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ABC World News and CBS Evening News aired comments by President Bush at his January 12 press conference in defense of his administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina, during which he asserted in part: "[C]ould I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge?" However, neither network's report noted the bipartisan congressional criticism of the Bush administration's response to Katrina.
In an article headlined "Bush's Sensitive Side is Showing," Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen quoted former Bush official John DiIulio saying, "Clinton talked, 'I feel your pain.' ... But as Bush showed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he truly does feel deeply for others and loves this country with a passion." Despite quoting DiIulio's characterization of Bush's expressions of empathy as genuine and Clinton's not, at no point did Eggen mention Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, for which he was widely criticized.
On Your World, Neil Cavuto did not challenge Rep. Michelle Bachmann's false claim that "[w]e didn't have any spillage whatsoever from the oil rigs during Katrina." In fact, a report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm identified damage from Hurricane Katrina to 27 platforms and rigs that resulted in the spilling of approximately 2,843 barrels of petroleum products into the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite noting that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was "widely criticized in 2005 for not evacuating his city before [Hurricane] Katrina" and that former FEMA director Michael Brown "was forced to resign shortly after the storm as the extent of the agency's failings became clear," an AP article that quoted DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff describing government efforts to prepare for Hurricane Gustav did not note that two congressional reports on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina specifically faulted Chertoff.
On CNN Newsroom, Ali Velshi falsely claimed, "In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 40 of these [offshore drilling] platforms, but still no oil shed into the Gulf of Mexico because of that." In fact, a 2007 report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm identified damage from Katrina to 27 platforms and rigs that resulted in the spilling of approximately 2,843 barrels of petroleum products into the Gulf of Mexico.
Fox news host Gregg Jarrett did not challenge the false assertion by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman that "[w]hen we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in at least in recent memory, in '05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a -- a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment." In fact, according to a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in 124 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of more than 17,000 barrels of petroleum.
On MSNBC Live, Andrea Mitchell again failed to challenge the false assertion that Hurricane Katrina did not result in any oil spills, despite a report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service that found 5,552 barrels of oil and petroleum products were spilled from Outer Continental Shelf structures as a result of damage caused by Katrina.
On his radio program, Bill O'Reilly stated, "Remember when Katrina hit, none of the oil rigs spilled in Louisiana." However, O'Reilly did not note that according to a report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm, Hurricane Katrina resulted in 70 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of approximately 5,552 barrels of oil and petroleum products, including 27 spills from platforms and rigs that resulted in the spilling of approximately 2,843 barrels of petroleum.
On Fox & Friends, Mike Huckabee falsely asserted, "When Katrina, a Cat-5 hurricane, hit the Gulf Coast, not one drop of oil was spilled off of those rigs out in the Gulf of Mexico." In fact, according to a report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm, damages related to Hurricane Katrina resulted in 70 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of approximately 5,552* barrels of oil and petroleum products.
On MSNBC Live, responding to a comment by Andrea Mitchell about "the massive 1969 oil spill" in Santa Barbara, California, Sen. Richard Burr stated: "Well, Andrea, how technology has changed since 1969. It can take a Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf that really came twice, and the technology made sure that there wasn't a drop that was spilled in the Gulf." In fact, a report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service stated that as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita "124 [oil] spills were reported with a total volume of roughly 17,700 barrels of total petroleum products."
On his radio show, Neal Boortz asked: "[W]hy is it that the people who are being affected by the floods in Iowa and the upper Midwest, why is it that they seem to be so much more capable of taking care of themselves and handling this disaster than were the people of Katrina in New Orleans?" Boortz continued, "I think the answer's pretty clear, is that up there in that part of the country, you find a great deal of self-sufficiency. Down there in New Orleans, it was basically a parasite class totally dependent on government for their existence."
NBC's Today and CBS' The Early Show both aired interviews with Sen. John McCain while the candidate was in New Orleans, but in neither case asked McCain about controversial comments that one of his endorsers, Pastor John Hagee, recently made about Hurricane Katrina, though both programs discussed controversial comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
On his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz made disparaging remarks about Hurricane Katrina victims, stating, "When these Katrina so-called refugees were scattered about the country, it was just a glorified episode of putting out the garbage." Boortz also described New Orleans as "a city of parasites, a city of people who could not and had no desire to fend for themselves."
CNN's Ed Henry uncritically reported that "local Republicans hammered the point that, unlike in Louisiana, California officials only relied on the feds for the secondary help," quoting Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray as saying, "I think that's how the system's actually designed, and it's worked great." But the House Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina found that Katrina was not a "normal" disaster, but a "catastrophic" one; thus, federal officials should have "clearly and forcefully instruct[ed] everyone involved with the federal response to be proactive, anticipate future requirements, develop plans to fulfill them, and execute those plans without waiting for formal requests from overwhelmed state and local response officials."