As Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco prepares for testimony on Capitol Hill tomorrow, some credit should go to CBS for reporting on surfacing documents that show Blanco "in an embarrassing light." It’s a little balance after the FEMA-pounding Olympics at the time. MRC's Mike Rule found that Bob Orr reported:
"As New Orleans was drowning, the staff of Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco feverishly tried to avoid a public relations disaster. New e-mails just released by Republican congressional investigators show the governor's staff worked to portray her as hands on, in control, and a working executive.
"Please put Governor Blanco in casual clothes, a baseball cap, etc," reads one of the emails from a political consultant. "She needs to visit a shelter in prime time and talk tough, but hug on some folks and be sensitive."
Another memo from the Governor's policy director read, "She would look like a woman, but show she is moving mountains." State officials also worried about losing control to the federal government. An influential black staffer warned FEMA was sending too many black evacuees out of Louisiana, "word is already," he wrote, "that we are only sending blacks out of this state."
And, even as the crisis was still unfolding, Blanco's staff seemed to sense that embattled FEMA Director Mike Brown would be the primary lightening rod for blame. "The White House spin is that this is the state and locals fault," wrote the Chief of Staff, "but the good news is it doesn't appear that many are buying it." It's not clear Blanco ever saw or responded to these e-mails. Unlike Brown, who did get personally caught up in FEMA's internal email discussion about his dress during the crisis.
"You look fabulous," a FEMA staffer wrote. Brown responded "I got it at Nordstrom’s." Later, as evacuees huddled inside the superdome, Brown fired off another email "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god." Brown resigned in disgrace, now some Republicans in Congress want to make sure that Democratic leaders, like Governor Blanco, also share in the blame. She'll testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday."
Rene Syler appended the story: "Governor Blanco's spokeswoman says the emails were just a few of nearly 100,000 documents that were made public."