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Thursday, September 01, 2005

KATRINA: Bob Cox is Back But He's Not Happy With CNN

Media Bloggers Association President and National Debate Managing Editor Bob Cox is back in the saddle after a lengthy lay-off devoted to a family move and a much-deserved vacation. Katrina coverage on the MSM, especially that of CNN, has raised his ire.

"It is not, however, all good news from CNN. In the past 12 hours or so a new thread has emerged on CNN - anchors and reporters prompting interview subjects to criticize the federal government.
"In just a few hours I have seen Sen. Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans Marc something-or-ruther, Governor Barbour of Mississippi, people on the street, FEMA officials, National Guard officials all being prompted by CNN reporters and anchors to slam the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina, especially the 'failure' of the federal government (i.e., President Bush) to PRE-DEPLOY the U.S. military."

There follows a detailed explanation of the role of the Posse Comatatus statutes that limit the ability of the President to deploy the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement duties. The bottom line is simply that Bush couldn't pre-deploy the military because:

"In other words, the President is required under various laws to work with the state governors except in the most extreme cases like a terrorist attack. Until Katrina actually made landfall there was no way to know the scope of the problem and where precisely to deploy resources and what exactly would be needed.
"From all I have heard reported, President Bush did everything he could do without invoking special emergency powers. Given 20/20 hindsight, it is easy to say that the U.S. military should have been deployed to here, here and here but that is nothing but a cheap shot.
"To say President Bush should have "known" the levee would break in New Orelans, or how few people would evacuate the coast, or how deep the storm surge would be, or the level of destruction is just plain dumb. The fact is that the people closer to the storm - the governors in the effected states did not know either."

The Cox post helps put into perspective the growing chorus of critics on the Left, with a few on the Right as well, claiming variations on the theme of it's all Bush's fault. My own criticism of Bush on Tuesday was not of an alleged failure to anticipate the severity of the disaster but of the laggardly recognition that much more visible presidential leadership was needed sooner. I suspect that recognition accounted for the flyover by Air Force One Wednesday on Bush's return to the nation's capitol.

That said, Cox is absolutely right about how irritating it is to listen to people like Soledad O'Brien posing as an authority on what those harried officials on the ground in the disaster zone and in their logistical support chain through state capitols and in Washington, D.C. ought to be doing. It will be interesting to see how CNN does in the ratings against Fox, which has swarmed on the story with all hands.

UPDATE:

One way authorities could tell people trapped in New Orleans what to do and where to go would be blimps with those huge scrolling message boards we see at sporting events. Cox wondered why we hadn't seen the Goodyear blimp or any of the other similar air ships floating over New Orleans, so he called Goodyear. Go here to read their response.

UPDATE II:

Others besides Cox are noticing the CNN outrages, too. Winfield Myers, the new managing editor of The American Enterprise magazine and former postmeister at Democracy Project blog came out of "retirement" today to lambast CNN's Miles O'Brien. Win is normally calm and fairly reserved, so it takes something truly outrageous to get him this riled up. Go here for the full story.