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Naw’lins blues

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BETTER FOCUS: Real victims.
  • BETTER FOCUS: Real victims.
While I’m prone to take my frustrations out on the homely, misshapen and slightly hunchbacked editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, every once in awhile, their news side pops a boner that can’t be ignored. Yes, I meant that in every vulgar way possible. So, all you D-G reporters, stop what you’re doing and gather round. Yes, you guys over there by the water cooler. No, not you, Amy Schlesing. You went to Iraq, for chris’sakes. Here’s some money for a latte. Take the afternoon off. Everybody else, push in close so you can hear. Let me direct your attention to the Friday, Sept. 2, paper, page 12A: “Sugar heir who fled New Orleans confronts uncertainty in LR.” The story, in case you’re wondering, was about hurricane refugees Leon “Pee-Wee” Godchaux — an heir to the Godchaux sugar fortune and former president of Godchaux Sugars Inc. — and his wife, Marion, who have sought lodging with a relative in Little Rock after being driven from their New Orleans condo by rising floodwaters. As the D-G helpfully pointed out in their 550-word story, these are GODCHAUX Godchauxs, so rich and old-line Naw’lins that their family has a dish named in their honor at the famed French Quarter restaurant Galatoire’s. Now, don’t get me wrong. These folks have been forced to flee their home, and are probably feeling a lot of the same things as your average, no-count, sleeping-in-urine-at-the-Superdome evacuee. God bless ’em. But here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure that as soon as ol’ Pee-Wee and Marion catch a nap and get a call in to their broker, they’re GOING TO LAND ON THEIR FRIGGIN’ FEET, OK? I know some of the folks at the D-G never met a quasi-celebrity they wouldn’t cheerfully act as a human footstool for (I’m talking to you, Mike Storey), but in the middle of horrible catastrophe, mass chaos, and with a major American city slowly drowning in raw sewage and gasoline, this one really looked like the most heinous form of fame-humpery, especially coming in a paper with a 1A headlined “A city beyond desperation” in giant type. What should we put on page 12A? One million people homeless! Nah, too sad. That the “M” in FEMA apparently stands for “Maybe you black folks will get some water next week if you’re lucky”? Nah, too complicated. Say! How about we report on those semi-famous members of the lucky sperm club who just blew into town? Yeah! That’s a great idea! If there’s any good news in all this, it’s that after a couple days of sleeping in their satellite trucks and smelling their cameraman’s feet, the TV talking heads deployed to the Gulf Coast put away their softballs and started lobbing bricks. After years of suspecting that television media had been taken over by the animatronic presidents from Disneyland — and round-the-clock “Missing Blonde of the Month” coverage — it was great to see a lot of these blow-dried types hit rock bottom, where their balls and journalistic integrity were waiting for them. Nothing warmed my heart more than Fox News anchor Shepard Smith jogging after a carload of cops who had just sped past the throngs left to die on a blazing hot overpass, Smith shouting “Where is the help for these people?” Very un-Foxlike of him, I must say. Or this jewel, from MSNBC anchor/right wing kook Joe Scarborough: “[T]hese are people who have young babies who haven’t had water in four days, in some cases, haven’t had formula, haven’t had basic necessities. I just wonder what you would do, what I would do if we were in a situation where our 15-month-old child or our 2-year-old baby needed something to stay alive. I don’t know what you would do. I know I would do anything it took to get what they needed. … I should be getting it from the federal government if I am in New Orleans, from the state government. But I will tell you what. It is amateur hour, and it has been amateur hour over the past four or five days.” Or this one from Karl Rove tool (and all-around tool) Robert Novak: “What Chertoff got down was the White House mantra, repeated endlessly, that the ‘after-action analysis’ should not interfere with current recovery operations. It was similar to saying the Pearl Harbor attack should not have been investigated and nobody disciplined for failures until World War II was won.” (Who knew that all it took to convert a Republican into a bleeding heart liberal was the sight of a rat-gnawed corpse floating in the gutter while American children die of thirst 10 feet away? That’s all? Somewhere, Howard Dean is slapping his slowly-expanding forehead.) After a few days of having their hollow, talking-point platitudes batted down by suddenly pissed-off reporters, many of whom have witnessed the criminal ineptitude of the federal response firsthand, morons like Michael Chertoff lost their Bushie swagger and started to look like what they actually are: the jerkoffs who blew it. It made me want to cheer. THESE PEOPLE are supposed to protect us from another 9/11? On three, everybody turn to the person closest to you, bend down, and kiss their ass goodbye. One, two… I love New Orleans! david@arktimes.com

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