WASHINGTON—Insisting that he was trying to hold officials accountable, NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert was anxious on his September 4th program to blame the federal government alone for the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff appeared on the show only to be badgered by Russert about resigning and “accountability.”
AIM editor Cliff Kincaid commented, “One has to wonder what the impact would be if the federal official directing the relief effort were to suddenly quit, in response to Russert’s demand. Then the media would have something else to complain about. Then the media would charge that Chertoff had left the department short-handed at a time of crisis when he should be helping people.”
Kincaid noted that no heads rolled after NBC put on a September 2nd Hurricane relief program that itself turned into a disaster. The program, designed to raise money for victims, showed a rapper named Kanye West making the reckless and absurd charge that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” NBC dismissed the inflammatory and racially polarizing comments by saying that he didn’t follow the script and was giving viewers his “opinion.”
“My opinion is that NBC is playing politics with a national disaster,” said Kincaid. “If Russert and the rest of the media are determined to play the blame game, a better use of time might be to ask local and state officials why dozens of city school buses weren’t used to evacuate poor blacks and whites from the city. An AP photo showed the buses partly underwater after the levee broke. Why didn’t Russert ask any questions about that? Is this supposed to be Bush’s fault, too?”
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.