other bodies did. But I don't think you can get "the way the MSM acted made more people die or the hurricane hit" out of what he said. Minor thing, though.

(3) I agree that there's a bias in them, but I don't think his hypothetical cousin has to phrase them any differently because it's not required that one believe that the MSM was the worst (only bad) to formulate the questions. But I can certainly understand the reluctance to try to strip the framework away and get to the heart of the matter. It takes time and effort and invites misunderstanding with no guaranteed payoff and the distinct possibility of pain (which is why I've left many threads here alone already.)

(4) I think this is a classic your-mileage-may-vary observation.

(5) Like you, I run short of time and energy to extract the relevant points under my own name on this thread. Part of that is because I really don't want to spend that much time here.The best I'm hoping for is to tweak the thread into something that I hope might be fruitful before real life calls, especially because I think there's actually something here.

Thanks for the response; gotta run.

John Cole has an interesting post which talks about the media inflating rumors and having trouble reporting facts here and he talks convincingly about why it is an important thing to look in to because media coverage spurs (often cynically exploitive political response) here.

JFTR I think there are some real clunkers in John's post and a failure to take Tim Russert to task for being more interested in a (failed) gotcha than truth.

Not a joke: Brown just hired by FEMA to run the evaluation of FEMA's response to Katrina.

Since when has the contention "John Hindraker is a crazy wingnut who is entirely too convinced of his own superiority to a Main Stream Media boogeyman of his own invention" been at all controversial? If the evidence thus far in his career can be described as insufficient, then what standard does one have to reach to be qualified as a barking madman? Are we going to have to stop mocking "Kaye;" Grogan! as well?

Rilkefan: you misunderstand. It is a joke. Just because it's true doesn't mean it's not a joke.

Hi -- I just read John Cole's piece. I didn't want to read through the over a hundred comments, but he has one thing wrong: he writes:

"Did firemen fly across the country only to be used as props by Bush? Nope."

And he links to a Kevin Drum piece which says only that the picture that circulated widely of firefighters with Bush was not a picture of the same firefighters who were, in fact, flown across the country to be used as props by Bush. They are other firefighters altogether. (I know because I didn't use that picture when I wrote about this, since I checked the date and it was all wrong.)

But it's the photo that was wrong, not the story. (And the photo was put with the story by bloggers, not the media. I think I first saw it on kos, but who knows where it originated.)

hilzoy, that was clearly explained to John in the comments - well, as explained there John might be considered to have narrow technical grounds to stand by his claim - the firemen were sent to be props but due to happenstance twice failed to so serve.

And note that he says, "only to be used". He's ok if they were sent to be props but also to give out flyers with FEMA's phone number.

John Cole also says that he doesn't want to call Broussard a liar, but nonetheless accuses him of telling falsehoods.

Meanwhile, it looks like I might win that December 5th challenge about Mike Brown still being employed by FEMA. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Wait a second, Jes. It's undisputable that Broussard told "falsehoods." Even Broussard acknowledges that he was wrong.* The only issue is whether it was a lie -- i.e., an intentional falsehood -- or a mistake -- i.e., an unintentional one.

*Broussard was on "Meet the Press" last Sunday in the States: to me, his tears seemed a bit too on cue and, although I have no particular knowledge regarding his mental state, I can't say I find him particularly credible.

John Cole also says that he doesn't want to call Broussard a liar, but nonetheless accuses him of telling falsehoods.

Since my comment on Balloon Juice is "awaiting moderation" and I want to quash this silliness as quickly as possible, I'll excerpt that comment wholesale. Apologies for the redundancy.

Since this is actually within my professional domain:

“Lie” != “Falsehood”.

If Merriam-Webster says they’re equivalent then they’re either wrong, or so far within colloquial discourse as to render the whole exercise moot.

If I say “2+2=5”, I uttered a falsehood; I (almost certainly) did not lie. If I say that my grandfather died in 1984 but I misremembered and he actually died in 1985, I uttered a falsehood; I did not lie. If I say that ten people died in a car crash on the interstate but it turns out the local news misreported the events, I uttered a false; I did not lie. To lie, there must also be intent to deceive, none of which intent is present in any of the three examples I just gave.

You can, as I have, argue that there are other behaviors that should perhaps become encompassed by the term “lie”, e.g. Frankfurtian “bullshitting” (complete indifference to the truth) or what I’ve sometimes called “negligent lying” (repeating statements without bothering to check their accuracy first), but a) that’s a long way off and b) none of those apply here. So lay off this whole “falsehood”/”lie” schtick since it’s undermining whatever point you’re trying to make.

I think it is worth discussing some specifics with regard to media failure. It is pretty clear at this point that the media wildly exagerated lawless behaivior in New Orleans. They played on racist stereotypes which contributed to the tragedy by making people afraid of the survivors.

I'm not really inclined to give Hindrocket the benefit of the doubt here, but maybe Slarrow raises some valid points.

Slarrow- How about trying to find the valid points raised by people like that academic who thought the people working in the world trade center were "little Eichmans" too? I think it would be an exercise that could lead to much good discussion or at least some amusement.

Anarch- I don't know if its worth trying to make this distinction. After all everything Bush said in the lead up to war was at least a falsehood. Just point out that Broussard is an amateur next to Bush.

Frank, your "little Eichmanns" comment might I think be miscontrued - I'm probably doing so right now.

I'll defer to Anarch on the technical use of "falsehood", but I will assert he's lost the battle in standard English - "lie" is definition 1 in my dictionary. Anyone wanting to be clear to a random reader will not use it in the technical sense.

rilkefan: You're right about that by and large, but that's not so much "falsehood" being misused as it is "lie" being misused and "falsehood" getting the blowback.

rilkefan: Not a joke [via Kos] Brown just hired by FEMA to run the evaluation of FEMA's response to Katrina.

This, on the other hand, is a joke.

"consultant" (definition): someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time.

(Alternate definition): a person to whom you hand your wallet, who informs you as to the amount of money that used to be in it.

How fitting this is.

(I am a consultant, so I'm allowed to tell these jokes.)

*Broussard was on "Meet the Press" last Sunday in the States:

Was it really just last week?

At any rate, Slart, Gary and I had a bit of knockdown over this, so I'm not anxious to restart that particular campfire. However, what bothers me about that is precisely what bothers me (and it seems others) about how Slarrow's original comment fits in here. Someone makes some overarching accusation (and writing the following
Like a lot of people, I didn't think Broussard's story passed the "smell test". We were right: He was lying.
is overarching) and someone else obligingly cites it as proof, saying that well, if we cut off the noxious bits, they may have a point. Time is spent parsing the words, but, as Anarch notes, the frame remains. I contrast this with Hilzoy's comment, in what seems like an eternity ago

I don't get bent out of shape by what people say two days after large chunks of their home state have been destroyed.

I respect people enough believe that you don't think you are simply reprocessing crud, but practically, that is what it comes off as. What makes it worse is that Broussard listed a number of points before he broke down that have been completely lost. Here's what he said:

We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.

It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives.

We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.

I'm not sure what points of the above seem debatable. Sure, you could say that oh, you can't trust Congress, or that Cabinet level directors don't guarantee attention, but that is quite different than worrying about whether Broussard got his days correct or whether redirecting is the same as cutting off.

Media failure is as common as Powerline bias. Dogs bites man, in either case. More common even. Media success, that's what I'd like to see . . .

A question for those who believe that the media coverage played a crucial part in worsening the emergency response, and who are in general supportive of the Bush administration:

Why were they so reliant on the media, rather than having their own sources of information?

Serious question. It was my impression that agencies like FEMA and the National Guard ought to be capable of finding things out without depending on external channels of information, which are inevitably prone to various sorts of deliberate and accidental error that would interfere with their ability to do their job. If this isn't true of them now, shouldn't it be?

Particularly now? I don't believe in the existence of an MSM broadly hostile to the Bush administration...but your president does, and many of you do. Given its existence, isn't it grossly irresponsible to leave the agencies of emergency response dependent on it? I mean, taking the body of conservative commentary on the major media organs throughout the Bush administration, why on earth would you think it smart to leave so much up to them?

This looks to me like a massive indictment of policy and execution failure on the part of the Bush administration, given my premises and even more strongly given yours.

Bruce- Presedenting is hard work. :)

When I pointed out there were media failures I should also have noted media successes. Specificly had Bush gotten permission to declare martial law at the begining of this catastrophe and kept the media out as he later tried to no one would have found out about the people at the convention center until they were all dead.


Hinderaker's statement ("the worst...") actually makes sense - if you realize he's only concerned with *damage to the president's reputation*.

From that perspective, all the deaths, all the governmental incompetence, would have done the President little damage - if they had not been reported. Therefore, the media was the worst-acting party.

It's a variation on the idea that the real problem with Abu Ghraib was that the media reported it.

Well, now, my name on the front page. Interesting. Now for a few quick hits to close up my thoughts on this thread.

liberal japonicus: that argument actually states what I believe; Hinderaker may or may not believe it, but I don't think he made that claim in that post. Furthermore, I would mean that as a critique of the administration. Being a conservative, though, I would attribute it to battle fatigue and a mismatch between our respective fiscal goals rather than a "strength" problem (the former two concern me more than the latter, anyway. YMMV.) And thank you for the gentle reminder that I ought not begin half-cocked; it was very delicately done.

von: classy admission. Very admirable.

Anarch: I swear I've written what you wrote about falsehood v. lie somewhere else for another context altogether. The distinction may not be popular, but it is important.

Bruce: I think the complaint about the media comes in two parts. The part related to the Bush administration has to do, I believe, with the emotional stories and the why-aren't-you-doing-something reaction it caused, leading to scapegoating and blame-shifting and overspending (from my view, at least.) If the stories told by the MSM that led to this reaction were based on things that just weren't true, that engenders irritation about the MSM's role in creating news instead of reporting it. And I think the administration did have their own sources of actionable information. Indeed, part of the Bush team's response seems to indicate that they were keyed into their network instead of the news everyone else was seeing; it was that disconnect that's produced the political pressure. What's it going to mean if, after all the waters have drained away, if the administration's picture was closer to reality than the MSM everyone else saw? But that's speculative.

The interference angle, on the other hand, I think is connected to the efforts of local authorities to figure out what was going on in order to help or call in help. Those people may or may not have the same access to those external networks you cite. But in a murky information picture in which reporters keep asking questions about things that authorities don't know anything about, is it worth the risk to ignore those incomplete reports, no matter how many end up being false positives?

I continue to be impressed by Honore's admonition that the press is "stuck on stupid" by trying to play "gotcha" instead of trying to get vital information out. But that's another thread.

Finally, here's a joke for ral to add to the collection:

A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of the dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a Broni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the shepherd... "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?" The shepherd looked at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looked at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answered "sure".

The yuppie parked his car, whipped out his IBM ThinkPad and connected it to a cell phone, then he surfed to a NASA page on the internet where he called up a GPS satellite navigation system, scanned the area, and then opened up a database and an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas. He sent an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, received a response. Finally, he prints out a 130-page report on his miniaturized printer then turns to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1586 sheep. "That is correct; take one of the sheep." said the shepherd. He watches the young man select one of the animals and bundle it into his car.

Then the shepherd says: "If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?", "OK, why not." answered the young man. "Clearly, you are a consultant." said the shepherd. "That's correct." says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?" "No guessing required." answers the shepherd. "You turned up here although nobody called you. You want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you don't know crap about my business......

Now give me back my dog."

Bwha-ha-ha re consultants.

Re "falsehood", why not just say a statement is false and have everybody understand?

And while we're on the subject, is there a precise word for "false statement intended to convey the truth"?

Slarrow, could you point me at comments from the Bush administration which suggest reliance on sources of info apart from the mass media? I don't mean this sarcastically, either. I have a very bad impression of them here, but because I'd rather be in accord with the evidence than right with any particular claim along the way, I would be happy to have reasons to think better of them. For the moment, I'm stuck with the very public statements about how they didn't learn about things until after they'd already been widely reported to the public, and making my judgment on that.

Someone already tried cutting out the insane parts of PowerLine posts. They're the single-word posts at Instapundit.

heh. (I just can't resist a straight line.)

ral,

That's because the shortest distance between any two puns is a straight line.

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