EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the January 30, 2006, issue of National Review.
On Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: “I’m here with Howard Fineman from Newsweek. Howard, you’re the best in the business.”
FINEMAN: “Thanks, Chris.”
MATTHEWS: “Howard, it’s been almost four months since the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. We’ve all had a chance to catch our breath and figure some things out. So let me ask you, from your perspective, what went wrong there?”
FINEMAN: “Well, Chris, it’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing. I mean, first, the levees, obviously.”
MATTHEWS: “The levees?”
FINEMAN: “Yeah. And the dynamics of surging water created a situation that — “
MATTHEWS: “No, no, no. I don’t mean ‘what went wrong’ as in ‘what went wrong with the levees and the flooding and the thing,’ I mean ‘what went wrong’ as in ‘what went wrong with the media reports.’”
FINEMAN: “Not following you.”
MATTHEWS: “C’mon, Howard, you’re the best in the business. We had reports about looting and rapes and cannibalism and thousands of bodies in the street, and it turned out that none of this was true.”
FINEMAN: “Well, right, but–”
MATTHEWS: “Howard Fineman, you’re the best in the business. Isn’t it true that the big story out of New Orleans is about reporting and journalism and the new media age?”
FINEMAN: “I like to think that the big story was about water and flooding and inefficient bureaucracy.”
MATTHEWS: “Yeah, okay, that’s a story. But isn’t the big story about this job and this profession? Isn’t Katrina really a story about us and the way we do our jobs?”
FINEMAN: “You know what? I think you may be on to something.”
On Meet the Press with Tim Russert
RUSSERT: “My guest today is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Good morning, Mr. Secretary.”
RUMSFELD: “Good morning, Tim.”
RUSSERT: “Mr. Secretary, last month Americans watched images across their television sets of happy, jubilant Iraqis with purple ink-stained fingers casting a ballot in the first totally free election in the Middle East in recorded history. Let me ask you, sir, if I may: What went wrong?”
RUMSFELD: “Well, I think a number of things, Tim. First, we had good security going into the election process. We also had excellent communication between the parties that–wait a minute. What went wrong?”..
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