For days now, I’ve wanted to tell you how proud I was of my fellow journalists performance covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but with bodies still floating in stagnant water, the time didn’t seem right for a victory dance. Meanwhile, writers with many more zeroes on their paychecks have filed similar dispatches, from the New York Times to the BBC to the Washington Post to USA Today. Despite a variety of spins, all center on the same thesis: The media was KEY in exposing the madness that gripped New Orleans in the days following Katrina.
Like a lot of you, I’m still trying to figure out why leaders from every level of our government sat on their hands while a sat truck army moved into every reachable crevice of the Big Easy and began broadcasting. Never before have so many domestic U.S. journalists encountered such third-world conditions, all while politicians and generals tried to pretend it just wasn't happening. I’ll save that particular debate for the many other frothing bloggers out there, but suffice to say there’s no excuse for an elected official of any kind to feign ignorance of a national tragedy when the evidence to the contrary is blaring from every TV screen in the nation. What do you mean you can’t get help to the evacuees? Stone Phillips is down there with perfect three point lighting!
But I digress. All I really wanted to say was that for once, the electronic media worked as advertised. Long derided (rightfully so) as shallow, vain and celebrity-obsessed, TV reporters and their intrepid crews shone a much needed spotlight on a national disgrace - often at the tops of their lungs. I’m all for demanding neutrality among the Fourth Estate, but if you can point a camera at corpses and squalor withOUT getting worked up, well - I don’t want you in my camera scrum. That said, someone in Geraldo’s crew should have him with a face full of seltzer water the other night, for his eleventh-hour shrieks of outrage truly approached the clownish.
I much prefer the quiet wrath of Shepard Smith, who after days of touring his broken homeland, shut down confirmed ass-bag Bill O’Reilly’s proclamation that all was well with little more than a sour glare. Now THAT’S good TV…