Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bush's NOLA Surprise

In last year's State of the Union address (which I'd taken to calling his State of Denial address for this very reason) Bush had never said a word about New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, or Katrina--as if he'd written off an entire area of the country. So I didn't expect them to be mentioned Monday night.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Bush first mentioned "armies of compassion" on the Gulf Coast, then announced that NOLA will be the venue of the next North American Summit with Canada and Mexico.

What is this--NOLA's "not ready" to host a fall presidential debate, per the site selection commission--yet she can, per Bush, host a summit of three world leaders in April?

Bush's announcement that New Orleans would be this summit's venue, after the debate rejection and all the other ways BushCo has given Louisiana the shaft, makes me think of an abusive husband who regularly beats his wife, disses her, and is mean-spirited towards her in other ways. Then presents her, not because it's her birthday or some other special occasion, but out of the blue, with an expensive, yet non-useful, gift. On getting a surprise like that, she'd be wise to immediately be suspicious. Because after his mistreatment of her it should be an obvious clue that her husband is up to no good. And that the worst may be yet to come.

This upcoming summit does not make me any less angry about the fact that New Orleans was screwed out of the opportunity to host any of this fall's presidential debates. Reason being, a debate held in New Orleans would be a useful gift for her--it would force the nominees of both parties to talk about how they feel about BushCo's neglect of the area and how they plan to remedy the damage it has done when they're in office. I doubt such things would be hashed out or even brought up during a North American Summit. So we still need to call for some sort of presidential debate to take place in New Orleans, at which New Orleans and Katrina-related issues are discussed.

And while the North American Summit will generate plenty of media attention, it would probably be the wrong kind of attention--namely the kind which glosses over the fact that large areas of New Orleans are still devastated and many there are still hurting physically, mentally/emotionally, and financially. Here's how BushCo and their compliant corporate-owned media will probably spin it, against a backdrop of a shiny French Quarter or maybe homes that have been rebuilt: "Look, Americans, New Orleans is just fine. She's rebuilt. She doesn't need help." (Or somehow they'll manage to cover the summit without even mentioning New Orleans or Louisiana--see how an example of this happened last night, below.) So to make a long story short, the summit won't really do anything for New Orleans and her people. She'll just provide an attractive photo-op backdrop.

And I'm worried about the prospect of violent demonstrations and protests--which per the Times-Picayune article linked above, have happened during other such summits and led to violence. While I've been calling for demonstrations and protests in support of New Orleans, to call attention to her problems, and against such things as the debate rejection, and would like to see them during the summit, they need to be attention-getting yet peaceful as were the Jena rallies. Because violence is the last thing an already-hurting Louisiana needs.

And the fact that Edwards has just bowed out of the campaign does not bode well for New Orleans and her people. I doubt that either Democratic candidate who's left will take up where Edwards left off regarding New Orleans. Hillary, for whom New Orleans has been off the radar, will just let her die--and Obama hasn't been much better.

Now for how NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams covered this. The lede was Edwards' quitting the race. But, unbelievably, neither Brian Williams nor Andrea Mitchell, both of whom are owned and operated by GE, the world's largest defense contractor, mentioned the key fact that this took place in New Orleans.

WTF? An Open Letter which I'm attempting to post on
Daily Nightly follows. If it doesn't appear there, it's been censored.

Dear Brian,

Because John Edwards ended his candidacy in the very city in which he'd kicked it off--New Orleans--I paid close attention to your coverage and Andrea Mitchell's report.

What's odd about what I heard is what I didn't hear: any mention of New Orleans by you or Andrea. And very little of Edwards' surroundings could be seen. A viewer unaware that Edwards was in New Orleans could have figured that he instead was where Andrea signed off from--Washington.

Your and Andrea's non-mention of New Orleans goes against something I seem to recall having learned in 3rd- or 4th-grade English when we were first taught how news stories were properly written: to answer the questions: "Who?," "What?," "Where?," "When," "Why?," and "How?." In last night's coverage of Edwards, there was no answer to "Where?."

Furthermore, "Nightly" also has not covered the most interesting thing Bush said in his State of the Union address: the announcement that New Orleans will be the site of the next North American Summit. It would have been far more worthwhile Tuesday night had you aired a piece on this announcement and on New Orleanians' reaction to this news, than some of the dreck you did cover such as that story on midlife crises around the world. My friend in New Orleans doesn't think this summit will be any help to New Orleans and her people.

Why has "Nightly" been for the past month or so censoring news out of New Orleans? Have your highers-up--perhaps on orders from GE, the world's largest defense contractor, demanded that you and your newspeople maintain a news blackout on New Orleans by not even mentioning her? Because they're afraid that mentioning New Orleans could remind Americans of the remaining devastation and hardships, and BushCo's neglect of that city? And that they could call for aid--which might lessen the amount of money available for defense spending, which otherwise would go into GE's bank accounts?

Since as noted, New Orleans had not been mentioned in the coverage of Edwards' bowing out, and Andrea signed off from Washington, I'm counting last night's newscast as the 24th since you aired anything out of New Orleans.

Also, I have it on good authority that NBC doesn't have the real, permanent New Orleans bureau that it should have--but a local TV station that temporarily serves as one when fly-in newspeople are in town.

"Getting to Brian

I really believe your daily questions about NOLA finally got to him. Did you see the look on his face when he said "NOLA Bureau". Very strange indeed. The fly ins camp out in the WDSU studios which I assume is their NOLA Bureau. Anyway, thanks for your persistance, it got to them. Also, heard that Pelosi and Reid have sent a strongly worded letter requesting demolition stop until the housing crisis is eased.

by chigh on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 04:03:01 PM PST"

If NBC had a real, permanent New Orleans bureau, perhaps we would have gotten some real coverage out of New Orleans of Edwards' leaving the campaign instead of a shoddy piece obviously assembled from film clips and narrated out of Washingtonh, with no mention of New Orleans. NBC needs to re-open, permanently, or at least until New Orleans is really on the way to being rebuilt, its New Orleans bureau, now.

Louisiana 1976

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Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.