May 11, 2011

IBD Calls Out ‘Media Malpractice’ in Mississippi Flooding Coverage

Just barely a year after it derided the establishment media’s obsession over oil-affected birds in the Gulf of Mexico while virtually ignoring the loss human life in awful floods in Tennessee (noted at the time at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Investors Business Daily’s editorialists are calling out the press for oversaturating us with Obama-OBL victory lap coverage at the expense of informing the nation about the severity of this year’s horrible Mississippi River flooding.

IBD makes great points in the following excerpts (bolds are mine):

In a record year for natural disasters, the Mississippi’s worst flooding since 1927 may be the year’s most consequential. It ought to lead the news. But the Beltway media-political complex is more interested in press games.

… to be fair, it’s not because the local press in affected areas haven’t done decent reporting.

The problem lies in Washington. The White House has made no declarations, showed no leadership, and done all it can to keep the issue off the front page.

It has quietly declared disaster areas in parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, but not even issued a statement of support for the 4,000 families in this storied region of American literary and musical traditions who have lost their homes.

Nor, apparently, did Obama even look out his Air Force One window to see the devastation below as he flew to Texas to raise campaign funds.

Instead, we see the old Washington power game played out between White House operatives and the press: the steady drip, drip, drip of little details about the SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden.

This keeps that Obama-centered story on the front page — and the biggest flooding in a century, off.

… The flooding provides the White House with no political advantage. If anything, it shows that despite $787 billion in federal stimulus, the U.S. flood control system remains archaic. During Hurricane Katrina, that was a big issue. During this Mississippi crisis, it’s not.

… a flood of this magnitude ought to be an occasion for White House leadership, because most certainly the last one was: “The 1927 event flooded almost 1% of the entire United States and absolutely riveted the nation’s attention, probably even more so than (Hurricane) Katrina,” said John M. Barry, author of “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood And How It Changed America” in an interview with NPR.

For some reason, this one doesn’t.

Other portions of the IBD editorial point to potentially serious economic impacts resulting from the floods, including threats to two oil refineries, just in time for summer driving season. That’s when the press will take notice of the disaster — when they’re looking for ready-made reasons why the price of gas has reached record levels, and why the economy continues to seriously underperform both current expectations and the Reagan post-recession boom years.

I should also note that Democratic Party icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the time in 1937 to fly over the devastated Ohio River valley during its unprecedented flooding, in an era when such excursions were much more logistically difficult. According to the liner notes for “The Thousand Year Flood,” he also “dispatched thousands of relief workers.” Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, when asked if there were “any plans for the President to take a closer look at the impact of the flooding,” that he didn’t “have any scheduling updates.”

Cross-posted at



  1. It’s particularly shocking because you would think the media would be all over this so they could blame it all on global warming.

    My guess for reasons why they are not are because

    1. As the IBD essay points out, it does no good for the WH and for the reason IBD cites and more.

    2. They would have to probably mention 1927′s flooding and thus admit such a disaster is not “unprecedented” (one of the GW alarmists favorite term.)

    3. They would have to highlight how crappily Obama is handling all of this.

    And all that outweighs any of the gain they could get by pushing the GW agenda.

    P.S. I think IBD and others should really wait until everything settles and we can make a truly sober and comprehensive survey of the damage and lives lost before throwing phrases like “biggest flooding in a century” out there. Let’s not give the GW crowd any fodder that we don’t have to. Besides, even if it does turn out to be the worst flooding in a century, it’s because of the higher number of populations who live in high flood plains and the like and our archaic flood control system (which as long as it’s maintained by government will never be great no matter how much money is thrown at it) and not due to any “warming.”

    Comment by zf — May 12, 2011 @ 1:56 am

  2. I second zf’s comments. But along with this issue there are two others that come to mind:

    1. The Katrina disaster was ALL about New Orleans. The hurricane actually did serious damage to Alabama and Mississippi, but most people probably don’t know that because New Orleans created the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime visual-based human interest stories… a journalists dream. And, of course,

    2. The Dems and their media allies – with the vital assistance of the supporting lies and exagerations of the unbearable Shepard Smith at FOX News – could easily shape the narrative of GWB administration incompetence and, most importantly, racism.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves. We now have 2+ years of the Obama administration. It’s focus is not on policy, program and operational competence. It’s all about promoting opportunities for partisan point scoring and producing campaign ready sound bites.

    It’s clear this administration sees the disaster situation now arising as too risky – that they are more likely to display incompetence with little or no partisan political payoff – to assume a publicly visible lead role in the response.

    After all we are talking about the South. Where is Obama’s political constituency to “protect” there?

    Comment by boqueronman — May 12, 2011 @ 11:52 am

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