Monday, October 17, 2005

MSNBC is still stuck on stupid 
Though it's par for the course.

The breathless headline, of course, reads exactly what they were hoping the memos to show in the first place:

FEMA in Chaos at Start of Crisis, Memos Say.

The only problem, of course, is that beyond the usual uncertainty and the fog of information that ALWAYS accompanies a complex, multi-agency logistical endeavor in a degraded communications environment, the memos say no such thing.

Here's what we have:

1.) One local director complaining he's not getting what he requested from FEMA. (God save us from subordinate commands getting less than what they requested from higher. Of course, it NEVER happens anywhere, right?)

2.) We have an aerial evacuation that actually got underway SOONER than the FEMA director thought would happen. Now, if it were the other way around - if the FEMA director thought planes were rolling and they weren't, you might have a beef. In this case, you don't. Someone got their act together locally and executed. Maybe he should have informed higher. Or maybe, (more likely), he informed the local EOC and they bottlenecked the information. Or he may have emailed an update to Brown and Brown hadn't checked his email yet. Believe it or not, execs don't command by email.

At one point in time, some FEMA guy in Mississippi didn't know where Brown was physically located. Well, welcome to the real world, gang. Brown gets around, and he probably has better things to do in a crisis than send Carwile a 10-digit grid every 20 minutes as to his physical location. This is hardly indicative of an agency "in chaos."

3. FEMA needed supplies and asked Florida to help. This, to the idiots at MSNBC, is indicative of an agency "in chaos." I'm sure an agency that was NOT in chaos would not have gotten around to asking for anything? Just how in the world does that work? It's pretty obvious that this reporter hasn't tried to do anything complicated in his life. Apparently, in his sheltered existence, nobody ever makes the sausage. The sausage just IS.

4. There were a couple of emails from a FEMA deputy chief of staff critical of pressure to bring in someone from outside the agency. Wow. Imagine that. A bureaucrat defending his turf. This is in no way indicative of an "agency in crisis."

5. As further evidence of FEMA being "an agency in chaos," MSNBC breathlessly reports...drum roll, please...that Michael Brown, at one point, worked on a staffing organization chart.

The horror.

Oh, the humanity.

As a final coda, the article closes with an accusation that Brown and FEMA may have been concerned with how they are treated in the media. The irony is rich when the media create these media-driven feeding frenzies, and then criticize officials when they express concern about how they are presented in the media. I mean, who created this media environment in the first place? It sure as hell wasn't Michael Brown.

The article closes with an account of Brown congratulating his subordinate on a good job he did in a press conference. What was the reporter trying to accomplish? Is Brown never supposed to give an employee a pat on the back, now?

Are we criticizing Brown for watching the news? Because we were sure criticizing him for NOT watching the news, when he mentioned that he was unaware of any evacuees in the convention center, despite extensive coverage of same on CNN.

Look, snarkiness is fine when there's something to be snarky about. When there's nothing to be snarky about, it just comes across as petty.

MSNBC is still stuck on stupid.

It's pretty obvious that this reporter hasn't tried to do anything complicated in his life.

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