It has a certain twisted logic: If the thing that is most responsible for Bush’s bad week is the bad TV images, and the reporters who saw with their own eyes that he and his underlings were lying–then surely the answer is to remove the reporters from the picture so we can all get back to spinning as usual.
Thus, blogs report “Rape, murder, beatings” in Astrodome, say evacuees — but the press is being excluded from the Astrodome, just as the press is being excluded from the ugly side of the recovery efforts (FEMA: “We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media.” And they are trying to enforce it too). You can get more details of the campaign against information at Jacob Appelbaum’s blog, along with the long, sad saga of his attempts to set up a low-power radio station there in order to provide information to its denizens. [Also, see the flickr collection of pictures from Houston, where the people evacuated are being held.]
[Update: more details at TPM, notably this link to Brian Williams’s account of the military training weapons on reporters. (Sudden flash of all the journalists shot by our troops in Iraq?)]
[Update2: Kevin Drum sees the pattern here also.]
Of course, it wasn’t just a failure of the administration’s media policy. It was a much more telling failure, a failure of the government to even care. A failure dramatically underlined by a rapier-like anecdote told by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about Bush’s reaction when she told him that he should fire FEMA Head Michael Brown:
‘He said ‘Why would I do that?”’ Pelosi said.
“‘I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn’t go right last week.’ And he said ‘What didn’t go right?””
Pelosi then said what needed to be said: the US government is headed by someone who is, in her words, ”Oblivious, in denial, dangerous.”