Your Lying Eyes

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26 September 2005

Reports That Conditions in NOLA Were Exaggerated are Exaggerated

An article from the Louisiana Times-Picayune ( has been circulating around (it was on Drudge) which claims that the horror stories from New Orleans were greatly exaggerated. This claim itself appears to be overstated. The article employs straw-man news reports to make its claim.
...Read more
Strawman #1:
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying. - Huh? I watched an awful lot of Katrina coverage, but never once heard anything like that - The real total was six, Beron said. - That's more like what I remember hearing - six deaths in the Dome.

Strawman #2
"I think 99 percent of it is bulls---," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything.... Ninety-nine percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved." Well, ok, but reports of chaos and anarchy were not from the Dome, they were from the Convention Center.

Strawman #3
Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized[what piles of bodies?!], and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened. - get that - it was a fucking nightmare, but it wasn't a complete and total fucking nightmare, dammit!

The article then attempts to ridicule one of the demonstrably true reports that a guardsman was shot in the leg - it turns out the wound was self-inflicted. Why did the soldier shoot himself? "In the darkness, as he walked through about six inches of water, Watt was attacked with a metal rod..." - so he shot himself while trying to fight off a thug beating him with a metal rod! Silly soldier, shooting himself in the leg; silly media, exaggerating again!

The Convention Center is where all the controversy was, because this ended up being an impromptu shelter - thus there were no weapons searches, no authorities in place. The article makes a half-hearted effort to whitewash the situation: Inside the Convention Center, the rumors of widespread violence have proved hard to substantiate, as well, though the masses of evacuees endured terrifying and inhumane conditions. Yeah, sounds like a lovely time. Probably the best that can be said about conditionas at the Convention Center is that there is only one substantiated murder, that there was likely only a handful of rapes, and that gunfire in the center may have been only intermittent, not continuous. There is no doubt about the voracious and destructive looting that occurred and the general lawlessness that prevailed.

This "exaggerated reports" meme is going to have some serious legs. Right now it's being promoted by Bush apologists as a way to rub away some of the stain Katrina has left on this administration. It will then be picked up in due course (after they've let all the witless Republicans do the heavy lifting for them) by leftists to promote their view of an oppressive society in league with a racist media. It will be this latter charge that will take hold - the collective memory of Bush incompetence will stick while the media will pound away on the race angle for years to come.


Blogger Glaivester said...

Dear Ziel:

The rest of your post is not showing up when I clcik on more.

September 27, 2005 10:11 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Glaivester - Thanks bud - fixed

September 27, 2005 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard all of those reports as described (and knew they were BS). How about the 14 year old girl raped to death or the 10,000 deaths?
see this

It was plain old bad reporting (does anyone check sources themselves) and
sensationalization (is that a word), In reality Blanco wouldn't let the Red Cross bring in supplies so they were forced to deal with the problem at the dome and CC.

Maybe if the folk in the dome or those who went to the convention center followed an established
code of conduct it might have been an entirely different outcome.

September 27, 2005 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, this one got posted on Sailer's site! First colored one I've ever seen there. :-)

September 27, 2005 9:27 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Reports of one 14 year old girl being raped and murdered does not constitute a gross exaggeration.
Even in that story, which is a British report, not from American medi, aside from the 10,000 death estimate which does seem preposterous in retrospect, and the rape/murder reported by an alleged eye witness, nothing seemed too out of whack. Even still, the death toll is climbing to near 1000 - not quite 10,000, but an awful lot. How many of those were murder victims? We may not know for quite a while, and even then it will take a considerably dedicated group of medical examiners to discover bullet holes in badly decomposed bodies when few will care or notice.
So I'm just not seeing any truly gross exaggerations. No one has been able to deny the rescuers reports of being shot at, the videos of cops and citizens helping themselves to treats at Wal-Mart, the terror felt by white tourists in the dome - I think under the circumstances there was relatively little embellishment since there were so many reporters actually on the scene talking to people as events unfolded.
And,yes, that is an excellent code of conduct from back in the day.

September 27, 2005 9:28 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Hey, this one got posted on Sailer's site!
Yes, very exciting! - but now I really feel under pressure to produce - oh well, it was fun while it lasted

September 27, 2005 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fear breeds exaggeration. 10,000 deaths sounded fantastic when I first heard it. Perhaps people were trying to get Chertoff and Brown to react. NOLA is a tough town, used to rape and lawlessness. But, they probably did not expect to be ignored for days.

September 28, 2005 3:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

About people shooting at rescuers. Have there been any pictures, or eyewitness or firsthand accounts in news stories?

September 29, 2005 1:32 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

TC - good question. I'll take a look at some reports and see if there are any quoted rescuers.

September 29, 2005 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the same reporter who wrote the above article, Brian Thevenot, wrote the article about those 30-40 bodies in that freezer that he now says did not exist. He didn't bother to verify the Guardsmen's story I guess

Bodies found piled in freezer at Convention Center

By Brian Thevenot

September 29, 2005 10:50 PM  
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