Monday, September 26, 2005

Bush puts reporter in place (I wish)

Amidst the clean-up and recovery of the nation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, President George W. Bush held a press briefing about the nation's energy supply. When he opened the briefing for questions, he was asked the following by Nedra Pickler from the Associated Press:
PICKLER: I want to ask you about, um, a different result of these storms and that is the racial divide that's been exposed in the country. Blacks and whites feel very differently about what happened. We all, um, recognize that the response to Rita was much better than the response to Katrina, but there are some strong feelings in the black community that -- that difference had a racial component to it, that the white, you know, rural residents got taken care of better than the black urban residents. How do you respond to that?
President Bush gave an entirely unremarkable political answer about how his administration has done many things for the poor and underprivileged. However, in my little fantasy world, it would have gone something like this:
PICKLER: I want to ask you about, um, a different result of these storms and that is the racial divide that's been exposed in the country. Blacks and whites feel very differently about what happened. We all, um, recognize that the response to Rita was much better than the response to Katrina, but there are some strong feelings in the black community that -- that difference had a racial component to it, that the white, you know, rural residents got taken care of better than the black urban residents. How do you respond to that?

BUSH:
You know, Nedra, that’s a great question. I’ve been asking myself a similar question recently. During the hurricane Katrina coverage, many news outlets—including yours, the AP—reported numerous deaths, rapes, etc, happening in the Superdome and NO Convention Center. And now it’s being reported that those numbers were greatly exaggerated, if not completely false. Why were the media so eager to believe anything terrible about the poor, mostly black people in the Superdome? Is there a racial component to the way wild rumors were being reported as fact? (gives reporter innocent smile)
I actually don't think there was a racial component to the media's reporting of rumors. In fact, I think it is ridiculous and supremely unhelpful--oddly enough, just as unhelpful as suggesting that there was racism involved in the Katrina emergency. We should be talking about what went wrong and what should be fixed, not slinging ad hominem attacks around. And reporters who insist on pushing that angle ought to be politely asked to sit down and shut up. It's too bad the President can't be allowed to do just that.
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Rush Limbaugh (press briefing info)/Michelle Malkin (rumor debunking)

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