Saturday, September 10, 2005

NYT: "Casualty of Firestorm: Outrage, Bush and FEMA Chief" (Elisabeth Bumiller)

To Democrats, Republicans, local officials and Hurricane Katrina's victims, the question was not why, but what took so long?
Republicans had been pressing the White House for days to fire "Brownie," Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who had stunned many television viewers in admitting that he did not know until 24 hours after the first news reports that there was a swelling crowd of 25,000 people desperate for food and water at the New Orleans convention center.

Mr. Brown, who was removed from his Gulf Coast duties on Friday, though not from his post as FEMA's chief, is the first casualty of the political furor generated by the government's faltering response to the hurricane. With Democrats and Republicans caustically criticizing the performance of his agency, and with the White House under increasing attack for populating FEMA's top ranks with politically connected officials who lack disaster relief experience, Mr. Brown had become a symbol of President Bush's own hesitant response.

The above is from Elisabeth Bumiller's "Casualty of Firestorm: Outrage, Bush and FEMA Chief" in this morning's New York Times.

What do we learn from Bumiller's article? We "learn" that an anonmice says Bully Boy wanted to go into the heart of New Orleans but Karl Rove wouldn't let him. We "learn" that the African-American person must remain anonymous due to fearing the wrath of Rove.

Does anyone take that at face value?

Bumiller does.

She's apparently never heard the tales of Rove spinning the press. Now maybe she has a reason to trust this nameless person? But isn't it interesting that the anonymous tale makes Bully Boy look quite good? Convient?

Somehow, possibly due to hanging out with anonymice, she missed the public record on "Brownie."

From Democracy Now! yesterday:

Report: FEMA Head Fabricated Parts of Resume
More questions are being raised about the head of FEMA, Michael Brown. According to Time Magazine, Brown may have fabricated parts of his resume. Brown claimed that he worked in Edmond Oklahoma as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." In fact he was an administrative assistant to the city manager. One city official said he was essentially an intern. Brown also claimed that he was once the Director of Christian nursing facility in Oklahoma. But an administrator at the facility told Time that Brown was "not a person that anyone here is familiar with." In addition Brown claims on his resume that he won a prize for being "Outstanding Political Science Professor" at Central State University. But according to an official at the school, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student." Time reports these revelations raise new questions about how rigorously the White House vetted Brown before putting him in charge of FEMA. Most of his work experience prior to joining FEMA dealt with horses. He worked as the head of the International Arabian Horse Association for 11 years. He became the head of FEMA two years ago replacing his college friend, Joe Allbaugh.

Those are pretty serious issues. He reportedly lied about a teaching position. He reportedly lied about being an assistant city manager. It's hard to believe that Bumiller hasn't heard of those allegations but they're absent from her story.

Which means she's no Wilgoren. There's no transformation here. She's back to leading the Elite Fluff Patrol. Squad leader reporting for duty with a tale she can't credit to anyone that just so happens to paint the Bully Boy in glowing terms. He's not responsible, the article tells us, he wanted, really wanted, to go into the heart of New Orleans.

Were that allegation true, it's not as glowing as Bumiller fluffs it to be. It's yet another example of a failure of leadership on the part of the Bully Boy. Who's in charge here? Who's the adult?

You won't find it out in Bumiller's article.

It was nice, for a brief moment, when she returned to the real world. She erred even then but
. . . Now she's flying high on fluff yet again. Pushing unsourced tales off as "news" and ignoring very real, very serious allegations that are in the public record. (Allegations that the Times has yet to note.) She's curbed her excess, so she's learned something: write in a professional style if not manner.

She poses as a reporter today.

To her credit, she does note in the second paragraph that "Brownie" isn't gone. He wasn't fired. He remains as the head of FEMA. So let's ask it again, "Where's the accountability? Who's the adult?" A fluffer can't deal with that aspect.

It's left to Anne E. Kornblut (with fluffer Richard W. Stevenson) to address the allegations. The article, "Director of FEMA Stripped of Role as Relief Leader," should come with a warning: Fluffer On Board. From the article:

The action also came hours after a report on Time magazine's Web site that Mr. Brown had inflated his résumé set off a new round of questions about his qualifications. Newsday also reported inconsistencies in his resume.

This is a bad article, this is a really bad article. What are the "inconsistencties" Newsday reported?

Let's go to that Newsday article, Craig Gordon and Daniel Wagner's "A dubious resumeAs calls increase for FEMA chief's ouster, new doubts come to light about where he did, and didn't, work:"

The official White House announcement of Brown's nomination to head FEMA in January 2003 lists his previous experience as "the Executive Director of the Independent Electrical Contractors," a trade group based in Alexandria, Va.
But two officials of the group told Newsday this week that Brown, in fact, never was the national head of the group but did serve as the executive director of a regional chapter, based in Colorado, where Brown has lived.
And, Brown's immediate successor as the Rocky Mountain executive director, Terry Moreland, recalled that Brown held the job for less than six weeks before becoming FEMA general counsel in 2001.
Upon learning that the 2003 press release on the White House Web site states that Brown was the IEC executive director, the group's current top administrator, Larry Mullins asked, "Do you think I could get that taken down?" and said he planned to call the White House to have it removed.At the same time, the January 2003 White House press release on Brown's nomination dropped any reference to Brown's main job prior to joining FEMA in 2001 - a decade-long stint with the International Arabian Horse Association.
FEMA spokesman Mark Pfeifle said last night that documents Brown provided to the White House stated that he was the interim director of the group in Colorado but "when it was written up in the public release, it did not contain that portion." Pfeifle did not know why, and the White House did not immediately return calls for comment.

Now let's return to the Times article and note this section:

Mayor Miller said Dallas would start its own relief fund to help finance the removal of 1,500 evacuees from downtown shelters into apartments over the next 10 days.
"Where is FEMA national?" she said. "We keep being told that help is coming and so far we're not getting the help. So we will do what the government can't do. We will take the 1,500 people sleeping on cots and air mattresses and move them into apartments with beds and furniture and sheets and towels."

What's going on in Dallas? Apparently the Times can only tell you what they're told, over a phone line. And then call it "reporting." (I've stated here many times that when I do phone calls on something, I don't consider it reporting. The Times apparently does.)

Dallas will be reporting on the city of Dallas' efforts with evacuees at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Unlike the reporters involved in this story -- there's a long list, we'll note it in a moment -- Dallas was actually in the Convention Center. Here's the below the title credits, the end credits in fact, for this article because more than Kornblut & Stevenson are involved:

Reporting for this article was contributed by Carl Hulse in Washington; Ralph Blumenthal and Bill Dawson in Houston; Michael Cooper in Gulfport, Miss.; Michael Luo in Baton Rouge, La.; Motoko Rich in New York; and Campbell Robertson in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Two journalists reporting from Houston? Is that a typo? Blumenthal and Dawson were both reporting from Houston?

If they were reporting from Houston, where's the fact that Harris county refuses to allow a low-watt radio station to broadcast from the stadium? If we need more information, and apparently Blumenthal and Dawson feel that we do (witness the section on computers), how did they miss this that aspect of the story? Or does the Times just not give a damn?

So two articles and one skirts over the obvious fact that the allegation isn't "inconsistencies," it's outright lies. The resume, is it a government document? Did no one check it out? Did no one do a background check? That's the sort of that thing that's missing from both articles. Bumiller's fails to even mention it which is a huge oversight since her article is labeled a "news analysis."
You kind of have to report the basic facts to do any sort of analysis.

Just as the Timid had to revise their policy for titles when faced with a disgraced Spiro Agnew, they revise "lie" to make it "inconsistencies."

And apparently the Timid is too timid to take on the allegations of a sitting official they haven't yet determined is wounded in the eyes of the Bully Boy. They'll wait for cues and only if they smell blood will they seriously address the alleagations about his lying on his resume.

It's all about the access at the Times. "All the news that gains us access."

The e-mail address for this site is