Monday, February 05, 2007

NBC Update

As expected, tonight's NBC News segment didn't go into much detail. However, Tuesday's show will be anchored from New Orleans. You have to give Brian Williams credit for at least saying the right things:
“New Orleans needs it,” he said. “If we, of all people, ever turn our backs on this story, we’re worthy of scorn and much blame.”

It might actually get interesting:
Tuesday, Williams will report on how the New Orleans Fire Department is coping.

A couple of points of interest in tonight's report:
So far, only about half the $110 billion allotted by the federal government has actually been spent. Officials at all levels complain that bureaucratic red tape has choked off the recovery.

The first chokepoint: A federal requirement that state or local governments must provide 10 percent of the money for rebuilding projects.

Louisiana officials complain that requirement, designed to reduce corruption, is their biggest impediment.

"That match requirement is bollixing up the works," says Sean Reilly, a board member with the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "It's gumming it up."

That's a step in the right direction, but it would be nice to see a follow-up report by somebody who's read Christopher's Cooper's WSJ article:
According to the White House, the federal government has provided $110 billion for the Gulf Coast region. But nowhere near that amount of actual cash has been made available. The total is spread over five states and covers damage done by three separate storms. Some of it consists of loans. A chunk comes from government insurance payouts that ultimately derived from premiums paid by homeowners themselves.

The Stafford Act has been waived in the past -- it didn't apply to Manhattan in September 2001 or South Florida following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 -- but it remains in place along the Gulf. President Bush dropped the Act for a time for certain projects, such as emergency repairs and debris removal, only to reinstate it later.

Just in case Cooper didn't make the point clearly enough, let's hope the follow-up report is done by somebody who's also read da po'blog.

In one area, NBC seems to be taking talking points from the RNC or The Times Picayune:
In Louisiana, fewer than 1 percent of homeowners who applied for have gotten any money. In Mississippi, about 68 percent have received checks.

No mention of the fact that Mississippi got its money six months before Louisiana. I don't want make too much of that point. That excuse can't possibly mean much to homeowners that need their recovery money. I started to write that the excuse must be getting old, but we never see it in the reporting.

Since I'm not a Blanco supporter,I should just ignore the lack of context. As a matter of fact, posting was light this weekend because a post that was intended as a demand that Nagin be held to the same standards as Blanco (or subject to similar criticisms) kept reading like a defense of Blanco, rather than a criticism of Nagin. Or a criticism of the local media coverage of Nagin.

They're sensationalizing and going for the easy story 90% of the time. The other 10% means that they're doing more than just about every other media outlet.
That's about right. In print you could probably say the same thing about the NYT.
This post will be included in today's edition of the "Carnival of Hurricane Relief." See
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