As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina slamming New Orleans nears, the folks at NBC offered viewers a "Meet the Press" special edition with a sadly predictable conclusion: the disaster was all George W. Bush and the federal government's fault.
The New Orleans mayor at the time was almost entirely ignored in this hour-long examination. The only mention of the state's former governor was actually one of praise.
Rather than offering one new compelling insight into the natural disaster that changed America, the invited guests all fed fill-in host Brian Williams the same old tired lines about racism and classism; despite numerous opportunities to delve into the decades of political corruption in the region that left the levees surrounding New Orleans in a dreadful state of disrepair, the subject was never broached.
Instead, what ensued - given all the time and resources available to really do a groundbreaking exposé on this issue - was something all those involved should be tremendously embarrassed for.
At the top of the segment, anchor Jeff Glor cited the latest CBS News poll showing that only 38% of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the spill and wondered if "the oil spill defines the President's legacy?" Brinkley replied: "I have no doubt that he spends every hour micro-studying what's going on in the Gulf, but part of leadership is to get on the back of the flatbed Ford and rally the country with the speech." He explained how Obama "...wanted to farm it out. It was B.P.'s problem." But warned: "You don't want to be Jimmy Carter, holed up in the White House during the Iran hostage crisis."
Brinkley went on to hope that "...future generations will say...the Obama administration marshaled the strength of the American people and did the greatest environmental cleanup the world has ever seen." He proclaimed: "This is a turning point in history. The urban president from Chicago is going to have to become the environmental president of the moment."
Cooper brought on CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley for a panel discussion on the environmental disaster 25 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. The anchor included his apologetic of the early response by the administration in his first question to Gergen: "David, I mean, a month ago, it seemed like the federal government was on top of this. They were beating back claims by conservatives that this was Obama's Katrina, and now, it seems that may have been premature."
While concluding a segment on racism involved in anti-Obama protests, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews promoted the book of one of his guests, liberal historian Douglas Brinkley, and proceeded to rant: "There’s so much right-wing crap on the best seller list these days. It’s great to see a book that you might want to put on your shelf and let your respected friends see you actually reading."
Brinkley’s book, Teddy Roosevelt: The Wilderness Warrior, did make the New York Times best seller list, coming in at twenty one. However, the list’s top ten was dominated by "right-wing crap." Michelle Malkin’s Culture of Corruption, takes the top spot. Bill O’Reilly’s A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity comes in at number six, with Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny at number seven. Dick Morris’s Castrophe earned a number eight ranking.
Matthews made a point of saying to Brinkley: "It’s great to see one book on the best seller list that’s worth reading these days. And yours is." Apparently readers seem to think conservative literature is worth reading a little more.
Near the end of the 12 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, anchor Tony Harris asked the liberal presidential historian and CBS commentator, “You hear...about some of the failings in the senator’s life, and what is it about us as people that- on a day like today- a day like yesterday, we are willing to, in many cases, look past some of those failings, and focus in on the positive arc of a person’s life?” Brinkley played up Kennedy’s Catholic background, and instead using the “martyr” term he used on Wednesday, used more general religious language in his answer:
During the 2:00AM ET hour of CBS’s Up to the Minute on Wednesday, shortly after news broke of Senator Ted Kenney’s death, historian Douglas Brinkley exclaimed the Massachusetts Democrat was: "...going to be a – a martyr because of all that he’s done and he very well might help, in death, Obama get his health care plan."
Fill-in anchor Michelle Gielan discussed Kennedy’s legacy with Brinkley, soon turning to the current debate over health care reform: "And one of those causes that he was championing was health care reform, and yet, he had to sit out these last few months. How difficult was that for him?" Brinkley began his response: "Well, it was very difficult for him....he’s been forced to be sidelined and unable to talk at town hall meetings. It’s been hard not to watch the nightly news and kind of wish that you had a fiery old Ted Kennedy there, arguing his points for universal health care, it could have made a difference."
USA Today's Chuck Raasch has decided that President Obama is a "transformational American leader abroad" and that his America Stinks tour of Europe is a "confirming stamp of that new reality." This effluvia of over indulgent praise heaped on Obama is ubiquitous in the media, we all know, but what makes Raasch's piece egregious is the assumption of historical "truth" that posits that Obama has already succeeded as president even though he's only been in office a few short months. Raash states as fact that Obama has "transformed" America's image with this one tour and that all sorts of new and better relations have followed.
But, the main problem with Raasch's sycophancy is that "followed" hasn't even arrived yet. In fact, Raasch writes this article before Obama's trip abroad is fairly done. It is idiotic to say what "has" come of it all before the president has even set his feet back on American soil. And this is a key problem with all these fake assessments of the "success" of Obama's presidency. There hasn't BEEN any "success" because history has yet to see the outcome of anything he's done thus far.
But this doesn't stop the slobbering Obama love affair that mediots like Raasch wallow in. It all amounts to little else but propaganda as opposed to serious analysis -- serious prOpaganda, if you will.
During live coverage of President Bush leaving on the presidential helicopter immediately following the swearing in of Barack Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric got reaction from liberal historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "Keep in mind, a lot of Americans are thinking it's pretty cool that he's leaving, too. A lot of Americans didn't take him as the real president after the Gore election in 2000. He's been very controversial. And a lot of people voted to get rid of Bush policies. So, and for some people are cheering the helicopter leaving, because they felt stuck for eight years." Couric agreed: "Right. Some people cheer in support, and some people, as Doug said, cheer because he's getting out of town."
Later, Couric asked Brinkley about Bush’s farewell press conference, particularly about the president’s defense of his response to Hurricane Katrina: "Doug Brinkley, you wrote a book all about Katrina and I was just curious to get your reaction to how the president assessed his performance vis-a-vis that disaster in that last news conference." Brinkley went on a left-wing rant:
He created a fairy tale for himself. Everybody knows the Bush Administration did not do a good job during Katrina. In fact, August, 2005, is the turning point. Even the national media -- which had been intimidated by the Rove White House for a while -- they changed. I was in New Orleans for the storm and the media was so angry at the seemingly lackadaisical response of the federal government and then the fact that the President of the United States did a flyover, didn't put his boot heels on the ground in Louisiana or Mississippi, didn't touch the flood waters. Many people I talked to remembered Hurricane Betsy in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson went there in the dead of night with a flashlight in his face saying 'this is your president.' Our president was AWOL during Katrina and it's, I think, probably going to be one of the hardest parts of his legacy to somehow fix by writing it -- changing it in a memoir or something.
During live coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration at 9:30AM on Tuesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "And it reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt in March of 1933 in this regard, I mean the economy was in tatters, Herbert Hoover was an unpopular president, President Bush is not very popular, and he was able to galvanize people with his speech, FDR, move the nation, you know to have nothing -- you know, to fight for all of the civil rights and to start pushing forward the hundred days of the New Deal. And so you see the echoes of that." On the January 11 Sunday Morning program, Brinkley declared Bush in the "...the very bottom-rung of American Presidents."
Brinkley’s comment was prompted by Couric remarking: "...a confluence of events that will make him perhaps one of the most powerful presidents in history. It's hard to predict an administration and how successful it will be, but he really is starting off things in an enviable position, isn't he?" Later, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on that point: "But the interesting thing, Katie, is when we stop and think about it, our greatest presidents have always come to us during the worst of times. If history's any guide, the pieces are in place here for the making of a great president." On Monday’s Early Show, Schieffer compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Thalia Assuras examined President Bush’s historical legacy: "On January 20th, 2001, George Walker Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States. His presidency and the future, a blank slate...Before the Iraq war. Before Katrina swept ashore. Before the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Assuras cited two historians in her report, both of whom labeled Bush one of the nation’s worst presidents. She first turned to historian Douglas Brinkley, who declared: "I think it's safe to say that President Bush is going to be seen as the very bottom-rung of American presidents...As a judicial historian looking at what's occurred on his watch, it is almost void of genuine accomplishment." The other historian Assuras included in her report was Joseph Ellis, who said of Bush: "I think that George Bush might very well be the worst president in American history...He's unusual. Most two-term presidents have a mixed record...Bush has nothing on the positive side, virtually nothing."
Following these Bush-bashing historical assessments, Assuras exclaimed: "And that's not a minority opinion. In a 2006 Siena College survey of 744 history professors, 82 percent rated President Bush below average or a failure. Last April, in an informal poll by George Mason University of 109 historians, Mr. Bush fared even worse; 98 percent considered him a failed president. Sixty-one percent judged him, as Ellis does, one of the worst in American history."
Before the networks had even declared Barack Obama the winner Tuesday night, CBS historian Douglas Brinkley announced that the “Age of Ronald Reagan” was “coming to an end tonight.” Shortly before 11pm EST, Brinkley told anchor Katie Couric: “We're looking at a historic victory for the Democrats and Barack Obama. I think you have to go back to 1964 when Lyndon Johnson had such a landslide over Barry Goldwater to see how momentous this is.”
In a Tuesday night piece wrapping up yesterday’s election, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh sought out liberal historian Robert Dallek, who similarly declared that Obama’s win “is probably going to mark the end of the Reagan era — this whole conservative impulse that has dominated the country's politics for the last generation....I think you're going to see a whole new era of federal progressive activism.”
Maybe, maybe not.
Meanwhile, on CNN between Bush's address and the Democratic response, Jeffrey Toobin used Bush to condemn all the Republican candidates for lacking “humanity” in their approach to immigration. The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to this from Toobin at 10:12 PM EST: