Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.
The real total?
Six, Beron said.
Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.
A much different story than what was originally bandied about by not only the media, but by Mayor Nagin. Nagin, as we will recall, stated that "10,000" people perished during Kartrina. The real death toll? About 1000. Now, that is not meant to downplay the severity. One thousand people lost is still one thousand too many, and my prayers go out to the grieving families. But facts are facts.
Anyone remember the story regarding the convention center? Where bodies were stacked up in the freezer, including the body of a seven year-old girl with her throat slashed?
At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies have been recovered, despite reports of heaps of dead piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been murdered, said health and law-enforcement officials.
Four bodies. Only four. Yet, we were given a report from a National Guardsman that was checking the facility out.
Meanwhile, a National Guardsman showed a reporter the many bodies piled up in the New Orleans Convention Center, including in the freezer.
"Don't step in that blood – it's contaminated," Guardsman Mikel Brooks told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man."
Then he shined the light on a smaller human figure under a white sheet next to the elderly man.
"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."
Continued the soldier: "There's an old woman," pointing to a wheelchair covered by a sheet. "I escorted her in myself. And that old man got bludgeoned to death," he said of the body lying on the floor next to the wheelchair.
The Guardsmen stationed at the center say there are between 30 and 40 bodies in the freezer.
That was part of a report that Thomas put up on Sept. 8th. Thirty to forty bodies? Really. It seems the numbers revealed today do not fit with the numbers then. But that is not it. Further, from the Seattle Times story:
The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.
"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."
Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state Health and Human Services Department administrator overseeing the body-recovery operation, said his teams were inundated with false reports.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said authorities have only confirmed four murders in the entire city in the aftermath of Katrina — making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year.
"I had the impression that at least 40 or 50 murders had occurred at the two sites," he said. "It's unfortunate we saw these kinds of stories saying crime had taken place on a massive scale when that wasn't the case. And they [national media outlets] have done nothing to follow up on any of these cases; they just accepted what people [on the street] told them. ... It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism."
That should be the understatement of the year. It is not bad enough that the Louisiana government dropped the ball when it came to instituting its disaster plan. But it is more than evident that the MSM seems to have dropped the ball, as well. They passed off unsubstantiated reports, and then refusing to address them when it became clear that they were false. They pumped up the numbers of the dead. It is much like a most interesting analogy brought up by Laura Donoho of Wide Awake Cafe (link below):
There is a game called "telephone" that is played by children. The children sit in a circle and one child whispers something in the ear of the child next to them and on and on until the message has been whispered to everyone in the circle. The child who is whispered to last tells the message they have received and the child who whispered the message first tells the original message. There is usually uproarious laughter because it is rarely the same message.
The news media have been playing telephone about the reports of all the deaths and atrocities in the Super Dome and Convention Center in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
She is correct. That is precisely what the media did. There were no checks on facts, no corroborating witnesses, no official statements from the people involved in the efforts. What is worse is many of the reports made by the media may have forced law enforcement and recovery teams to areas where no help was needed, which further weakened the response. And if this is indeed the case, then I agree with John Hinderocker of PowerLine:
It's time for some accountability here. The conventional wisdom is that no one performed particularly well in the aftermath of Katrina--not local, state or federal authorities, and not considerable numbers of private citizens. But it now appears clear that the worst performance of all was turned in by the mainstream media. Congress should promptly investigate, and try to get to the bottom of the following questions:
How did so many false rumors come to be reported as fact?
Do news outlets have any procedures in place to avoid this kind of mis-reporting? If so, why did their procedures fail so miserably?
To what extent were the false rumors honest mistakes, and to what extent were they deliberate fabrications?
To the extent that the false reports were deliberate, did the press pass them on through sheer negligence, or did some reporters participate in deliberate fabrication?
Did the widespread breakdown in accurate reporting stem only from a failure to follow proper journalistic standards, or did it also reflect a deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration by passing on unconfirmed rumors as fact?
In deciding what stories to report, did the news media consider the likelihood that passing on false rumors would damage the rescue effort?
It is vitally important to get to the bottom of these questions, so that future natural disasters are not similarly mis-reported.
During, and in the wake of, disasters like Katrina, the press is depended upon to give the people the most accurate, best information possible so that overall everyone stays informed. This has been their job for quite some time, and should continue to be that way. But, this act of malfeasance by the MSM needs to end. This goes beyond a political bias. Because of their inept reporting, and their refusal to stand by a level of ethics involved in reporting stories, the efforts at recovery for Katrina were hampered. In that respect, the MSM is just as culpable in this fiasco as Mayor Nagin, and Governor Blanco.
The Bunny ;)