I’m very inter­ested in the reac­tions of the US media to the hur­ricane. No, cor­rec­tion, the US media reac­tion to the government’s inac­tion on the hur­ricane. And it’s not just inac­tion: there seems to be a com­plete lack of com­pre­hen­sion on the part of some of the people in the Amer­ican ruling class (like Bar­bara Bush) as to the mag­nitude of this dis­aster or even the reality of poverty and dis­ad­vantage.

This art­icle from the SMH sums up a lot of it, both what Bar­bara actu­ally said and the growing out­rage of journ­al­ists on the front line dealing with the widening gap between their day-to-day exper­i­ence and the pol­ished ver­sion delivered in mahogany board rooms. There’s a sim­ilar art­icle from The Aus­tralian. And here’s an art­icle about how pho­to­journ­al­ists are dealing with the viol­ence and death on the streets of New Orleans. Oh, and the incred­ible Times-Picayune, the main New Orleans met­ro­pol­itan daily, which has not ceased to pub­lish but has simply trans­ferred its entire oper­a­tions on to the Web and PDF.

The other inter­esting effect is the old cred­ib­ility, the rumour mill and the Internet trick. This post describes how the “Bush was caught posing in front of staged food points” rumour got spread around the blo­go­sphere and how it developed out of a (legit­imate) cri­ti­cism of helper per­sonnel only clearing rubble around where the Pres­ident was being filmed and leaving with him. The lack of links to prime sources in the ori­ginal report should have tipped people off that the report needed fur­ther veri­fic­a­tion. Non­ethe­less, it sounded so plaus­ible that it was very easy to ignore that. I mean, we all saw, with our own eyes on SBS, exactly what they did with the Saddam statue and the army admitted it, so any­thing was pos­sible.

So, now I’m inter­ested in the various claims that other coun­tries have dealt with dis­asters faster than this. I’ve been doing some googling but haven’t found reli­able links yet. So far, I’ve had people say to me that the Dutch have done it faster, that the Thai gov­ern­ment mobil­ised faster for the recent tsunami (two days was the claim) and that pre­vious Pres­id­ents have done it better/faster in the US. (Please don’t respond to this with lengthy quotes from sites; links to your source will be just fine, thanks.)

[Thanks vari­ously to patch­workkid, dr_nic, wildsoda and journ­al­ists for these links]