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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

You may not be a "Dhrutharashtra", but we want to be the Sanjaya for you!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Katrina's Toll: Truth and Accuracy

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina many if not most American media organizations grossly overstated the atrocities and violence in New Orleans.

About a month after these reports, now it is being reported that what were once reported as facts were actually unsubstantiated rumors.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the local newspaper of New Orleans had this to say:

"Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened."

The L.A.Times now says "Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy". You can read it here.

Mr.Bhat also wrote about Katrina, specifically how Katrina uncovered the "selfish", "evil", "cold hearted", "inhumane" and "racially divided" American society for the world to see. In addition he also wrote about how woefully inadequate America and American government were in their abilities to handle a storm like Katrina; especially when compared with the recent floods in Mumbai.

As proof for the the barbaric nature of American society, Mr.Bhat wrote about "American whites" who were engaging in "rapes" and "atrocities" against the "African Americans" who were trying "just to survive".

There are no reports to indicate that there were any racial elements in the widely reported violence and atrocities in the immediate aftermath of Katrina; specifically there were no reports that said that whites were targeting African Americans.

As an example of lack of preparation on the part of the Bush Administration to handle Katrina, Mr.Bhat writes that America had to "bring in thousands of doctors from inconsequential countries like Cuba and Venezuela".

This again is untrue.

While it's true that Cuba offered the service of thousands of doctors, US did not respond to that offer.

In his article, Mr.Bhat writes about incidents where coast-guard helicopters that were trying to rescue flood victims came under gun fire. Such incidents were reported during the "live" coverage of the storm. Both by American media as well as others. Now, Knight Ridder says that there is "no evidence" to "backup reports of rescue helicopters being fired upon". Specifially it says:

Two Coast Guard spokesmen who were asked in recent days about helicopter shootings said there were no incidents of any Coast Guard personnel or vehicles taking fire.

"We don't know of any shots ever fired directly at us," said Capt. Bob Mueller, commander of the Guard's New Orleans station.

(Note: The same report says that "a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security - which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency - contradicted that statement, saying Superdome flights were temporarily suspended because of gunfire.")


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