New Orleans city officials off hook

'Stunningly incompetent' Mayor Nagin given a pass by Denver's News, Post

Sept. 10, 2005

by David Kopel

The most important photo you never saw in the Denver newspapers, but which was seen by millions on the Internet, was a satellite photo (originally available on of about 250 New Orleans school buses, sitting in a flooded parking lot.

Except for a brief mention in a Rocky Mountain News editorial on Wednesday, the Denver papers have almost totally neglected the catastrophic failure of the New Orleans government and its stunningly incompetent Mayor Ray Nagin. It was the New Orleans city government, after all, that was responsible for evacuating New Orleanians who did not have their own automobiles.

Yet the New Orleans government provided not a single bus to take people out of the city. Had these buses been mobilized, more than half of the 30,000 people later trapped in the Superdome could have been taken to safety before the storm hit in a single fleet run. Many more could have been evacuated if the school and public transit buses had started multiple runs 48 hours before the storm hit.

While appropriately investigating failures of the federal government, the media should not turn a blind eye to state and local failures.

Kudos to Newsscience writer Jim Erickson for his article (Sept. 2) quoting University of Colorado and Colorado State University scientists debunking the silly theory that global warming caused or intensified Hurricane Katrina.

Unfortunately, the bogus theory was raised as a serious question in the Newscartoons of Ed Stein and Tom Toles. Stein and Toles have both drawn cartoons mocking the Intelligent Design theory, yet their own respect for science appears to be rather selective.

Internet gambling is illegal in Colorado, as The Denver Postreminded readers in a Sept. 1 article quoting the Colorado Attorney General's office and the Colorado Division of Gaming. Yet on that same day, the News and Postran an advertisement for, promising "Football action you can bet on!" The company, based in Antigua, allows persons to use credit cards or other money transfers to wager on football and many other sports, and to gamble on poker and 10 casino games.

Because Internet gambling is illegal everywhere in the United States, the papers were clearly facilitating illegal activity, notwithstanding the small-print disclaimer "void where prohibited by law."

The Denver Newspaper Agency, which controls all advertising sales for both papers, is so "ethical" that it will not run classified ads for occasional firearms sales by persons who are not licensed firearms dealers (even though such sales are completely legal), nor will the DNA run ads for so-called "assault weapons" (cosmetically incorrect guns which are legal throughout the state, except in Denver).

But the DNA does, as I've discussed in previous columns, run dishonest ads for phony papal memorabilia and for vastly overpriced "collectable" coins, and also sells paid advertisements in the Real Estate section which are disguised as news articles, with no disclaimer that the "articles" are advertising.

Kudos to PostTV critic Joanne Ostrow for her Sept. 1 article reporting on the scandal at Air America, the left-wing national talk network some of whose programs are is heard in Denver on Clear Channel's KKZN (760). Ostrow explained that the scandal involves a possibly improper loan of up to $875,000 from the federally funded Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in New York City. She lauded bloggers including Brian Maloney and Michelle Malkin (whose syndicated column appears in the News) for pursuing a story which was ignored by the mainstream media.

At the News,the Air America network has been mentioned in 48 items since its 2002 debut. Yet the only coverage of the months-old scandal was an editorial (Aug. 13) castigating The New York Timesfor ignoring the controversy, and praising The New York Sunfor its aggressive investigation. On Thursday, the Sunreported that the suspicious loan from the charity to the for- profit radio network was "interest-free."

It is appropriate for New York papers to take the lead, since all the principals to the scandal are in New York, and it is the New York City Department of Investigation and New York state attorney general that are conducting the government inquiries. But it is also true that the Newsentertainment and news sections have entirely overlooked the corruption story involving a Denver station and its high-ratings hosts. (Malkin and Maloney argue that Al Franken has been lying about his role in the scandal.) Both the Newsand the Postwould do well to rely less on The New York Timesfor coverage of New York, and to start running some of the best stories from The New York Sun.

A Sept. 6 World Briefing item in the Newsnoted that a "mysterious blast" had destroyed a building in Gaza, killing six people. Hamas blamed Israel, which denied any involvement. The Newsitem consisted of the first three sentences of an Associated Press story and was cut so severely that readers were deprived of an essential detail: "Some residents said it was apparently a case of explosives in the house detonating prematurely as Hamas militants worked on a bomb." The Postran the full AP article, thus providing readers with appropriate contex

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