Thursday, September 15, 2005

Media Coverage Of President Bush's Katrina Speech

I made a point to surf the major news channels after President Bush's speech tonight. I found the variety of the reactions to be interesting, if not surprising.

ABC: They had a panel of a handful of citizens outside the Astrodome. As one might expect the responses they got were somewhat random. It was an interesting approach, but not one that I typically find particularly compelling.

(Update: I thought I'd point out that it seems I was switching channels too rapidly in an effort to get the "first reaction" from each channel. Polipundit has a round-up of the blogosphere's reaction to the comments, which were apparently--and surprisingly--pro-Bush.)

CBS: CSI, maybe the season premiere. I'll at least give them credit for not hiding their priorities.

NBC: Brian Williams was repeating the phone numbers and internet addresses that President Bush had given during the speech. Specific focus was given to helping families locate missing people. I'd have to say that this was probably the most useful of the media responses.

FoxNews: In a never ending effort to be "Fair and Balanced", FoxNews had a panel of editorial writers, presumably covering the spectrum from liberal to conservative. The most noteworthy comment was that both sides described the rebuilding portion of the speech as "if they were listening to LBJ."

CNN: Through a number of interviews was focusing solely on the "who is to blame?" angle and ignoring the rest of the speech. I suppose like CBS I should give them credit for not hiding their priorities.

MSNBC: They conducted an interview with Louisiana Lt. Governor Landrieu. Landrieu was echoing part of the speech, saying that great care had to be taken to ensure that rebuilding money didn't get wasted via fraud and political corruption.

Personally I think the biggest story will be how the rest of the country reacts to the rather ambitious rebuilding efforts that President Bush outlined in the speech. There was no mention of considering any other avenues other than rebuilding New Orleans with better hurricane and flood protection. He also spoke of using a variety of government programs to "break the cycle of poverty" in the region. Both of these goals were easy to get behind emotionally, but the cost of each will be enormous. It will be interesting to see how long the population as a whole will remain supportive of the efforts, no matter the cost.

As for the speech itself, it was fairly typical Bush fare. It was well-written, even eloquent in places. It made less than subtle references to the importance of religion to the health of the country. It was delivered sincerely by Bush with the usual number of stumblings and mutterings one has come to expect. As typical for such a speech, I doubt it will change the mind of either Bush supporters or the get-Bush-at-all-costs camp, but such is the nature of politics.

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