Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What MOM says about THE GREAT DELUGE

To begin, I can't think of anything on the national level quite comparable to the local media's reaction to The Great Deluge. During the 2000 election, there was exaggerated outrage in response to Fahrenheit 911 combined with repeated distortions--I believe that Brinkley focused on hiding much more than crying--in an effort to turn it into a campaign issue, but that was mostly in the conservative media. Of course, the major difference would be that Bush was, in fact, the target of Fahrenheit 911, Nagin was, at most, a target of The Great Deluge--if the The Great Deluge can even be said to have had targets in the same mannner that Fahrenheit did.

I have no idea rather real life criminal investigators ever discuss MOM--motive, opportunity, means--or whether it was an invention of TV crime writers. However, it would be a good test for journalists (or bloggers) to subject their theories to before alleging planned questionable activity. On the theory that the release of The Great Deluge was timed to influence the election, even motive doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Leaving Brinkley out of the picture, what would have been HarperCollins motive? To keep Brinkley happy? It's possible, but it certainly would have involved a rather interesting conversation between author and publisher. Since the Fall mid-term elections are largely expected to be a referendum on the President's performance, and since the book is very critical of Bush (did the T/P's political columnists read the book editor's column?) a late Summer release would have been much more controversial.

It would be laughable to hear Grace, DeBerry or Steve Sabludowsky even attempt to establish opportunity. I have no idea how far in advance book release dates are set (a quick google search wasn't very informative, I doubt that Brinkley's local critics gave it much thought), but I imagine that for large printings with accompanying publicity tours and magazine cover articles, the logistics of scheduling and re-scheduling would be rather difficult. A federal judge gave the final approval to the rescheduled elections, day before the April 22 primary. It could have been planned, but one can't help but wonder whether Grace, DeBerry and Sabludowsky even considered Ockham's razor.

Since I'm not alleging planned wrongdoing, the same test would not apply to the above. Although, I wouldn't put dishonest reporting on the recent election past Sabludowsky, there's does seem to be some connection between Sabludowsky's BayouBuzz and the GNOR. In the case of DeBerry and Grace, it would probably be more subconscious based on the fact that they just liked Nagin (the maverick) more than Landrieu (the political insider). It might have had something to do with what I said about the Times Picayoyo (lame attempt at being clever, accurate description, IMO), though. I'll explain that when I finish the subject tomorrow or Thursday.

Yes, but it looks like Katrina books are tumbling off the presses and into the binders. I think it serendipity, and the author if rather fond of his role as cable TV commentator, and jumping Nagin was an easy ticket to keep in that ego trip.
I certainly don't enjoy defending a celebrity historian, but the attacks on the book--DeBerry's in particular-- seem to be more overstated than anything in the book.

Frankly, I may have overstated my case. Had it not been so late, I'd have rewritten the post. One could plausibly argue that the timing of the book's was suspicious, but to take it as a given that it was deliberately timed to influence the campaign is just absurd. Of course, one would expect that to be a Nagin campaign talking point, but it was by no means the obvious fact that Grace and DeBerry implied.

And considering that Grace and DeBerry were both silent when the picures of flooded school buses filled the airwaves in September, their complaints about timing are rather rich. Their most spirited defenses of Nagin didn't come when defending Nagin would have defended the city's image, but during the campaign. Yes, DeBerry wrote a column about it before the campaign began, but that was in December--three months after the anti-New Orleans backlash dominated the airwaves and the internet.
Whatever happened to Brinkley's cat and maid he left behind when he evacuated?
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