- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

Twisting the news

Los Angeles Times pundit Michael Kinsley, who used to work for CNN, says the network is coaching guests to “get angry” when they go on the air to discuss Hurricane Katrina.

“The TV news networks, which only a few months ago were piously suppressing emotional fireworks by their pundits, are now piously encouraging their news anchors to break out of the emotional straitjackets and express outrage,” Mr. Kinsley said. “A Los Angeles Times colleague of mine, appearing on CNN last week to talk about Katrina, was told by a producer to ‘get angry.’”

Mr. Kinsley’s words were reported yesterday by the online Drudge Report. CNN’s political stance was more or less confirmed by a New York Times article yesterday that suggested CNN host Anderson Cooper was heroic for scolding a Democratic senator who failed to condemn the Bush administration.

The New York Times article, written by Elizabeth Jensen, said: “Mr. Cooper’s Sept. 1 interview with Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, marked a turning point in the tone of hurricane coverage as he snapped when she began thanking federal officials for their recovery efforts.

“‘Excuse me, senator, I’m sorry for interrupting,’ Mr. Cooper interjected. ‘I haven’t heard that, because, for the last four days, I’ve been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

“‘And when they hear politicians slap — you know, thanking one another — it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours.”

The article did not say how Mrs. Landrieu responded, but she hasn’t had a nice word to say about President Bush or federal relief efforts since then.

Politicizing Katrina

“So, while many Americans were busy contributing money, clothing and other necessities for hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast residents, what was Sen. Chuck Schumer up to?” the New York Post asks in an editorial.

“Raising money off the backs of Katrina’s victims — for the Democratic [Senatorial] Campaign Committee,” the newspaper said.

“In one of the more cynical tricks we’ve seen lately, Schumer’s DSCC urged visitors to its Web site to sign a petition urging the firing of Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, the focus of much of the criticism of the federal response to Katrina. …

“A click on the petition opened a page requesting a donation to the DSCC, the party organization focused on recruiting and supporting Senate Democrats.

“Only after the press blew the whistle did the tasteless scheme end. The committee yanked the link and agreed to donate any funds raised to charity. …

“Chuck Schumer should be ashamed of himself.”

The weatherman

Former Vice President Al Gore has condemned the Bush administration for its response to Hurricane Katrina, and suggested that Mr. Bush was responsible for the storm, which Mr. Gore attributed to global warming.

“When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic floodwaters five days after a hurricane struck, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe, but to hold … the leaders of our nation accountable,” Mr. Gore told environmentalists Friday at the Sierra Club’s national convention in San Francisco.

Mr. Gore had been scheduled to give a speech to state insurance commissioners in New Orleans last weekend about the likelihood that global warming will spawn increasingly deadly hurricanes. He decided to take his speech to San Francisco after that conference was canceled, the Associated Press reports.

“The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences,” Mr. Gore said.

Spend, spend, spend

“With almost no debate and with precious few provisions for oversight, Congress has passed President Bush’s mammoth $62 billion request for emergency Katrina relief,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“House Speaker Denny Hastert says the final total will ‘probably [be] under the cost of the highway bill’ that Congress passed last month with a price tag of $286.4 billion,” Mr. Fund said.

“Despite such sums, there are few calls for offsetting cuts in other programs, apart from anti-war opportunists who see in Katrina a chance to undermine the Iraq effort. Last week Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma asked White House Budget Director Josh Bolten if he planned to continue to pursue budget reductions the administration had already proposed in its January budget. Mr. Bolten said he ‘didn’t have time’ to worry about that.

“All this leaves Mr. Coburn and other budget hawks wondering what has happened to what might be called ‘the Republican wing of the Republican Party.’ ‘The president could exercise leadership by insisting that we set priorities and offset the cost of Katrina relief by making changes elsewhere,’ says Mr. Coburn. ‘Sadly, we don’t have that leadership.’”

Top priority

By a 3-to-1 margin, Americans say border control is far more important to national security and fighting crime than gun control, according to a nationwide Zogby survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Second Amendment Foundation, found that 70 percent of the respondents said border control is more important, while only 23 percent favor more gun control. Seven percent of the respondents were undecided.

The survey was conducted Sept. 6-7 by randomly contacting more than 1,150 households around the country. The margin of error was 2.9 percent, the polling firm said.

Mayoral hopefuls

The four Democrats vying for the chance to face New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in November spent their final hours before today’s primary shaking hands at subway stations and senior centers, hoping to make an impression that will translate into votes.

Gifford Miller, Anthony Weiner and C. Virginia Fields attended memorial remembrances, but Fernando Ferrer had lunch and a photo-op with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has endorsed him.

A poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released yesterday found Mr. Weiner in second place with 25 percent to Mr. Ferrer, who has 32 percent. Thirteen percent of likely Democratic voters in the survey were undecided. The winner needs 40 percent to avoid a runoff in two weeks.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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