Paging Staten Islanders: Atlantic's Franke-Ruta Insists that Obama Hasn't Let Post-Sandy Cleanup Efforts 'Fester'

Updated: Franke-Ruta tweeted back | In a segment on the November 5 Now with Alex Wagner, Garance Franke-Ruta argued that it was "not preordained" that the devastation from Hurricane Sandy and Obama's subsequent photo-op responses would "work in his favor. The Atlantic magazine writer made those observations during a panel discussion on how, in Wagner's words, the hurricane "broke Mitt Romney's momentum" and that a "meme" the GOP can "seize on" should Gov. Romney fail to win tomorrow is to outright blame the cyclone for the loss.

Franke-Ruta offered that if Hurricane Katrina had happened eight days prior to Bush's 2004 reelection, it would have sunk his reelection chances and offered that, unlike Bush, Obama had not let the problems in the devastated areas "fester." Something tells me a number of Staten Islanders would take issue with you. From a November 4 item at the Huffington Post, no right-wing rag it (video follows page break; emphases mine):


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- When the storm hit, Philip Ferrante's house was spared. But his neighbors down the street weren't so lucky, so he bought a vanload of supplies with his own money and began driving around.

At an evacuation shelter at a local high school, the staff was made up of a janitor, a few teenagers and a school administrator. "There was no plan," he said. So he began giving people jobs and blasting out help requests on Facebook. "The community was unprepared, and so were the state and the federal government," he said. "Nobody knows what to do and how to do it efficiently."

Ferrante is one of many who have taken the rescue and recovery efforts into their own hands, and he feels that the official response to the storm has been slow and inadequate. On the south shore of Staten Island and in other areas of the borough where the storm has destroyed houses and taken lives, most people seem to share this view.

Official help has arrived in the last couple of days, but many residents say it's not enough and poorly organized. (Ferrante said he recently saw someone from FEMA holding up a map and asking a police officer where the disaster was.) Staten Island is only 20 miles by car from Manhattan, but information about what's happening in this devastated section of New York City has only recently begun to emerge. According to the last official count, at least 19 people have died in Staten Island and hundreds of families are without homes. Seemingly on every block, there are harrowing stories of survival.

As we have noted here at NewsBusters, the media have more than done their part to downplay the problems of post-Sandy cleanup and to boost President Obama for his response.

The impact of the hurricane on Obama's electoral fortunes may not have been preordained, but given the media's bias in favor of the president, their gauzy, even worshipful coverage of his handling of photo-ops and Sandy press conferences was.

Updated (15:00 Eastern): Franke-Ruta responded to a tweet of mine from when I first heard her make the "fester" comment:

 my parents' building was also hard hit. No water, heat, working elevators, & only partial electric back. Still.

Events Hurricane Sandy MSNBC Now with Alex Wagner Video Alex Wagner Garance Franke-Ruta