Sunday, September 25, 2005

Meet the Water Carrier

To: Meet the Press
From: Yours truly
Re: Russert/Broussard interview, 9-25-05 (transcript, video)


Tim Russert's interview this morning with (Jefferson Parish president) Aaron Broussard was a low point in TV journalism. First he sandbagged his guest with a surprise replay of an earlier, painful breakdown - truly an unbearable moment. Then he badgered him on details and tried to force Mr. Broussard to absolve the federal government of blame.

In the first action, Mr. Russert showed a breathtaking lack of human decency. He could have asked his questions without airing that painful clip. It was sheer exploitation and obviously deeply upsetting to Mr. Broussard.

In the second, Mr. Russert veered dangerously close to carrying water for Karl Rove. Since when does Meet the Press stoop to the cowardly "some people say" formulation? Precisely whom is Mr. Russert referring to when he says "a number of bloggers have questioned the validity of Broussard's story"? Which bloggers, please? What is their agenda? And what was the purpose of this line of inquiry, focusing on the details of one painful anecdote out of a long series of powerful statements - turning back water, refusing access to fuel, cutting emergency communications - in Mr. Broussard's earlier interview?

Instead of browbeating a hardworking and heroic civil servant who is up to his neck in tragedy, why doesn't Meet the Press spend a few reporting dollars exploring how and why not just Michael Brown, but five out of eight top FEMA officials got appointed with virtually zero disaster experience? Or why FEMA sent 100 buses in response to a Louisiana National Guard request (before the storm hit) for 700 buses? Or how Halliburton got itself another no-bid contract for cleanup? Or aren't the "right" blogs asking those questions?


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