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 NewsBusters.org.