“Who’s in charge?” CNN on the Attack

Interesting stuff on CNN this morning.

Miles O’Brien had a good time beating up the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin.  The diatribe featured lots of hostile accusation of "turf defense,"  poor planning, vacillation, etc.  Nagin tried to tell O’Brien that the city must be revived and that people want to go home but that he had directed a halt to the return because of the oncoming storm. Rita.  This was to no avail.  The attack went on.

O’Brien then brought on James Carville and tried the same thing out on him.  He must have been surprised to hear Carville say that the people of new Orleans want to see their elected mayor in charge.  He then said something probably unintelligible in the corporate offices of CNN.  He reminded O’Brien of MG Ben Butler, the Union military governor of New Orleans in the Civil War.  How surprising!!

Carol Costello, who once remarked that she had been interested to learn that Costello was sometimes an Irish name, had an even better time working over the Mayor of Gretna, Louisiana.  He tried to tell her that his decision to block the bridge to New Orleans was a public safety decision but she insisted that there was more to it than that, Gotcha!!  Costello then interviewed Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish as to his reaction to what was going on.  Broussard stated his support for Mayor Nagin.  Then, later in the interview, he said what he believed to be the necessary requirements for life in the area as it is re-occupied.  An hour later CNN replayed his interview and edited out his support for Nagin.  Costello then went on to interview one Clancy Dubose (Phonetic)in Baton Rouge.  Clancy is a columnist of some kind.  She attempted to elicit a denunciation of Mayor Nagin from this man who resisted manfully in spite of her repeated interruptions and attempts to re-direct his comments.  At last he finally said that" maybe the feds should take over."  With visible relief, Costello said "Well, they are trying to do so but the Mayor inists that it is his city…."  Mission Accomplished.

What’s going on here?  Could it be that CNN is responding to "thematic" guidance at the corporate level?  What would the theme be?  Would it be that the incompetence and  immorality of local government in Louisiana should cause the American people to demand federal control there?

Pat Lang

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13 Responses to “Who’s in charge?” CNN on the Attack

  1. phinky says:

    What liberal media? Ladies and gentlemen your choices in 24hr cable news are Pravda, La Verdad and the Truth as defined by our one party (GOP) state.
    Pardon my snarkiness, but last night I watched Scarborough and Carlson attack Mayor Nagin for flip-floping. I believe Congressman Scarborough would have done the same flip flop if he was in the same position.

  2. RJJ says:

    Federal control? Is there any legal mechanism for such a thing? How could they do that?
    The media’s first choice is the Grisly Remains story (aka a Chandra). New Orleans has supplied that in abundance. This may just a derivative.
    Perhaps it is just a LOOK OVER THERE!! What else is happening? This crap keeps people from focusing on the galloping political gangrene (for which see TPM).

  3. marta says:

    If I were in Mayor Nagin’s position I would be very concerned about the various reconstruction schemes and the average New Orleanian’s opportunity to participate in them. If there are no workers around to hire, KBR might be tempted to bring in their low wage Philipinos and Pakistanis.
    A number of people have noted the creepy parallel of the initial CPA contract frenzy related to Iraq and the New Orleans reconstruction. I am especially struck by the gall of some members of Congress who believe that the Katrina catastrophe, like the Iraq invasion, makes for an ideal situation to “experiment” (their word) with ideas and policies that would never fly with their own constituents.
    What is especially troubling about the school vouchers, flat tax, reduced environmental protections, non-prevailing wage pay (is there anywhere in the nation that has lower wages than Mississippi and Louisiana to begin with? WTF??) is that, in essence, the fact that elected officials and their think tank cronies feel so free to try to impose these types of policies is evidence of a profound lack of respect for the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. These people are viewed as if they are as powerless as the Iraqis. (Which is not to say that I personally don’t have a healthy respect for the Iraqi people and their culture. But, this obviously was not the prevailing view of the Neos, Jacobins, etc.) This lack of respect, this tacit acknowledgement of powerlessness, is manifested in the idea that we can “experiment” on this devastated area.
    Can anyone imagine some ultra right-wingers from Indiana and the Heritage Foundation trying to tell the people of New York after 9/11 that prevailing wages would not be honored during clean-up? The firefighters would have buried them under the rubble. Clearly, Nagin and Blanco could have done more to mitigate some of the misery, but right now it looks like they are the only guardians of the free will and economic hopes of their constituents. With Haley Barbour running Mississippi, and not complaining loudly about the thousands of Gulf Coast people who have STILL not seen any relief workers, I shudder when I think about the “experiments” that may well be carried out there.

  4. RJJ says:

    “These people are viewed as if they are as powerless as the Iraqis.”
    I suspect “these people” are us. K Street Kool Aid is heady stuff.

  5. wtofd says:

    CK, have you read John Robb’s latest on Basra?

  6. Some Guy says:

    I would be worried about another CPA in the U.S. if I were Nagin. It is much easier to play games with rebuilding when all the citizens are scattered hither and yon. That said, the danger of letting people back in is not to be scoffed at.
    The attempt to make Nagin the center of hostility has obvious benefits to the WH. But why CNN would do such a choreographed hit job is indeed disturbing.
    Tomorrow will they go after anyone who suggests a regulation-free, tax-free circus of development is not the most “nimble” way to rebuild?
    I keep thinking the worst of this will be over, but it just seems like an endless conveyor belt of mistakes are in store.
    How to pile on after a natural disaster: do a little social experimenting to prove you ideological huntches.

  7. BadTux says:

    All I can do is shake my heads. The affected area contained 1/3rd of the population of Louisiana and 1/3rd of its resources and infrastructure. The only governor who could function effectively with 1/3rd of her state destroyed would be God Herself.
    As for the criticisms of Mayor Nagin, they are even more misguided. New Orleans was a poor city with a miniscule tax base and few resources. No mayor in the United States could have managed a 100% evacuation of New Orleans given the resources Nagin had at his disposal, and as for the aftermath, even God Himself would have had difficulty maintaining public order after the entire city’s infrastructure was destroyed. The last time a major city was destroyed — San Francisco in 1906 — looting and rioting broke out within hours, and was stopped only by the arrival of active-duty military troops deputized as police officers by the mayor of San Francisco with “shoot to kill” orders. The fact that there were no riots in New Orleans, and that the looting did not start until 48 hours after the hurricane had destroyed most of the city, make Nagin look practically saintly by comparison.
    But of course the Busheviks don’t care what reality is. They will happily libel war heros as cowards — all the while running a draft dodger for President! — if that is what it takes to achieve their goals. I’m somewhat puzzled as to what their goals could be right now, and the suspicion that they are trying for a federal takeover of the disaster area… well, okay, but why? It doesn’t make sense. The Busheviks have no interest in governing, only in looting, so why would they worry about who handles the rebuilding of the gulf coast? Unless… well, unless they want to funnel that $200B worth of rebuilding money to their cronies again, like they did with the Iraq reconstruction money, billions of dollars of which just… DISAPPEARED… into the pockets of Bush cronies. But we’re talking about Americans, not Iraqis, who are about to have their needed help plundered. Surely even the Busheviks don’t think they could get away with that?
    – Badtux the Louisianian in Exile

  8. BadTux says:

    Oh, regarding Clancy Dubose — that is an old-line New Orleans family tightly tied to the existing power structure there, and Clancy makes his living as a “political consultant”, mostly serving the Landrieus (another old-line New Orleans political family). Mayor Nagin is *their* man — a black Republican (switched to Democrat shortly before filing for election) elected in order to put a black face upon their policies. It is no surprise that they still support him — he is, after all, their man, and if the Feds come in and federalize the city they lose too.
    Nagin is beloved by the New Orleans business community in general. Within 100 days of coming into office, he had arrested over 100 New Orleans officials for taking bribes in exchange for licenses and permits. He was, and is, a major component of their long-term plan to turn New Orleans into a major business center again. There are few black politicians willing to work with the (mostly-white) business community in New Orleans, and Nagin is in the end one of them — a successful business executive with a pro-business agenda. Because of the state of race relations in New Orleans it is impossible for a white politician to do the kinds of things that Nagin had done prior to the hurricane, things like clean up the patronage, rein in the power of the city workers’ unions and cut out waste and anti-productive work rules, etc., that no white mayor would have been able to do because he would have been accused of being “racist”.
    I don’t think the white business community is ready to jettison Nagin yet. He still is their man, and unless he does something completely out of character, will remain so, because there just aren’t that many black businessmen around to put up front as a face for pro-business policies. You can bet that Nagin’s plan to re-open New Orleans had been made in close consultance with the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, and that the former powers-that-be of New Orleans are just as worried about the Feds coming in and taking over their city as everybody else in the area is.

  9. RJJ says:

    Can anybody explain how they could federalize (or in this case, Texas Mafiosize) a city beyond the restoration of public order?
    A city is a corporation. It can’t be federalized. The word sovereign comes to mind, but not sure if or how it applies.

  10. Pat Lang says:

    Money provides leverage. pl

  11. bkny says:

    it’s good to see this issue get some attention. i’ve been alarmed by the apparent sympathetic response of the wdc chatterboxes like blitzer and matthews to expanded military powers in these situations. it’s certainly been on bush’s (cheney’s) mind from the very first — recall the feds pressure on blanco to cede authority.
    william cohen attempted to tamp down that enthusiasm on blitzer’s program last week, but to apparent little effect.
    BLITZER: …The president last night in his speech on the Katrina disaster said, you know what, one of the lessons I’ve already learned is the United States military is sort of the best positioned to deal with these disasters. And we got to learn how to use the military better. You heard those words. You are a former Defense secretary, former U.S. senator. You know the subject well. Was he right?
    COHEN: Well, I think right in the sense that the United States military is the only institution in the United States that has the capacity, the logistical capacity, the medical reinforcement capability, providing beds and assistance to those who are either wounded or, in this case, damaged by the hurricane and the winds. But we have to go fairly carefully here.
    The so-called posse comitatus statue is there for a reason. Historically, Americans are very suspicious of having a standing army that that standing army can be used for oppression and for tyranny. And so there have been very strict, very strict restrictions on the use of that military. We’ve seen some erosion of that act over the years. For example, we use the military for counter-drug activity. You could have the Insurrection Act being applied here, where the president could act to put down a rebellion at the request of a governor or such. So …
    BLITZER: But you need a governor to sign off on that?
    COHEN: Right, you’ve got to be careful on that because, yes, the military could take over and control that very effectively, but then the question is, is the military in charge or is civilian authorities in charge? So it’s something that needs to be looked at. Senator Warner, for example, has written to Secretary Rumsfeld to ask for review of all the legislation on the books to see what the role of the military should be in the future.
    In my judgment, this was not an issue of the lack of the military being prepared, but rather, a failure of leadership, certainly, within the Homeland Security and on down, through state and local government.”

  12. wtofd says:

    CK, yes, John Robb of Global Guerrillas. Who is Lind?

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