Katrina vs. the Wildfires: American Media Misses the Point

The below-linked blog roundup has a bunch of interesting tidbits in it from the Sunday news show circuit.  Don’t miss the discussions of Mukasey and Iran.  But I’m commenting because I was perusing all the different sections when I hit this one and stopped cold:

Blog – Patrick O’Connor – Politico.com

News flash: The federal, state and local governments responded better to wildfires in California than the debacle that unfolded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. All right, so maybe that’s not big news, but members of the California delegation were much heavier on the praise than the criticism during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” “I think things went as well as could be expected,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Let me be quite honest with you: I’ve watched some of the coverage of the wildfires and was almost immediately bored of the whole affair.  I know, that doesn’t seem very empathetic of me.  But as I watched, I was almost completely devoid of any particular concern, for all that the media spent covering it like I should.  I am genuinely sorry that people lost their homes: there’s no loss quite as violating as such a loss.  But then, they did build in the middle of an area known for it’s wildfires, didn’t they?

Now, we’re expected to be impressed somehow with the fact that California acted quicker and more effectively than Louisiana did. . . ?  That a state with a 1.5 trillion dollar economy, saving the lives and properties of millionaires such as Kelsey Grammar and Mel Gibson, outperformed a state with a 140 billion dollar economy attempting to save. . .  well, can you name anyone affected by Katrina?  Really affected?

In fact, we would never have expected anything else, and that’s the whole point.  There’s nothing worth being particularly impressed by in California, it’s just a rich state doing what rich states can afford to do.  There’s nothing shocking when a disaster that affects People Magazine personalities turns out to have been handled expeditiously.  And whatever was meant by the gesture, Bush hastening to show up for a tour with the Governator, filled with looks of concern, just adds icing to the cake.

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By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

5 replies on “Katrina vs. the Wildfires: American Media Misses the Point”

No, you say “American Media Misses The Point”. What point? What point are you making? I read your article, but it is not at all clear to me what your point is, or what point American Media is missing. Can you provide a one-sentence explanation?

Simply this: if it were possible for these two areas to switch disasters the results would have been the same, because the tragedy was never Katrina, it was the grinding poverty of Louisiana and New Orleans that compounded the problem Katrina presented.

Back then, the Republicans were blaming Louisiana for not responding in time, now, we’re all supposed to applaud those top-notch first responders in California. Not only is it not a fair comparison, it’s a bit insulting to be expected to view the torched house of a rich person with the same awe that I viewed people trapped on a roof.

If Katrina laid bare the falsehood of the Republican Rugged Individualist, then California seems to cover it back up again. And for one shining moment, the media and Anderson Cooper seemed to have gotten it.

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