For Jonah… Who’s Never Heard the Burning Dogs Scream (Part I)

From Scout:

We watched them, some of them, come in. They were in horrible shape, some of them. We watched one woman whose leg had been severed. Mark Biello, one of our cameramen, went out in one of the boats to help shoot. He ended up being out for hours and told horrific tales. He saw bodies. He saw where — he saw other, just unfathomable things. Dogs wrapped in electrical — electrical lines who were still alive that were being electrocuted.—-CNN’s Jeanne Meserve (far right below) New Orleans, 8/29/2005

jonah and meserve

(photo shop work by Michael of 2Millionth web log)

Next time Jonah wants to bash the press he should go along for the ride rather than look askance from afar. Doing some research would be helpful also. On September 1st Jonah wrote the media did an “abysmal job” covering Katrina and more specifically catalogued their supposed failings in May writing this in part …

But it is worth reminding people that the Katrina they think they remember wasn’t the Katrina that actually took place. In fact, it is difficult to think of a bigger media scandal in my lifetime than the fraudulently inaccurate coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Where to begin? As I’ve written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn’s words, “bands of rapists, going block to block”? Not true.

OK that is where I’ll begin in Part 1 of 2 on this. To get an idea of just how scandalous the media was in their inaccuracies regarding rape I decided to do a bit of research on a large portion of CNN’s coverage since Jonah singled them out for ridicule.

After running 93 pages of CNN transcripts through a word processor and searching for the word “rape” (or any derivative such as raped, raping, rapists) I found that the word was uttered 37 times in 28 stories during the period from 8/29/2005 to 9/12/2005 during all shows of The Situation Room, Anderson Cooper 360, Paula Zahn, Larry King and Aaron Brown’s NewsNight. Four of those stories were repeated so it was 24 distinct stories. I use the term story though they are more mentions within other stories. (All references are provided after the cut)

On to the context of those 24 mentions. 2 are reports of arrests. On the 9/12 edition of Paula Zahn reporter Deborah Feyerick states ”Louisiana officials say, one man has been arrested for rape in the last 24 hours.” The same date Ed Lavendera reports a rapist was arrested on Aaron Brown. Most likely they are referring to the same individual.

That leaves 22 mentions. One story aired on Paula Zahn on 9/8 is a report from the commander of the sex crime unit stating there were no rapes in the Superdome. (4 of the 37 utterances of the word rape were in this story)

Now we are down to 21 stories and I will categorize those 21 as such…..

Statements from famous folk = 2

One came from Celine Dion who said, “There’s kids being raped at night” during her emotional outburst on Larry King. The other was from Donna Brazille in the Situation Room who stated “but we have heard of people in my own family who were raped.”

Statements based on quotes from police = 5

There are 3 mentions or quotes from police given to CNN reporter Chris Lawrence who was at a police station and 1 other given to Lawrence from 2 unidentified persons that appear to be police. (This was aired twice) One more mention is from CNN’s Gary Tuchman on Zahn’s show of 9/8 saying “The New Orleans police chief said people had been beaten and raped.”

A reading of an AP story on rape = 1

CNN stated they couldn’t confirm this.

Statement CNN heard a rumor = 8

One of the 8 is this video voice over by Aaron Brown…

“A week after National Guard arrived at the Convention Center to find fear, hunger and squalor that was almost indescribable, the police chief said that, while conditions there were horrible, some of the worst accusations, rapes and child murders, remain only that, unsubstantiated rumor”

Two others were remarks by Zahn based off a statement from a police source. One other was from a doctor who had been in the Convention Center and said he‘d heard of rapes occurring there and that aired 2 times. Only 4 were of CNN staff repeating a rumor that CNN had heard from unofficial sources such as evacuees/people at Convention Center.

Statements from civilians/evacuees = 5

There are just 5 more rumor/quotes directly from evacuees talking of rape or that they heard of rapes. 2 of these are stories that were re-aired.

Since Jonah cherry picked Zahn’s quote let’s look briefly at that 9/1 show and then I will conclude.

(Click Read More. Don‘t freak out at length as most is references)

From Scout:

The first story of that show was from CNN reporter Chris Lawrence who had been reporting from “on the top of a roof of a police station.” His reported included this…“One officer said, there have literally been groups of young men roaming the city, shooting at people, attempting to rape women.”

There was also an interview with a woman inside the Convention Center who reported they “think” a 13 year old was raped and there was an attempted rape of a 10 year old.

Thus it was later in the show when Zahn, interviewing Carol Siu, Dir. Of Nursing, St. Charles Specialty Hospital, made the statement Jonah picked giving no context….

Carol, we have heard some very discouraging reports out of New Orleans tonight about bands of rapists going from block to block, people walking around in feces, dead bodies floating everywhere. And we know that sniper fire continues. And looting. Do you think you’re going to be successful in going back to New Orleans and trying to rescue even more patients?

Zahn ended the show with this ….

We want to take our last few seconds to update you on what’s happening right now. The evacuees from New Orleans arriving by bus at the Houston Astrodome. Texas will be taking in some 75,000 refugees. But there is still tremendous devastation in New Orleans. Troops are outside the Superdome where the crowd is waiting to evacuate. A report on the ground describing increased lawlessness. Mans of — bands that is, of men raping women. Still no food, no water. That’s the latest from here. Good night.

I’ll grant you “bands of rapist” sounds a bit over the top by Zhan but it was based on a quote given to a CNN reporter by a police officer that said “there have been literally groups of young men roaming the city, ….. attempting to rape women.” For more context earlier on this day Nagin had put up an “SOS“

(Blitzer in Situation Room) We have just received this statement in from the mayor, Ray Nagin. “This is a desperate SOS,” he says. “Right now, we’re out of resources at the Convention Center and don’t anticipate enough buses.” He goes on to say, “We need buses. Currently, the Convention Center is unsanitary and unsafe and we’re running out of supplies for 15,000 to 20,000 people. We are now allowing people to march. They will be marching up the Crescent City Connection to the West Bank Expressway to find relief wherever, wherever they can.”

If Jonah and others want to have at members of the NOPD and Nagin for their role in disseminating falsehoods I’d understand as long as the fog of disaster due to communication breakdowns on nearly all levels and the lack of federal support are factored into the discussion. But the media?

CNN and other media outlets were hearing not only from civilians but police officers, including at the highest levels, that rapes were occurring. Rumor mongering was hardly rampant given the 10 stories they aired (plus 3 re-airs) of remarks originating from civilians over the 13 days of Katrina at least in this CNN sample. And when they were finally able to show they were false rumors they aired that too. Sounds like journalism to me or were they simply to ignore these stories from officials and perhaps witnesses?

Katrina was devastating for Bush in the eyes of Americans and the world. Of course Jonah’s whole point in all this is to shift the blame from Bush to the media. It is that one slim blade of grass upon which he attempts to rest the president high above the awful weedy mess that was the failed federal response. It’s a wholly pathetic attempt at political resurrection and historical revisionism. But given the Bush administration’s massive failure which Americans saw unfold before their very own lying eyes (thanks to the media) it is all with which he and other wing nuts have had to work. It should all be pilloried for what it is and I’ll take up Jonah’s other “arguments” in Part II.

………………………………………

REFERENCES

CNN* References to Rape and Links

THE SITUATION ROOM

9/1 part 3

Let me read to you, Chris — you’ve been there now for 24 hours in New Orleans — the lead from the latest Associate Press story that has just moved out of New Orleans, the byline, Adam Nositer (ph). I’ll just read a couple sentences to you and to our viewers, and I want you to weigh in after we hear his eyewitness account of what’s happening in New Orleans.

“Dateline New Orleans. Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out. Corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday.”

“‘This is a desperate SOS,’ the mayor said.’

The story goes on to say, quote, “The Reverend Isaac Clark, 68, who was standing outside the New Orleans Convention Center. He says, quote, ‘We are out here like pure animals. We don’t have help’.”

Chris Lawrence, you’re there. You’re in New Orleans right now. Is that an accurate description of what’s happening on the streets of New Orleans right now?

LAWRENCE: I would say it’s very accurate. And we have reported already all of those except for the actual rape. We have not been able to independently confirm that women were raped, although we did hear a lot of people talking about that.

(Categorized: reading AP story)

9/1 part 3

RAYMOND COOPER, INSIDE CONVENTION CENTER COOPER: We have to walk to different little stores and stuff like that to find stuff that the looters had already broke in the doors and stuff like that. We have to, literally, pick up candy, cookies, sodas off the floor and stuff. Water is all over there. We have to walk it all the way back and stuff to give to people and stuff like that. I found some hams. I found some turkeys and stuff like that. And I just was handing it to the people just handing it to them and stuff. I mean, hey, you know, and then the thing about it, you got these young teenage boys running around up here raping these girls.

(Categorized: Statements from civilians/evacuees )

9/5 part 3

BLITZER: She’s right there. But you say she was living in assisted living. What kind of needs did she need?

BRAZILE: Well, Sheila years ago had brain surgery, and as a result of her surgery, it made her unable to take care of herself. She is functional. She can walk. She can do a lot of things. But this assisted living facility is for people that cannot pay full rent. So there are a lot of low-income people live there. They have no cars. The had no way of getting out.

And I’m surprised, and it took me days to figure this out, that in terms of the evacuation strategy, with no communication, with no way of getting to people — she had no way to walk out or swim to the nearest Superdome or — and let me just say, conditions in those places — and you all have done a fantastic job of reporting. But we have heard of people in my own family who were raped. Just the conditions in those areas for those four or five days were horrible, inhumane. And I’m glad that we’re going to help those people get their lives back.

(Categorized: Statements from famous folk )

AARON BROWN NEWSNIGHT

8/31

(CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT speaking) And because of that lack of communication, you’ve got all kinds of rumors. One person told us that there was a dead body in the Superdome. Another man said several women had been raped inside there.

(Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor )

9/1 Part 1 CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, right now, we are holed up on a rooftop of a police station in the middle of New Orleans. Right now, it’s the only safe place to be in the city.

We were on the street earlier, but the police said, under no circumstances would you be safe on the street. They said anybody walking in the streets of New Orleans is basically taking their life in their hands.

As they hustled us off the street, some of the officers told us that groups of young men have been roaming the city, shooting at people, attempting to rape young women. They directed some of the young women to get off the street immediately. So, we are here. We’re seeing helicopters circling the city. And police snipers are just lining the rooftops here, basically trying to defend this police station.

(Categorized: Statements based on quotes from police)

9/1 Part 1

BROWN (voice over on video): Where they wound up was here, a tiny gym owned by the town of Kenner, Louisiana, just beyond the boundaries of the airport in New Orleans. They knew what they had experienced. They had heard stories of what others had.

SHEER (evacuee): And it is a war zone, an absolute war zone. People are getting killed and raped. BROWN: In Kenner itself officials were distributing ice and water courtesy of the Wal-Mart. And like everywhere in the area, they were concerned not just with public health but with public safety in a society breaking down.

(Categorized: Statements from civilians/evacuees )

9/2 Part 1 ALAN GOULD, INSIDE CONVENTION CENTER: They have like what I would call modern-day genocide going on. They have more or less corralled us in two places, the Convention Center the Superdome, with no food, no water, (INAUDIBLE) almost 90-degree heat inside. There are small children and sick and elderly people dying every day, small children being raped and killed, people running around with guns. I’m scared for my life, my wife and my 5-year-old daughter’s life

(Categorized: Statements from civilians/evacuees )

9/2 Part 1

(appears quotes from police)

CNN’s Chris Lawrence spent last night with the police in New Orleans downtown and filed this report.

SNIP
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There’s guys out here, you know, shooting at the police. Like I said, raping kids and women

SNIP

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t think the real story is finished yet. This is only part one. Part two is where we are right now, dealing with all of this. The aftermath and the city, with the flooding, with the looting, with the killing, with the raping. Part three, that’s the story that isn’t finished yet. What’s going to happen to this city? We’re going to rebuild.

(Categorized: Statements based on quotes from police)

9/2 part 2 (recap video at top of second hour so same quote as in Part 1)

ALAN GOULD, INSIDE CONVENTION CENTER: We have like what I would call modern day genocide going on. They more or less corralled us in two places – the convention center and the Superdome, with no food, no water. You can say almost 90 degree heat inside. We have small children and sick and elderly people dying every day. Small children being raped and killed. People running around with guns. I’m scared for my life, my wife, and my five-year old daughter’s life.

(Repeat airing)

9/6 Part 1

(SAUNDRA REED, NEW ORLEANS SURVIVOR on videotape piece) When it get dark in here, it was dark, pitch black. You couldn’t see anything. They did everything, they terrorized you. You couldn’t sleep at night. You had to keep the children with you to keep them safe, because they were saying that children were being raped, people was being killed.

(Categorized: Statements from civilians/evacuees )

9/6 part 3 (replayed so same quote as above in Part 1)

(SAUNDRA REED, NEW ORLEANS SURVIVOR on videotape piece) When it get dark in here, it was dark, pitch black. You couldn’t see anything. They did everything, they terrorized you. You couldn’t sleep at night. You had to keep the children with you to keep them safe, because they were saying that children were being raped, people was being killed.

(Repeat airing )

9/9

(Brown voice over on video clip) A week after National Guard arrived at the Convention Center to find fear, hunger and squalor that was almost indescribable, the police chief said that, while conditions there were horrible, some of the worst accusations, rapes and child murders, remain only that, unsubstantiated rumor.

(Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor )

9/10

COOPER (on camera): It’s not known how many died at the convention center. The doctor believes he saw about 50 bodies. CNN has just obtained these photographs taken sometime last week. Some of the bodies appear to have been mutilated.

HENDERSON: And I heard, you know, some pretty harrowing stories of how they would go and get young women and come back here and rape them. And I think a lot of those stories got a lot of press and maybe contributed to not this area getting the help. Because I think maybe there was a collective attitude of everybody is just murdering each other down there, just stay away from that area or you’re going die.

(Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor )

9/12 Part 1

LAVENDERA (voice over): The district attorney’s office has moved into the bus station’s gift shop. The jail medic works from the ticket taker. And an Amtrak locomotive powers the building. This makeshift jail has been open more than a week. About 275 people have been held here so far. The majority were arrested for looting, but there’s been a rapist and a murder. But people here will never forget the first inmate

(Not Categorized: Arrest story)

LARRY KING

9/3

(Celine Dion speaking) There’s kids being raped at night. They hear gunshots, big guns, what’s that? Those people are praying. They’re walking. They’re like this, hello, do you see us? We’re still alive but we’re dying. It’s terrible.

(Categorized: Statements from famous folk )

Anderson Cooper 360

9/1

(CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT speaking) Some women were walking by. The police officers told them — ordered them, in fact, that they could not go down one particular street, told them that there have been groups of young men going around, shooting people, attempting to rape women, and ordered them to continue walking in the other direction

(Categorized: Statements based on quotes from police)

9/8 (Anderson Cooper speaking) Law enforcement in New Orleans right now investigating violence that took place in the New Orleans convention center, where for days, we have heard reports of unspeakable conditions. We have seen the aftermath of that with our own eyes today. And violence, including rape and murder. Tonight, CNN has obtained these photographs.

Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor )

9/8

(Anderson Cooper speaking) That’s where about 15,000 people were literally just dumped. We’re talking about old people in diapers, just left to sit for days and days. The conditions in there were absolutely deplorable. We have heard reports about murders and rapes. We know people died in there. We know that for a fact, they were stored up on the second floor.

Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor )

9/9

COOPER (voice over): It’s not known how many died at the Convention Center. The doctor believe he’s saw about 50 bodies. CNN has just obtained these photographs taken sometime last week. Some of the bodies appear to have been mutilated.

HENDERSON: And I heard, you know, some pretty harrowing stories of how they would go and get young women and come back here and rape them. And I think a lot of the stories got a lot of press, and maybe contributed to not this area getting the help, because I think maybe there was a collective attitude of everybody’s just murdering each other down there. Just stay away from that area. You’re going to die.

(Repeat airing)

PAULA ZAHN

9/1

(CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT speaking) One officer said, there have literally been groups of young men roaming the city, shooting at people, attempting to rape women

>(Categorized: Statements based on quotes from police)

9/1

TISHIA WALTERS, INSIDE CONVENTION CENTER: What it has been like, right now, we have six dead bodies in the freezer. People are dying.

There is no lights, no water. There is no food. They are killing people. They are just — they are looking for a 13-year-old child, but they just — they think she’s been raped. They can’t find her. There’s a child downstairs that’s 10 years old that they attempted to rape this morning. And they broke both of her — they broke both of her ankles.

And, right now, we are searching the building for a 13- year-old child that we think has been raped. But there are so many rooms in the Convention Center that we cannot find her.

(Categorized: Statements from civilians/evacuees )

9/1

(Zahn talking with CAROL SIU, DIR. OF NURSING, ST. CHARLES SPECIALTY HOSPITAL leaving with ill people)

Carol, we have heard some very discouraging reports out of New Orleans tonight about bands of rapists going from block to block, people walking around in feces, dead bodies floating everywhere.

(Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor)

9/1

At end of program

ZAHN: Well, Carol Siu, we know you have a big job ahead. You’re trying to rescue some 26 hospice patients, along with 40 staff members. We’ll be checking in with you tomorrow to see how you’ve done.

We want to take our last few seconds to update you on what’s happening right now. The evacuees from New Orleans arriving by bus at the Houston Astrodome. Texas will be taking in some 75,000 refugees. But there is still tremendous devastation in New Orleans. Troops are outside the Superdome where the crowd is waiting to evacuate. A report on the ground describing increased lawlessness. Mans of — bands that is, of men raping women. Still no food, no water. That’s the latest from here. Good night.

(Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor)

9/2

(JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT Speaking) But people are scared, because they kept saying the police would be there up until 7:00 in the evening and then they would take off until the next morning. They don’t know whether the National Guard is going to remain all night long. That’s the fear right there, Paula. They tell us people have been raped, people have been killed. And there was a stench inside that convention center like you would never believe it, Paula.

ZAHN: Hate to hear that, Jeff Koinange. We also should point out for folks that aren’t — there are also folks outside of that convention center on I-10 we are now told, thousands of them, that will be spending the night along the highway. We’re not too sure what the security situation is there.

(Categorized: Statement CNN heard a rumor )

9/2

(Zahn speaking) Chris Lawrence spent the night on top of a police station where officers were basically hostages in their own police station, because it was too dangerous to go out into the streets. Here’s Chris Lawrence.

SNIP [scout: These are most likely police officers below given the set up]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There’s guys out here, you know, shooting at the police. Like I said, raping kids and women

. LAWRENCE: One officer compares the catastrophe to September 11th.

SNIP

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t think the real story is finished yet. This is only part one. Part two is where we are right now, dealing with all of this. The aftermath and the city, with the flooding, with the looting, with the killing, with the raping. Part three, that’s the story that isn’t finished yet. What’s going to happen to this city? We’re going to rebuild.

(Categorized: Statements based on quotes from police)

9/8

TUCHMAN: In the days following the hurricane, chaos only grew for the 15,000 to 20,000 people in the Convention Center shelter. The photos we received show a kitchen full of garbage and feces.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are dirty. We waded in that water, dirty, filthy water. And we are dirty. This is not the way we live.

TUCHMAN: But it wasn’t ordinary chaos. The New Orleans police chief said people had been beaten and raped. The head of FEMA said he didn’t know until three days after the hurricane that the Convention Center even was a shelter.

(Categorized: Statements based on quotes from police)

9/8

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It’s in across the Mississippi in an area of the city known as Algiers. The water did not come here. The houses here survived. And inside this one, Dave and Becky Benelli are running a New Orleans police precinct. SNIP

GRIFFIN: And hot-tempered. But he says the police themselves policed the crowds. Thugs would few. And he wants to explode the urban myths about rampant rapes, killings and beatings.

D. BANELLI: I’m the commander of the sex crimes unit. My unit handles all rapes. We had two reported attempted rapes.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Attempted.

D. BANELLI: Attempted rapes. And they were handled. And the individuals were arrested.

GRIFFIN: That’s it.

D. BANELLI: And that’s it.

GRIFFIN: For six days, that was it. He says the people remained calm, the police remained vigilant and the evacuees were taken away.

Now, he says, look and see who is left: the cops.

(Not Categorized: No Rape Story)

9/12

(DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT speaking) Louisiana officials say, one man has been arrested for rape in the last 24 hours. But it’s not clear whether he was in the prison system

(Not Categorized: Arrest story)

*Covers all transcripts for the following shows 8/29/2005-9/12/2006

The Situation Room

Anderson Cooper 360

Paula Zahn

Larry King

Aaron Brown NewsNight