Monday, September 05, 2005

Well done, Paul...seriously

The BBC's Paul Reynolds' take on the failures surrounding the New Orleans pre- and post- Katrina planning is the best and most reasonable yet to find its way on to the BBC. I am tempted to say it is the only reasonable analysis the BBC has done, but perhaps there is something out there I have not yet seen.

While certainly not letting the federal government off the hook, Reynolds does a good job in pointing out the responsibilities of other officials, including the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor, and the questions that they face as well. For example, pointing out an AP photo of tens of flooded out school buses still lined up in their parking lot, Reynolds wonders "how much city transport was actually used" in the evacuation. Of particular note to me was this line, which seemed to me to be a deliberate (and deserved), if mild, swipe at Reynolds' BBC colleague Matt Wells:
There are questions for the mayor, dubbed heroic by some, to answer.
Wells, you will recall, is the BBC reporter who breathlessly called the mayor "genuinely heroic" as he scathingly ripped into Bush.

With regard to the charges about Bush having slashed federal funds for flood control in New Orleans, Reynolds presents the charges, but also points out that there were no plans for any strengthening of the levees, and that, just as I noted the other day, any such plan would have taken many years to be implemented, and would not have been in place in any event.

Reynolds concludes that, with regard to the problems made evident by Katrina, "It is a long and complex chain of responsibility." That is the single most sensible and reasonable sentence regarding the disaster that has been written at the BBC yet. Let's hope Reynolds gets through to the rest of his overwrought colleagues at the Beeb.


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10:17 PM  
Anonymous Nigel said...

More from our little friend Matt Wells.

I guess BBC's commitment to diversity also extends to the quality of their reporters...


12:31 AM  
Anonymous JohninLondon said...

As yo kmow, we have been having a discussion with Paul Reynolds over at BiasedBBC these past couple of dys, pointing out the complete absence of any statements by BBC reporters that the Mayor and the Governor take prime responsibility for organising evacuation and relief, and that the Fed assistance comes in later.

Nothing Mr Reynolds wrote could not have been read in the posts and links at the Biased BBC site, or probably here. Per contra, it would have been impossible to construct his article from the BBC website or their broadcast reports.

That is the depth and severity of BBC ignorance and bias.

2:35 AM  
Anonymous tired & excitable said...

Um, not quite. Frei/Wells/Webb are well past "ignorance and bias." Reynolds, in his lazy-assed disco-boy way, just cobbles together other folks' stuff.

But nothing happens.

7:36 AM  
Blogger BZC said...

If Reynolds should happen to drop by I'd like to know why the BBC provided not a single mention of this story:

Considering how much they love focusing on that area of the world, it's rather surprising.

And seriously, if it was a bunch of Jewish Israelis attacking a Christian village would they have avoided mentioning it at all. Something tells me that they wouldn't.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Well done, Scott! I believe that by engaging Paul, and having a real argument instead of hurling abuse, you have re-awakened some of the questioning thinking that surely impelled him to take up journalism in the first place. A small but significant victory.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Scott, thought you'd like to know that I answered one question Paul raised in his article.

"The question has to be asked: Why was it not ordered earlier?

The Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said at the same news conference that President Bush had called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation.

The night before, National Hurricane Director Max Mayfield had called Mayor Nagin to tell him that an evacuation was needed. Why were these calls necessary? "

Sadly, the answer is that, while the storm gained strength to CAT 5, the mayor was unprepared to order a mandatory evacuation. Uprepared because he had not read his own disaster plan and was unaware that he had the authority to order the evacuation.

As a result he was afraid of a lawsuit by businesses that stood to lose money if he ordered the evacuation.

"Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses."

Nagin already had that authority delegated to him by the governor and would therefore not be liable.

Is there any doubt that big business put pressure on the mayor to wait till the last minute?

Even though the governor delegated Nagin the authority, she could not delegate the responsibilty to ensure the mandatory evacuation was ordered. That responsibility rests with the governor. You can delegate authority but you can't delegate responsibility.

I have the pertinent links on my post here:

12:38 PM  

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