Sammon misrepresented poll data to assign "the lion's share of the blame" for Katrina response to "local and state officials"March 6, 2006 5:55 PM EST ››› JULIE MILLICAN
Appearing on the March 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, author and Washington Examiner senior White House correspondent Bill Sammon misrepresented poll data to suggest that the public believes "the lion's share of the blame" for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina "falls on the local and state officials." Apparently citing a September 2005 Gallup poll (subscription required), Sammon stated that "the truth of the matter" was that only "[t]hirteen percent" of respondents "blamed the federal government" for the lackluster response. In fact, 31 percent of those surveyed said either that "George W. Bush" or "federal agencies" were "most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane," compared with 25 percent who assigned the most blame to "state and local officials."
The Gallup poll, conducted September 5-6, 2005 -- the week after Hurricane Katrina made landfall -- asked respondents, "Who do you think is MOST responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane?" Of the choices offered, 13 percent said Bush was most to blame; 18 percent chose the federal government; 25 percent blamed state and local officials; and, a plurality, 38 percent, felt "no one was to blame." Far from showing the public assigning "the lion's share of blame" for the weak response to state and local officials, as Sammon claimed, the poll suggests that more people (31 percent ) considered either Bush himself or "federal agencies" the "most responsible" for the problems that ensued during the aftermath of Katrina than held state and local officials most responsible (25 percent). The poll surveyed 609 adults and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
Further, more recent polling data suggest that public opinion on the Katrina response has remained relatively steady. For instance, a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted February 22-26 found that 38 percent assigned the overall blame to federal officials -- FEMA, the federal government, or Bush -- while only 26 percent said they thought responsibility for the delayed response lie with state and local officials. Eleven percent blamed "the residents themselves."
From the March 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
SAMMON: It's worth repeating the obvious truth here, and that is, while there was a lot of blame to go around on Katrina, the lion's share of the blame falls on the local and state officials.
In fact, there was a poll at the time -- remember this? Gallup did a poll. Thirteen percent only, blamed the federal government. That's the truth of the matter.