In a Wednesday CBS Evening News story on shortcomings in FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina, reporter Randall Pinkston cited “frustrations that reached as far away as the state of Maine, where officials received ice that was supposed to go to the Gulf Coast." Pinkston touted how “former President Jimmy Carter, who created FEMA, criticized the Bush administration's decision to strip the agency's independence." Viewers then saw a clip of Jimmy Carter from a Tuesday night forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta: "This obviously lowered FEMA's status so that they would have to go through four or five levels of bureaucracy even to reach the President, whereas FEMA used to deal directly with the President." Of course, that decision -- good or bad -- had bi-partisan support in Congress. (Neither ABC or NBC found Carter's remarks newsworthy.)
Full transcript of the story follows.
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the September 21 CBS Evening News piece.
Anchor John Roberts: "With Rita on the way, President Bush today declared a state of emergency for Texas and Louisiana and pledged this time to be ready for the worst. Randall Pinkston reports FEMA and other disaster agencies are determined to show they learned the lessons of Katrina in time for Rita."
Randall Pinkston: "This time, FEMA is leaving no stone unturned, no bus unchartered, to get ready for the next monster hurricane. With supplies, equipment and manpower in place from Florida to Texas, the official in charge of homeland security insists FEMA is ready."
Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary: "We want to make sure that things that are delivered are delivered in the right place at the right time."
Pinkston: "That didn't happen with Katrina, not in the desperate days after the storm-triggered flood in New Orleans when thousands were stranded, or in the weeks following when local officials waited for promised assistance. Yesterday, three weeks after Katrina, FEMA finally opened a disaster center in the town of Slidell, Louisiana."
Ben Morris, Mayor of Slidell, Louisiana: "Every mayor, every government official had some frustrations with FEMA."
Pinkston: "Frustrations that reached as far away as the state of Maine, where officials received ice that was supposed to go to the Gulf Coast."
Jimmy Carter: "It was, I think, disgraceful."
Pinkston: "Former President Jimmy Carter, who created FEMA, criticized the Bush administration's decision to strip the agency's independence."
Carter: "This obviously lowered FEMA's status so that they would have to go through four or five levels of bureaucracy even to reach the President, whereas FEMA used to deal directly with the President."
Pinkston: "The Katrina debacle forced former chief Michael Brown's resignation. The new acting director resisted comparisons."
R. David Paulison, FEMA Acting Director: "I'm not going to get into what happened in Katrina, you know. I'm dealing with what we can do for Texas right now."
Pinkston: "And to make sure the nation knows what it's doing, FEMA rolled out its own video of storm preparations: In Florida, 50 truckloads of water and ice, in Texas, 45 truckloads of water, 45 of ice, nine search-and-rescue teams, and nine medical assistance teams. FEMA officials don't want to make comparisons with Katrina, but one change in the agency's response is obvious: The military is front and center. This time, the government seems determined not to lose the battle to red tape. Randall Pinkston, CBS News, Kenner, Louisiana."