The fawning media radiated the past few days about President Obama painting the town red and being “Vacation Dad” on Martha’s Vineyard.”
All the while, a historic flood in some ways worse than Hurricane Katrina has been ravaging the beleaguered people in Louisiana.
Can you imagine George W. Bush whiling away the hours on an island golf vacation — and the media issuing hardly a whimper about it — while Katrina surged?
Can you imagine the media largely ignoring the disaster?
“Media coverage was so lacking,” wrote one article at HuffingtonPost.com, “that people living outside of the immediate area resorted to social media sites to update themselves on what was happening in the area.”
“The optics of Obama golfing while Louisiana residents languished in flood waters was striking,” writes Baton Rouge, La.’s The Advocate newspaper. “It evoked the precedent of the passive federal response to the state’s agony in 2005, a chapter of history no one should ever repeat.”
Bush’s response to Katrina may have been tardy — even as state and local officials badly fumbled the storm’s preparation and response. And he was unfairly blamed for flying over the destruction — when his landing might have caused more problems than it would’ve solved.
But at least he wasn’t out on the links.
“A disaster this big,” The Advocate wrote, “begs for the personal presence of the president at ground zero. In coming here, the president can decisively demonstrate that Louisiana’s recovery is a priority for his administration — and the United States of America.
“The president’s vacation is scheduled to wrap up on Sunday. But he should pack his bags now, and pay a call on communities who need to know that in a national catastrophe, they are not alone.”
One has to wonder: If the president were a Republican, would the media have shown more interest in the tragedy and the president’s poor optics? Wouldn’t he be accused of not caring?
“We’ve been through Hurricane Gustav, Katrina, Isaac and Rita,” one local sheriff said, “but this, without a doubt, is the roughest we’ve ever had in this parish.”
In that parish, Livingston, some three-quarters of the homes were damaged and 20,000 residents needed rescuing. A now-familiar, but still ghoulish, sight of floating caskets has accompanied this flood, which followed as much as 24 inches of rain in three days.
“As the scope of the devastation sunk in,” wrote the Los Angeles Times, “many Louisiana residents took to social media to rail against news outlets for what they believed was their lack of coverage. Why, some wondered, was the displacement of thousands of people less deserving of attention than the Olympics or Donald Trump?
“‘Why isn’t national media covering the floods in Louisiana?’ tweeted Amy Crowe Duhe, a Baton Rouge nursing student. ‘This is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.'”
Even the New York Times’ public editor called her paper out for its sluggish coverage.
None of this is to say the Bush administration was blameless in Katrina — only that the current administration, and the national media, might also be held to similar standards.
“Nor have cable news anchors flocked to the area as they did last month to cover the protests over Alton Sterling’s death and the ambush killing of three law enforcement officers,” writes the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.
“This is a sprawling human tragedy,” Salon political writer Sean Illing writes. “And it’s happening right now, just beyond the view of a media more interested in Justin Bieber’s Instagram status than in the sufferings of flyover country.”
Who’s guilty of flying over now?
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