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.)