Jack Cafferty used to be a newscaster on the local NBC affiliate out here in New York, and he was a likable enough guy. He, briefly, went to work for the more local WPIX which would soon become the WB11, and Cafferty was out. It was plain to see he didn’t like it there at the WB, and presented the news pretty gruffly. I hadn’t seen him for a while, and then he shows up on CNN a couple of years ago, and I think to myself, huh, I wonder if that is going to be a good match. He was still pretty gruff, and they put him on the morning show, which I was positive was not a good idea, but he stayed there until CNN started that stupid Situation Room. Anyway, that’s all just meandering memories. The point is Jack Cafferty, a pretty professional and long time New York newscaster, has that olde tyme gravitas, a kind of no-nonsense approach to news–nothing flashy. “This is the news and that’s how you’ll like it,” sort of thing. He’s been a reliable marker for what level of shenanigans the press is willing to put up with, before they call out “bullshit.” He said this, yesterday:

…I’m 62, I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things–I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can’t sandwiches be dropped to those people in that Superdome down there? This is Thursday! This is Thursday! This storm happened five days ago. It’s a disgrace, and don’t think the world isn’t watching. This is the government the taxpayers are paying for and it’s fallen right flat on its face, in the way its handled this thing. He’s not the only member of the elite press corps declairing shenanigans on the team sitting in the White House. Some of us believe that a government’s responsibility is to its people, but Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu believes the first business of government is patting itself on the back for a job well done. Anderson Cooper, also of CNN, doesn’t buy it. It seems he gets upset when he sees Americans lying dead in city streets being eaten by rats. Ted Koppel, of Nightline, can’t understand why thousands of people starving and dehydrating at the New Orleans Convention Center are still without food and water, and Michael Brown of FEMA tells an incredulous Koppel that the federal government just learned that people were at the convention center that day–FIVE DAYS after the hurricane. Koppel, too, calls bullshit. And the point is made: The press is getting antsy. A part of me wonders why this tragedy, of all things, is making the pressmen stand up and shake their fists at this pathetic disgrace of an administration and the miserable failure that is our president. And I think it is the shock to these men and women who have reported overseas and watched death and war and famine strike in dozens of places on Earth, but never, ever for a moment thought that the United States could ever get that bad. A single act of nature displaced half a million people, crippled our energy infrastructure, and created a breakdown of law and order that threatens to spread into three states. And while the hurricane could not have been prevented, it was a knowable danger, and for four days our federal government sat blithely on the sidelines while thousands of American lives were destroyed. As quick as the destruction was on September 11, 2001, this one unfolded over days, and it will not end for months. And when the enormity of it hit the airwaves, our president played guitar in California, our vice-president was keeping silent somewhere in the wilderness of Wyoming, and our secretary of state was vacationing in New York city, buying thousand dollar shoes and playing tennis with pretty people. Who are these people, and where is their compassion? I think, maybe, that’s what’s getting the press all flustered, because they are there with their cameras and reporters, and they cannot believe the enormity of it, and they know that much of the destruction could have, and should have, been prevented.

2 thoughts on “A third-world response to an American crisis

  1. I plagiarized you a bit, but this is what I sent to the President, Vice President, our Representative, and Senators, Newsday, and CNN. Hope you don’t mind. Our government has failed and should be held accountable. The fact that the whole world knew what a disaster New Orleans was and our government just started to realize this 5 days later, frightens me. Some secure nation we have when they don’t know what’s going on in there own back yards. And when the enormity of it hit the airwaves, our president played guitar in California, our vice-president was keeping silent somewhere in the wilderness of Wyoming, and our secretary of state was vacationing in New York city, buying thousand dollar shoes and playing tennis with pretty people. Who are these people? Why do I, a layman, know more that the government. Do they just not care? Is it because the victims are mostly poor and black? It’s not only a horror but an embarrassment to us around the world. When the dreadful tsunami hit there was more organization that this. What’s going on!? Is this America?

  2. I was just watching Ch.2 morning news (now my favorite news show) and their two reporters in the thick of the New Orleans disaster said, They didn’t feel unsafe or threatened by the victims. That they were helping each other and were polite.

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