Fox hosts and Karl Rove: Local officials “deserved almost all the blame” for Katrina response

With Hurricane Dorian set to bear down on the Southeastern region, Fox News promoted an important message Wednesday morning: Any failures of disaster response are not President Donald Trump’s fault — they’re on the local authorities, instead.

Karl Rove, who served as senior policy adviser and deputy chief of staff under President George W. Bush during Hurricane Katrina, appeared on Fox & Friends, where he and co-host Brian Kilmeade played a preemptive defense for the Trump administration. Both Rove and Kilmeade declared that even back in 2005, it was the state and local officials who deserved the blame for the failures during Hurricane Katrina, and they decried the idea that people today might hang any potential problems in response to Dorian onto Trump.

Hurricane Katrina was a pivotal moment in the political arc of the Bush presidency, with failures at both the federal and local levels causing a plunge in Bush's approval rating. Indeed, commentators on the right have tried ever since to rewrite the perceptions of what happened, or sought to frame some moment during the Obama years as “Obama's Katrina.” (Plus, there are the people out there who seem to think that Barack Obama was responsible for the problems during Katrina relief efforts — even though he wasn’t president yet.)

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Citation From the September 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Right now, Hurricane Dorian is churning past the Florida coast. It's threatening to hit the Carolinas.

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): It's a dangerous situation. Our next guest is all too familiar with it, too, serving in the Bush administration when Katrina struck.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Joining us right now is former White House deputy chief of staff and Fox News contributor Karl Rove, who joins us today from Austin. Karl, good morning to you. 

KARL ROVE: Good morning.

DOOCY: You've thought about this, and you have four points about lessons learned from Katrina, right? 

ROVE: Yeah. Well, first of all, it's important to remember, most people think when we have a big national disaster like this hurricane, that Washington is in charge, that the federal government is in charge of preparedness and response. That's not true. The federal involvement in this is governed by a law passed in 1968, called the Stafford Act. And what is says is, the people who are in charge in natural disasters like this are the governors of the respective, affected states. And they're in charge. So they have to have a plan. And any — particularly in states that are contiguous to water, you have to — major cities have to have plans to deal with hurricanes. So, the first point is, is that every state has a plan, and the governors need to execute that plan. 

KILMEADE: We know that — we know Washington wasn't perfect. The Bush administration wasn't perfect under Katrina. But we know local deserved almost all the blame for Katrina. But yet — but ultimately, you know Karl, if you're in the White House today, you're going to take the blame. 

ROVE: Yeah.

KILMEADE: If something goes awry with any of these cities, and any of these towns, they're going to say, “That's Donald Trump's fault.” And that's why he's got to be hands-on. 

ROVE. Yeah. And well, and that's why FEMA — the FEMA and Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel are holding the hands of these governors and their emergency people, all the way up to the coastline from Florida all the way up.