One reason I’m feeling so cantankerous of late is that it’s August. Everyone in New Orleans gets tetchy at this time of year as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent Federal Flood approaches. It’s been 16 years since the most important moment of my life. You might not be reading this if not for that epic disaster. It’s why I became an internet writer or blogger as we used to call ourselves.
I’m struck by the similarity of the MSM’s coverage of Katrina’s aftermath and the collapse of the Afghan government. The words that come to mind are shrill, hyperbolic, and over the top. To watch CNN after the storm was to believe there was widespread looting, arson, and mayhem. The looped footage typically included people clinging to rooftops, stealing teevees, and images of the Beer Looter Dude. Over and over again.
In August and September of 2005, the MSM floated unsupported rumors of murders at evacuation sites such as the Super Dome and Convention Center. Over and over again.
I recall watching a reporter do a standup in front of some burning houses and proclaiming that the “Garden District is on fire.” It was not. The burning houses were on Napoleon Avenue, which is not in the Garden District. The looped footage and misattribution continued. Over and over again.
There *was* chaos in New Orleans after Katrina and the Federal Flood but it was not as widespread as the MSM coverage would have you believe. That coverage inspired my skepticism of all on-the-fly live reporting from a disaster area or war zone.
In 2021, the MSM is whipping up hysteria over events in Afghanistan by looping footage of children being lifted over razor wire and desperate people hanging onto airplanes. Over and over again.
There *is* some chaos after the fall of Kabul. Losing armies tend to collapse at the end of a losing war. Make no mistake about it: the side we backed lost this war. Much of the MSM, however, seems disinterested in reporting items such as this:
Just now, @SecBlinken on Afghanistan evacuations: "Last 24 hours about 8,000 people on about 60 flights evacuated from Kabul airport. Since this effort began at the end of July, about 30,000 people all told …" pic.twitter.com/jBIMunbx8Z
— The Recount (@therecount) August 22, 2021
As always, Chris Wallace is willing to sail against the prevailing winds of his own network.
As for the lemmings of the MSM, they prefer headlines like the “Calamity Plane” headline in the feature image. It’s a good pun but an inaccurate headline.
The MSM is ignoring the ongoing negotiations between stalwarts of the failed pro-Western government and the Taliban as pointed out by Josh Marshall at TPM.
Whether or not the Taliban actually plan on governing differently than they did between 1996-2001, that financial need will become acute. If nothing else they likely want to have a longer tenure than they did in their first period at the helm in the country.
Does all this mean that our US-backed leaders are scurrilous turncoats jumping to secure their power and wealth under the new regime? Or do they possibly not see the whole turnover in the cataclysmic terms we seem to? I suspect it’s some of both. But I don’t know enough about the country to tell. Whichever it is seems highly relevant to how we got here and where this is going.
I flag this first because it seems highly newsworthy if we’re trying to understand just what is happening in the country. But it is remarkable to me that you can immerse yourself in the current US media coverage and as far as I can tell see very, very little discussion of this at all. I only noticed it and started digging around because I noticed Abdullah’s tweet and did some digging from there.
Note the sentence in bold face. The MSM whether after Katrina 2005 or Kabul 2021 has a fatal inability to admit a lack of expertise. Having a camera crew gives you neither wisdom nor knowledge. The endless hype and hyperbole are *almost* as bad as the news itself.
There *is* a major difference between the coverage of Katrina 2005 and Kabul 2021. As pointed out by Michael F last week, here’s how the MSM treats Republican and Democratic administrations during a crisis:
It’s enough to make me ham it up and emote like the late GOP stalwart Charlton Heston. The New York Times and CNN are so eager to disprove the “liberal media” label that they excused W’s 9/11 and Katrina ineptitude whereas Joe Biden is held to a much higher standard in 2021. Check out Eric Boehlert’s newsletter Press Run for more on the abominable press coverage.
Another difference between Katrina 2005 and Kabul 2021 is the reaction of politicians. Republicans offered full-throated defense of their president whereas Democrats are intimidated by the horrible images coming out of Kabul. In this instance, Shapiro was right when he wanted Democrats to react more like Republicans. Joe Biden made the right decision. National policy cannot be based on images no matter how horrible.
We’re back to the last sane person on cable news, Lawrence O’Donnell:
The American news media is very good at telling you the tragic individual stories of war, and it is very good at forgetting those stories.
It’s not just war stories, it’s all stories. That quote describes Katrina 2005 just as well as Kabul 2021 or Saigon 1975. Both American policymakers and the MSM keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
The last word goes to The Smithereens: