I remember working out of the Convention Center in New Orleans, immediately following Katrina. The city was totally evacuated, and we were recovering the remains of folks across the region who’d perished during the storm, or following the failure of the levees.
The Convention Center itself was a cesspool of leftover and congealed human waste, and it was pretty obvious that ever thinking one could use that place for emergency shelter, in the summer, during a power outage, was a huge mistake. It was actually a series of dangerous bungles made by the city at that fateful time.
Concurrently, CNN allowed Ray Nagin, the Mayor, live access as he proclaimed to whoever watched CNN at the time, that the Convention Center was all cleaned up, and that people should start coming back to New Orleans.
Irresponsible to declare, and perhaps even more irresponsible to broadcast without further enquiry that would only have necessitated a 10 block walk to where teams were stationed on a daily basis, from 7AM till dusk.
In one large expanse of the same venue, several Cadillac Escalades were parked, having been “recovered” by the NOPD. The real story is they were stolen by members of the same organization so they could evacuate their own families. Then, when they were no longer required, they were returned as “recovered”.
At the time, everyone knew about the widespread corruption that completely undermined a credible city and state response to Katrina. CNN had their own narrative blaming the President, and even though that was provable nonsense, they stayed on that angle for the duration.
And now Mr. Nagin has been convicted on 20 counts of bribery and fraud.
I wonder if the handling of his administration by some in the press made him seem and feel invulnerable to scrutiny. He sure was sacrosanct during our nation’s worst natural disaster, even as he ranted and railed against those who actually had zero jurisdiction.
For a time he got away with a great deal. But the people he was responsible for lost at least as much.
He is not the only one to blame.