Katrina Media Blackout
This is alarming. From Josh Marshall:
At first the evidence was scattered
and anecdotal. But now it's pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush
administration's takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press
access to report the story.
Perhaps there could be guidelines about photographs which in any way
clearly identified the deceased. No one wants to get first confirmation
of the death of a loved one by seeing their body on the nightly news.
But a blanket ban serves only to prevent the public from knowing what
really happened last week. And the right of FEMA or any branch of the
federal government for that matter to issue such a ban on American soil
seems highly dubious to me. It's one thing with military casualties:
the military operates under its own legal code and not under normal
civilian rules. But this is happening on American soil. This isn't a
war zone. Nor is it any longer a situation where police or National
Guard troops are in the midst of retaking control from mobs or looters.
This is a recovery from a natural disaster.
Now comes this post from Brian Williams, which suggests a general effort to bar reporters from access to many of the key points in the city.
Take a moment to note what's happening here: these are the marks of
repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism.
The crew that couldn't get key aid on the scene in time last week is
coming in in force now. And one of the key missions appears to be
cutting off public information about what's happening in the city.
This is a domestic, natural disaster. Absent specific cases
where members of the press would interfere or get in the way of some
particular clean up operation, or perhaps demolition work, there is
simply no reason why credentialed members of the press should not be
able to cover everything that is happening in that city.
Think about it.