CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday afternoon repeatedly prodded reluctant Congressional Black Caucus member Elijah Cummings to blame racism for delays in rescuing hurricane victims in New Orleans. Blitzer asked Cummings on The Situation Room: “Do you believe, if it was, in fact, a slow response, as many now believe it was, was it in part the result of racism?” When Cummings demurred from such a blanket accusation, Blitzer wouldn’t give up: “There are some critics who are saying, and I don't know if you're among those, but people have said to me, had this happened in a predominantly white community, the federal government would have responded much more quickly. Do you believe that?"

Later, on CNN’s NewsNight, Aaron Brown took up the same agenda with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones: “What I'm wondering is, do you think black America's sitting there thinking, if these were middle class white people, there would be cruise ships in New Orleans?” When she wouldn’t take the bait, Brown lectured: “Now, look, here's the question, okay? And then we'll end this. Do you think the reason that they're not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren't there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, isn't there, is a matter of race and/or class?”

Opening the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams predicted that the "catastrophic hurricane strike, and the U.S. government response to it, will in the years or decades to come, perhaps necessitate a national discussion on race, on oil, politics, class, infrastructure, the environment and more.” ABC’s Ted Koppel charged on Nightline that “the slow response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina has led to questions about race, poverty and a seemingly indifferent government.”

Transcripts follow.



Today during CNN's "Situation Room," anchor Jack Cafferty suspected the Bush administration had turned the timing of the help sent to New Orleans into a political stunt.

CAFFERTY: Do you suppose, Wolf, that the arrival of the relief convoys and the political photo ops on the Gulf Coast happening at the very same time were a coincidence today?
BLITZER: Well, I'm sure our viewers have some thoughts on that as well.



From CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Thursday, September 1, 2005, covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: (audiotape on file, emphasis mine)

BLITZER: "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, as Jack Cafferty just pointed out, so tragically, so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold."



Two days after CNN's Jack Cafferty demanded to know, as detailed in a Tuesday NewsBusters item, “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”and snidely suggested that “based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea,” on Thursday's Situation Room Cafferty took off after Bush again. At about 3:30pm EDT during his “Cafferty File” segment, he suddenly found the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader very wise and quoted approvingly from their Wednesday editorial: “'A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource....The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months following 9/11, has vanished.'” He piled on with how a New York Times editorial excoriated Bush “for 'appearing casual to the point of carelessness.'”

Cafferty soon launched a rant: “I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in that Superdome down there? I mean, what is, this is Thursday. This is Thursday. This storm happened five days ago. It's a disgrace.”

Cafferty ignored a Thursday Union Leader editorial which castigated Louisiana's Governor, Kathleen Blanco: “Louisiana Gov’t Fails Its People.”

Video: Real or Windows Media. Full transcript follows.



In the 5pm EDT half hour of CNN's The Situation Room today, Jack Cafferty used the hurricane as an excuse to trash President Bush for being on vacation, as if the location of Bush, who already authorized federal action, has any impact on that federal response to the devastation. Cafferty asked host Wolf Blitzer: “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”Blitzer answered that “he's cut short his vacation. He's coming back to Washington tomorrow.” Cafferty snidely contended: “Well, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego, I think, at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea.”

Full transcript of the exchange, between Cafferty in Manhattan and Blitzer in Washington, DC, follows.



Yesterday CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tried to get Bill Clinton to answer whether or not entering Iraq was a “mistake.”

BLITZER: So I assume that the answer is, yes, the war was a mistake. Is that your answer?