Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More on those over-reported rumors from New Orleans...

The LA Times has printed an article further discussing the story in yesterday's Times-Picayune which I commented on. I only thought I had heard some of the rumors and false reports out of the Superdome, but others from the New Orleans area included some of the following:

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.

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."

The tabloid Ottawa Sun reported unverified accounts of "a man seeking help gunned down by a National Guard soldier" and "a young man run down and then shot by a New Orleans police officer."

London's Evening Standard invoked the future-world fantasy film "Mad Max" to describe the scene and threw in a "Lord of the Flies" allusion for good measure.

And it this hyperbole of less-than-factual reporting wasn't limited to major news media. In fact it might have been picked up by major news media because of comments like this:

[Mayor Ray] Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared on "Oprah" a few days after trouble at the Superdome had peaked.

Compass told of "the little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. And Nagin made his claim about hooligans raping and killing.

I know that this was a unique disaster situation, but Mayor Nagin was a little prone to throughout the crisis.

But the most striking part of this article is where blame for the rumors is placed.

Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss cited telephone breakdowns as a primary cause of reporting errors, but said the fact that most evacuees were poor African Americans also played a part.

"If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people," Amoss said, "it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering."

I ask the questions again: Who really hates the poor blacks in this country? Is it the Bush Administration or is it the media who had no problem characterizing them in such a stereotypical light?

1 comment:

katielady said...

It's really pretty bad. GMA reported on it this morning, too. Shameful how the media won't take responsibility for their own action of broadcasting and thus spreading the horrendous lies.