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"Hey, Shoot that Black Guy Running Off with the Bottled Water from Wal-Mart!"


“Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away,
They’re trying to wash us away.”

It isn’t my custom to watch the network or cable news channels. CSPAN’s Book TV is fantastic, as is the gavel-to-gavel; but the standard fare of CNN, MSNBC, Faux News, &c. aren’t conducive to digestion. After seeing pictures of New Orleans on The New York Times last night, I decided I’d better get some television coverage.

I forgot what “official reality” looked like. Let’s run down the list:

1. The Weather Channel: I watched about an hour of coverage from the Mississippi coast. Their resident “storm chaser” was Mr. Macho All American Love the Kids, Proud to Know That Kid Guy. Really very little “weather” especially when most of the scientists (LSU Hurricane Center, Meteorologists from regional universities) have been trying to make a point about reestablishing the wetlands to avert further catastrophe. (Which, by the way, they won’t be doing.) And, naturally, not word one about global climate change.

2. The Faux News Channel: Okay, I didn’t watch any of this nonsense.

3. MSNBC: Why watch Faux when you can see the same bloody thing on the Network formerly known as news? I love Keith Olberman. After that, the channel is pretty much shit. You have Joe Scarborough looking for the real killer of his intern, followed by the inimitable F… Tucker Carlson (who could ruin the bowtie singlehandedly!) whose pioneering journalism focused on… brace yourself…

Those awful black people!

Oh, yeah, some poor whites too.

While I must admit the footage of two NOPD ladies looting a Wal-Mart was priceless, the sanctimonious and unmistakably racist tone of the correspondent (and Tucker himself) was apalling. This was certainly not confined to MSNBC, though.

A sidenote: During the shot inside the Wal-Mart, the correspondent hounded the looters, who were loading up on supplies and a few choice gifts for their children, one man said to him that no one was worried about their lives, so why in the bloody hell would he worry about Wal-Mart’s profit-loss ratio. Though I don’t endorse looting, he has a point there. Cable news focused sharply on the forgotten and abandoned of New Orleans while not mentioning once (I withstood it all for around 3.5 hours) that these were folks of our very own Third World, the most economically disenfranchised class in the States. Where was the bus convoy to guide them to safety. In state government and FEMA terms, that would’ve been a pennance.

3. CNN: The bulk of my time last night was spent watching CNN, mainly because my choices were limited to it and the aforementioned sources. If the fact that Larry King was the most balanced and informative program on the television last night isn’t an indictment on the uselessness of mainstream news, I don’t know what is. I almost sent a fruit basket to Kathleen Blanco. The dread in her eyes was palpable! Naturally, Aaron Brown’s show made up for it.

During the course of last night’s news peruse, I witnessed the same seven young black males walking out of stores with T-shirts, beer and other assorted booty at least fifteen times. The story of the night seemed to be not “New Orleans is Sinking (And I’m Too Poor to Swim)” but rather “Looting in the Streets of N.O.”

One has to wonder: if looting is so widespread, why only thirty seconds of loop footage? The answer came quickly. As one CNN reporter shared, once the “looting and rioting” (those seven guys get around!) started in the Quarter, they were instructed to get out of Dodge. In other words:

“Well, Anderson, Hurricane Katrina was scary. I stayed in the hotel through it and my windows were shaking, I was praying the rosary I tell ya’ what.”

“Glad to hear you’re safe.”

“Not for long, Anderson! That was just a Category 4. The producers and NOPD have informed me that there are black people everywhere! We’ve got to get out of here!”

Thanks for the report. How many days until Book TV?

BRYAN NEWBURY is a writer and musician living in Lawrence, Kansas. He can be reached at:




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