Anderson Cooper was in New Orleans last night as part of CNN’s “Keeping them Honest.” They did pieces on the levees and pumps, the apparent suicide of one of the NOPD officers involved in a widely publicized post-K police brutality case, the 100 unclaimed remains of Katrina victims still waiting in a NOLA warehouse for burial, crime in NOLA and a piece on FEMA trailers returned to that agency, vandalized and “trashed.”
I’ve seen the FEMA trailer story repeated twice this morning. Now I do commend Cooper and CNN for returning to NOLA. So it is hard to be critical. At least they are doing that. But is it too much to ask for more and some perspective in this?
Keep in mind, in the FEMA trailer piece it was reported that “FEMA officials say nearly 10 percent of them came back unfit to use again.” Less than TEN Percent. So 90% of folks who have returned trailers (and many in NOLA are still living in trailers) took care of them. But CNN hooked up with FEMA to get video of a trailer with bullet holes in it and another with fixtures stripped out. Got to show that video.
Cooper reminded America at the beginning of the piece that FEMA trailers were paid for by taxpayers…”That was your money, all of our money.”
If the concern is taxpayers’ money how about a piece on the multi BILLION dollar fraud case against insurance companies who allegedly passed and then inflated flood damage claims onto the now bankrupt National Flood Insurance Program while their profits soared. That was your money too. Or what about the mess of the Road Home program.Again your money. That’s Billions of taxpayers money in those two important stories alone. Instead America will hear ad nauseam about a small minority of NOLA residents who messed up their trailers.
Given everything that is going wrong with Gulf Coast recovery it is disheartening to think too many Americans will probably only remember the sensational FEMA trailer story.
UPDATE: I see Harry Shearer at HuffPo also asks for some perspective on this…
What wasn’t included: the dollar value of the damage (just to compare
with, say, the money drained off the recovery by the Army Corp’s
five-tier subcontractor structure) and, most crucially, a comparison
with, just to pick a state, Florida, after Hurricane Andrew. Without
such comparative measures, this story–like so much TV
coverage–registers as “never before”. If such vandalism had occurred
in previous disasters, of course, this would register as far less of a
story, and hence, far less worth three minutes of air time.