Carlson falsely claimed Bush administration "hasn't been blaming mayors and governors" for poor Katrina response

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

MSNBC host Tucker Carlson declared that "as far as I know, the [Bush] administration hasn't been blaming mayors and governors" for the government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, the White House's strategy of shifting blame to Louisiana officials for the poor response to Katrina has been well documented.

On the August 29 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson declared that "as far as I know, the [Bush] administration hasn't been blaming mayors and governors" for the government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted (here, here, and here), the White House's strategy of shifting blame to Louisiana officials for the poor response to Katrina has been well documented.

For example, the administration's offensive against Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) began soon after it became apparent that the overall response to the disaster had been ineffective. On September 4, 2005, The Washington Post uncritically quoted a "senior Bush official" who falsely claimed that as of September 3, 2005, Blanco had not yet declared a state of emergency. In fact, Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26, 2005 -- well before the hurricane made landfall. On December 5, 2005, the Post reported that Blanco's communications director, Bob Mann, wrote an internal memo on September 1, 2005, to Blanco's executive counsel, Terry Ryder, warning that the Bush administration was "actively working to make us the scapegoats."

On September 27, 2005, 15 days after resigning, former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael D. Brown falsely asserted in congressional testimony that Bush's August 27, 2005, declaration of emergency for Louisiana did not include Orleans, Jefferson, and Plaquemines parishes -- encompassing the city of New Orleans and vicinity -- because Blanco had omitted those parishes from her request earlier that day. In fact, Blanco requested a federal declaration of emergency "in all southeastern parishes," which clearly included the three parishes in question, as the weblog Think Progress noted at the time. Brown also testified that "[m]y biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday [August 27] that Louisiana was dysfunctional," later adding: "My mistake was in [not] recognizing that, for whatever reasons, ... Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco were reticent to order a mandatory evacuation."

In addition, numerous media outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, documented the White House's public-relations strategy of deflecting blame onto Louisiana officials. Just days after the hurricane hit, a September 5, 2005, Times article by Adam Nagourney and Anne E. Kornblut reported that the Bush administration "sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan." A Post article published the same day reported the administration's attempt to "undo what many Republicans described as considerable damage to the White House inflicted by Bush's crisis management":

In public statements and even more bluntly behind the scenes, Bush administration officials have questioned local efforts to rescue thousands of people who were stranded for days without food, water and shelter, resulting in death of an unknown number of Americans.

From the August 29 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

REV. AL SHARPTON: But I think the president sets a national tone, he failed to do it. That's why a lot of the blame went there. Do I think [New Orleans Mayor C. Ray] Nagin has some blame? Yes. And I think even he has said that. The governor [Kathleen Babineaux Blanco] does. But the president cannot in one level say, "I am the leader of the country," and in another level, "Blame mayors and governors equal to me." You can't have it both ways, Tucker.

CARLSON: Well, he actually -- as far as I know, the administration hasn't been blaming mayors and governors. I have been. They have not. I think they're weak and cowardly in a lot of ways and that they won't say what's true because they don't want to be criticized. I haven't heard Bush say that.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Tucker Carlson
Show/Publication
Tucker
Stories/Interests
Hurricane Katrina, Natural Disasters
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