Is it possible for CNN to do a 7 1/2 minute segment about Hurricane Katrina without mentioning George W. Bush's name?
Given the media's approaching five year obsession with blaming one of America's largest natural disasters on a Republican president, it seems highly unlikely, doesn't it?
Yet that's what happened on "Reliable Sources" Sunday when Howard Kurtz invited Harry Shearer on the program to talk about his new documentary "The Big Uneasy."
In it, Shearer claims the media badly missed the boat in their reporting of what caused the flooding in New Orleans (video follows with transcript and commentary):
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: But the other issue is the writing of the history as to why this happened and it could it happen again? Now, here, you zero in on the Army Corps of Engineers.
You feel the mainstream media missed the mark, or is that overstating it?
HARRY SHEARER: A, I don't zero in. The people who did the investigations, the scientists and engineers who actually know what they're talking about, zeroed in on the Army Corps of Engineers, four decades plus of malfeasance and misfeasance that led to this disaster.
I think the national news media basically did take a walk away from that as the core of this story, that this was a manmade disaster. And that's why I was led to make the movie, to sort of try to correct the record now five years on.
KURTZ: Why do you think national journalists walked away from the story? I mean, in other words, was it just short attention span? Was it laziness? Or was it a failure to dig?
SHEARER: Well, I think it's all of those things. And again, I go back to this quote from this anchor person, that the emotional stories are what gets eyeballs. And this is deep stuff.
I mean, I worried as I started to make this movie, I'm not taking people to engineering school. I can't be an instructional film. I can't --
KURTZ: You're not Al Gore standing up with the charts and the graphs.
What should jump out at readers and viewers alike is "four decades plus of malfeasance and misfeasance that led to this disaster."
Hmmm. Four decades. Wouldn't that mean this disaster was caused by at least some malfeasance that occurred before George W. Bush was in the White House?
And wasn't that a contention of many conservatives at the time: decades of malfeasance and corruption in New Orleans led to a levee system in a state of disrepair?
But that didn't fit the media template back then which was all about blaming Bush and anything that could possibly diminish this despicable accusation was verboten.
Not surprisingly, five years later, Kurtz didn't ask Shearer whether his research for this documentary uncovered anything that refuted the press's claims that this disaster was all the 43rd President's fault.
By contrast, Bush's name was mentioned seven times in a prior segment about how the media covered Michelle Obama's Spanish vacation last week.