Newsweek falsely suggested Blanco was slow in declaring state of emergency; hasn't corrected error

Like The Washington Post, Newsweek incorrectly reported in its September 12 issue that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was slow to declare a state of emergency in the state, purportedly delaying federal assistance in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In fact, Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26, before Katrina made landfall. But while the Post has corrected its false reporting, Newsweek has not yet done so -- despite the fact that the magazine has already corrected another error in the same article.

From the September 12 issue of Newsweek:

By Thursday [September 1], New Orleans was on the verge of anarchy. Policemen, many of whom had lost their homes, were turning in their badges rather than face the looters for another day. Jail inmates were moved out of town, but their criminal records are underwater. Sorting out who has been charged and with which crime could be a nightmare. Shoplifters might be incarcerated with rapists, and the system might be compelled to let some suspects go free.


Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco seemed uncertain and sluggish, hesitant to declare martial law or a state of emergency, which would have opened the door to more Pentagon help.

Newsweek, meanwhile, has corrected a different mistake in the same article. An editor's note at the end of the article states: “The original version of this report incorrectly stated that Air Force One flew over the disaster area on Tuesday. In fact, President Bush first saw the scene on Wednesday, Aug. 31.”

But the magazine has not yet corrected its claim that Blanco had not declared a state of emergency by September 1 -- a false implication that, based on the Post's article, seems to be a key part of the Bush administration's attempts to shift blame for inadequate response to Katrina to state and local officials.

The Post and Newsweek are both owned by The Washington Post Co.