Pro-Hillary Clinton news site fills a media need, but misses the mark
OPINION | Bill O'Reilly: Harvey, Sandy, Katrina — A tale of three superstorms
In every ongoing major news story there are "arcs" that the media develops to frame what is happening. These story lines make it easier for news organizations to spin various theories to their readers or listeners. It's a clever way to supplement hard news coverage.
Back in late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans with a stunning ferocity. Levees that held back the Mississippi River were breached and a catastrophe developed, leading to 1,836 deaths and more than $100 billion in property damage from the storm.
President George W. Bush did not publicly show a sense of urgency even as pictures of the Katrina disaster were shocking Americans. Thus, President Bush became a target of the press as the vicious hurricane became politicized.
The media also latched onto the racial angle. A city populated by many poor African Americans, New Orleans was unable to help folks trapped in the low-lying wards. Many displaced persons eventually found shelter in the Superdome but that situation quickly collapsed into violence and anarchy. Authorities in Louisiana were overwhelmed, leading to media charges that blacks were intentionally harmed by a system that does not care about them.
The images of Katrina did great harm to America.
Then, in 2012, Superstorm Sandy blasted the Northeast coast, including the center of media power: New York City. I and many other members of the press were directly affected by infrastructure damage, and the mood was dark. The storm flooded parts of Manhattan, devastated the Jersey Shore as well as parts of Long Island, and racked up $73 billion in overall damage; 233 people died, directly or indirectly, from Sandy.
President Obama, learning from the Bush situation, got on the ground fast, strolling a beach with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a rather bizarre photo op.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, refused to play the political game and even asked President Obama not to come to the city because he would distract from clean-up efforts. The president honored the mayor's request.
The press generally loves Barack Obama, so the political angle concerning Sandy was played down. With cocktails and expense account lunches disrupted, the New York-based media chieftains generally concentrated on video of destruction and kept a close eye on the status of their vacation homes in the Hamptons.
With the arrival of Hurricane Harvey late last month, storm politics came roaring back. The primary story was unprecedented flooding but that was too mundane for the activist national media that has ramped up "point of view" news coverage since Donald Trump became president.
While hard-working correspondents told stories of rescue and heartbreak, mostly left-wing commentators went to town on President Trump from their dry, air-conditioned studios.
Even though the president and First Lady Melania Trump visited East Texas quickly, the hate-Trump brigade criticized his lack of "empathy" and, in their eyes, his concern only for his supporters.
Also, incredibly, the brigades opened fire on Mrs. Trump's shoes. Apparently, the heels were too high to tour a flood zone or something.
Thus, in many cases, the coverage of Harvey descended into the bizarre. At one point, CNN morning guy Chris Cuomo began hectoring Kellyanne Conway about climate change - Mr. Cuomo seemingly convinced the epic flooding was tied into global warming.
Ms. Conway deftly shot back that the debate over acts of nature could wait a few days until people up to their chests in flood water might be helped.
Interesting TV moment.
The non-stop Harvey coverage on cable quickly devolved into whatever anti-Trump angle could be found. Half-heartedly, some pundits on Fox tried to defend the president but they looked exhausted.
Lost in the political "arc" is the fact that Texas authorities and the feds performed much better fighting Harvey than the system did with Katrina and Sandy. That's a pretty big story, if you ask me.
But don't count on much press analysis of the storm-response improvement. With Donald Trump now the primary person in charge of the country, positive stories of government performance don't really fit into the media agenda.
Bill O'Reilly hosts a daily podcast on BillO'Reilly.com. His new book, "Killing England" will be released on September 19. He is also the former host of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @billoreilly.
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