In the know.

I caught a few minutes of Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman talking to whatsisname with the blond hair over in New Orleans. There was rather more material for blog posts than I could cope with, but here’s a few extracts:

“…This is going very badly for the Republicans…”

“…Bush is trying to palm off blame on the director of FEMA… but that won’t wash, since the White House appointed the director of FEMA…”

“This is going to have a big impact on the way President Bush is seen by History, isn’t it?”

It no longer surprises me to hear from the Beeb that History, so tight-lipped to lesser mortals, has already confided her judgement to the Newsnight team. But one comment really did surprise me. Whatsisname actually said that it was “extraordinary” of former President Bill Clinton to intervene to criticise Bush. He said ex-presidents just don’t criticise, even implicitly, their successors.

Excuse me?

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81 Responses to In the know.

  1. Nigel says:

    In fact, Clinton did quite a bit to defend the federal response when he and Bush 41 appeared on television together.

    He, at least, has some idea of just how complex a task it can be…


  2. TomL says:

    I saw the footage where Clinton spoke – Bush senior was standing at his elbow at the time. Nevertheless, it’s spun against Bush. No surprise there.

    They want Bush’s scalp so bad they can taste it.


  3. Tony says:

    I saw the Clinton press conference today, and the transcript of Clinton on CNN the other night. He seemed to be defending Bush more than Critisizing.

    Yes he implyed that Bush dropped the ball on fixing the levee problem before disaster struck. And he said that he’d like FEMA to be organized differently. But neither of those is criticism of how Bush handled the crisis itself.


  4. Tony says:

    Also, as to the “this is going very badly for the Republicans remark”. The polls don’t really show that. The latest poll shows that more people blame the state and local government than the Feds


  5. StinKerr says:

    Clinton did some covering of his own ass in that news conference. He knows about the cuts in the levee projects that took place under his administration. Indeed Congress voted more money to those projects than he had asked for in his budget.

    Again it would appear that the Beeb correspondents are either ignorant of how things work in the U.S. or perhaps willfully ignorant in the hopes that everyone else is ignorant and they can spew their … er … misconceptions.

    Local and state authorities are in charge and must request federal aid. It cannot be forced upon them. President Bush paved the way to entertaining the request by declaring a disaster area before the hurricane hit but he’s not allowed to send troops or any other federal agencies in until he gets the request from the state’s governor.

    To quote Bill Wittle “We limit the power of the federal government… This is so that we do not develop a central power so strong that eventually we end up with idiot inbred royals, or Presidentes for life, on the face of OUR money.”

    That link is to Wittle’s latest essay. Well worth the read. Visit the loo and get a fresh cuppa before you start reading though.


  6. sally says:

    Clinton may genuinely wish to defend Bush, and realise how difficult it is in such situations. However, I can’t help feeling he was being the “good cop”, in preparation for Hillary’s campaign…even Justin Webb said how well she’d positioned herself – and did anyone else hear Justin lying (yes I have thought about using that word) as he described Bush’s remarks about visiting Trent Lott’s (Justin was desperate to say Bush had promised to rebuild Lott’s house and sit on the porch, how awful this was when people were still dying etc – Bush’s remarks were not what Justin claimed…)


  7. Lurker says:

    In their excitement over Bush they (the MSM)often forget, I think, that he isnt up for re-election. So many of their claims about his popularity are rendered even more meaningless.


  8. JohninLondon says:

    Contrast this inanity from New Orleans with the behavior of the Mayor of New York after 9/11 and especially the actions/attitudes of the NYPD and NYFD.


  9. James says:

    I caught the sneering one’s report; it seemed to me by the end that even Paxo showed a hint of embarassment at his rant. Not out of any commitment to balance I’m sure, more that one of their own was close to letting the mask slip.
    Also worth mentioning is the BBC’s positioning of their man Ken Clarke and the fawning Kofi Annan interview.


  10. Ian Barnes says:

    It made be laugh this morning, i saw a newsnight Poll suggesting Ken Clarke would be most popular amongst potential voters.

    Newsnight and the BBC forgot one thing, all last week practically every free air time slot they dedicated to him. Not one of the other 2 i.e. David Cameron or David Davis where given any air time on BBC news at all.

    So i’d say, they’re biased, and the findings of their poll are inacurate.

    If each person had equal air time, the poll would be far different, and i think you’d find David Cameron miles out in front.

    I think one presenter summed it up quite clearly, when he said, that only the British press was critical of the US administration.

    I think that say it all really..the British press are so out of touch its rediculous..

    Poor old David Willis seems to have been replaced by the indifferent Ben Brown…i hope we havent harmed his career by praising him?


  11. Cockney says:

    Only the British press are critical of the US administration????? Have you seen much press outside of the republican areas of the US who aren’t????? Elements of the right wing press in the UK must be just about the only non American media on the planet who aren’t overwhelmingly hostile.

    And how exactly is that ‘out of touch’. Is the Bush administration suddenly the hight of fashion for Autumn or something? The BBC is open to criticism as it should be impartial. Everyone else has the right to come to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that the administration is a bad thing and reports accordingly. To quote just about everybody here – when private media is compared unfavourably to the beeb ‘if you don’t like it don’t buy it’.

    Re: Tory leadership candidates I disagree – nobody yet knows what David Cameron stands for apart from some meaningless ‘inclusive’ fluff. How can you support that? I’ve been convinced by people on here that Clarke can’t win within the party but he’s still undeniably popular in the country.


  12. dan says:

    Re Clarke – it did seem to me that the Newsnight polling overstated Clarke’s “popularity” – how many respondents plumping for Clarke would never vote Tory?

    Clarke will be approaching 70 by the next general election & given his weight, his cheroots & a fine claret face, what’s the betting that he will have been forced into retirement before then?


  13. Ian Barnes says:

    Cockney, you obviously didnt read what i said.

    I said if each of the 3 candidates were given as much air time, as Ken Clarke received last week on the BBC, then we would see a different outcome in the Poll..

    We all know New Labour are orchestrating the Tory leadership contest, its a pitty the Tories can’t work that one out.

    You see, the New Labour government controls much of the media in the UK, and is hence, able to manipulate it when and if needed..and it is..

    There is no doubting Clarke is popular, but wouldn’t you be if your face was contantly plastered all over TV?

    RE: Hostile to the US, i was quoting the reporter on TV, also, if the BBC is to provide balanced reporting of both sides of the argument, and merely provides a criticism of the administration, then it is out of touch. sorry mate, but if you cant see that, i dont know what to say..


  14. Herschel Zimonas says:

    I keep coming up against this acronym: MSM. Please could someone explain it to me? Cheers.


  15. Ted says:

    It seems to have escaped the BBC that at least 55% of the US population do not blame Bush; that as every hour passes, more and more scrutiny is falling upon the performance of the state authorities; and that the recovery job is now in full swing, made easier by the falling water levels. This has been a dire episode for the BBC and sadly adds another nail into the coffin.

    By the way, Clinton will be the next UN Sec General – offered to him by the current administration. He’s been consistently defending Bush on all the major media outlets, but the BBC seems to have ‘not noticed’ this inconvenient fact.


  16. Peter Briffa says:

    MSM= Mainstream media


  17. Cockney says:

    Ian, many apologies – on further investigation Cameron has publically put forward some interesting ideas which I wasn’t fully aware of as they’ve been inadequately reported. I still think it’s daft to say that ‘much’ of the media is in Labour’s pockets though – most of the print media, which is far more influential on political views than broadcast, is pretty antagonistic to the government.

    Re: US hostility – as I said the Beeb should be impartial but isn’t. I see and fully agree with that. Your first post was phrased in terms of the British media as a whole whose viewpoint is entirely up to them. If the administration wants to be more popular with foreign media it should improve it’s PR overseas and adopt policies that will go down better with prevailing political views overseas. I suspect that quite rightly they’ve got other priorities.


  18. Pete_London says:


    Re. Bush and Trent Lott’s home. I saw the piece on Sky News a couple of days ago and I’m 100% certain that Bush said he’s looking forward to sitting on his porch when his home is rebuilt. Justin Webb, speaking on BBC R5’s 6.00pm news broadcast did clearly state that Bush told his ‘rich’ friend that he’s looking forward to sitting on his porch when ‘we’ (i.e. federal government) rebuild it. If I’m recalling Bush’s words correctly then Justin Webb has lied on air about the President’s words, he deliberately misquoted him to cast him in a bad light. If they weren’t such a malevolent bunch it would be laughable.


  19. Herschel Zimonas says:

    MSM: Thanks, Peter.


  20. D Burbage says:

    Natalie, if you had watched the 10 o’clock news you would have seen another BBC man on the same boat that helped ‘rescue’ those two brothers who had lost their mother. Curious that the BBC can fund 2 reporters to go round in the same boat, attend the same house just for the benefit of having different programmes to report for.

    Matt Frei is terrible terrible terrible. He can’t report on the disaster, he has to deliver a political diatribe about how terrible this all is for Bush. He even ended his 10 o’clock news bit with a wishing dream of a ‘perfect political storm’ (his words) for Bush if there were some bad disaster in Iraq…..

    Our favourite leftwing economist Paul Mason is also on the scene to make the predictable, and usual class-based assessment of the disaster.

    I switched him off to watch CNN, which was FAR more informing about the relief effort, the damage done and toally Frei free.


  21. Hazel says:

    Re Newsnight last night, and the Kofi Annan interview. I’m not sure that it was so much “fawning”, more putting words into his mouth. I thought Kofi came across as a crumbling mumbling wreck with Lyse Doucet totally dominating the interview and feeding him lines all about how awful the US is. Eg: haven’t they messed up with the Katrina rescue operation – haven’t they made life difficult for you with your UN reform plan – aren’t you going to be heroic when you get unfairly criticised on Wednesday.

    If this was the UN’s idea of damage limitation ahead of Wednesday’s Volcker report (with the BBC of course as it’s ever-willing tool), then it’s failed. No-one can have an ounce of respect for Annan, if they ever did have.



  22. Ian Barnes says:

    Cockney, do i have to list all the pro New Labour press for you?

    The Times
    The Sun
    The FT
    The Observer
    The BBC

    Channel 5 news (now owned by Murdoch)

    Virgin Radio (Branson and Blair are best buddies)

    Skynews (owned by Murdoch)

    Daily TELEGRAPH (Recently purchased by Pro New Labour Supporters, although news content hasnt been fully changed, its just a matter of time).

    I could list more..the fact is so much of the media is onside with New LABOUR, we have to accept that it is very difficult to counter act.

    But what goes around comes around..


  23. Clive says:

    Last night’s BBC America/World News
    had a Matt Frei report from New Orleans in which he invoked Baghdad and Vietnam in the first 15 seconds.

    Is this a new record?


  24. Joe N. says:

    I’m with Tom L. I saw the feed on the news conference. Clinton was brief. For HOURS, the BBC repeated it. initially they only emphasised. Then augmented slightly. 12 hours later you would have had the inpression that Clinton gave a 2 hour policy speech.
    Basically, the policy and political attribution the beeb gave it were beyond abstraction, they were invention. 90 percent of it had nothing to do with Clinton’s brief comment.


  25. Rob says:

    Off topic:

    This morning on the Today Programme at 8.50 they interviews 2 people. One has written an article for today’s Independent (he blamed the Mayor, local goverment and the people that failed to evacuate) and a member of “Democrats Abroad” (he predictably blamed Bush).

    The Democrats abroad guy was left floundering for words. Totally out-argued. Luckily for the Beeb, it reached 9.00am and they were able to get back on message with a news bulletin blaming Bush.


  26. Fausta says:

    Last evening’s BBCA newscast managed to mention “Baghdad, Viet-Nam, and Contras” in the very first sentence. Dazzling


  27. dave t says:

    Go here to see the video showing New Orleans POLICE OFFICERS joining in the looting at a Wal-mart. ‘But’ cries the BBC ‘they were looking for food’ yeah – that’s why there are people riding off on bikes, raiding the DVD shelves etc! This is why the National Guard had to wait until the good cops managed to sort things out – it was either that or have the sight of soldiers on America’s streets shooting American citizens (no matter how much some of said citizens may have deserved shooting..). If law and order has broken down it makes it even more difficult to get rescue equipment etc in. Will they point this out on the BBC?


  28. marc says:


    I’m posting this in several places to get the word out.

    To all who think Paul Reynold’s did a fairly unbiased report, even if you have a few quibbles, I encourage you to email the BBC and praise Paul’s report with the same fervor you condemned Wells and Webb.

    It’s fair and it’s right.

    We need to let the BBC know what good, unbiased reporting looks like as well as bad reporting.

    Yes, I know they should already know that, but we need to hammer from both sides. IMHO
    marc | Homepage | 06.09.05 – 1:49 pm | #


  29. Ted says:

    I am still waiting for the first BBC description of armed thugs/ looters etc in NO as ‘insurgents’….


  30. Ian Barnes says:

    Marc listen buddy, Paul is on the right track, but needs more than one article before i change my tune.

    I agree that praise should be given where it is due. However, as with anything consistency is the key.

    I’ll be monitoring Paul’s work and others to analyse and see how he does.

    He seems intelligent enough, and perhaps he will change to provide balanced reporting.

    Only time will tell. I hope also it will rub off on some of his colleagues?


  31. D Burbage says:

    Will, that’s brilliant. I’ve sent the link to Mutt – see if he responds!


  32. Ian Barnes says:

    I like it Will, “Bush shouldnt have allowed it to happend” well funny..

    i think he should have got out his rain stick and done a dance round in circles to stop the rain.

    Then everything would be just fine..and the BBC could complain about something else..

    I am waiting with baited breath to watch tonights News at 10pm, and maybe 6pm, to see how our good friend FREI, holds up..

    He isnt the guy from Futurama is he?


  33. Roxana Cooper says:

    “Only the British press are critical of the US administration????? Have you seen much press outside of the republican areas of the US who aren’t????? Elements of the right wing press in the UK must be just about the only non American media on the planet who aren’t overwhelmingly hostile.”

    This is of course quite true. Our MSM is dominated, indeed controlled, by the Left. Media bias has been the subject of several best selling books and I assure you the American people are painfully aware of it.

    In other words the Media does not – repeat *not* – reflect the opinion of the majority of Americans, only the bi-coastal elite.


  34. Kerry B says:

    Re New Orleans and the “Bush is to blame” mantra:

    For decades N.O. state and local politicians have been playing Russian roulette with hurricanes. It has not made any difference whether a Democrat or Republican occupied the Oval Office. This is primarily a local issue, FEMA’s incompetence in the face of an overwhelming disaster notwithstanding. It has been apparent for years that N.O. and Louisiana had not come up with an adequate plan to evacuate its 130,000 citizens who did not have transportation to safety. The N.O. major, local and state officials bear primary responsibility for this sad state of affairs. N.O. and the state of Louisiana has long been known for its corrupt, incompetent politicians. (There are a few shining exceptions.) N.O. was the first southern city to come under the control of the mob. Now it’s “all Bush’s fault.” The BBC needs to get a grip on its ‘reporters’. Frei, Wells and Webb should be ashamed. Those who employ them should be embarrassed. The rest of us should no longer listen.


  35. Susan says:

    New Orleans is the home of the notorious Marcello crime family, whose Don, Carlos Marcello, was one of the most powerful and vicious Dons in all the US. (He died in 1993 and had run the NO mafia since the early 60s). The organized Mafia in NO goes back to the 1890s.

    It was Marcello who was suspected of being involved in a plot to kill one or both Kennedys with Sam Traficante. Marcello also spoke with Jack Ruby only days before JFK’s assassination.

    (Not that I have an opinion on the above, just reporting what many people have suspected/said about Marcello.)

    Nice town.


  36. Susan says:

    Forgot to add, the reason that Marcello was suspected was because he was being investigated by Bobby Kennedy’s Mafia commission.


  37. Susan says:

    PS — another interesting fact about LA/NO that our British friends may not know about is that the notorious Huey P. Long, the corrupt “Kingfish” who ruled LA with an iron fist as governor in the 1930s, was the model for the character of “Willie Stark” in the classic American novel “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren. (You may have seen the old movie made from it which starred Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark.)

    Kingfish’s late son Russel Long was a US Senator from Louisiana for nearly 40 years; he just died not too long ago.


  38. Susan says:

    Kingfish was of course a Democrat, I forgot to add.


  39. dan says:

    Sopel continues with his near hysterical shrill tones asking the same questions of federal administration officials.

    What does he want. For someone to break down, admit full responsibility & commit hari kiri live on air?

    For goodness sake, Sopel et al, we have got the message, isn’t there more to report than banging on about the delay in bringing relief?

    Bush has agreed that there will have to be an inquiry after the immediate crisis has been resolved. So Sopel asks a former Clinton appointee “Will Bush be able to resisit an enquiry?”


  40. Susan says:


    I don’t have any fears for Bush in any such enquiry. They’l subpeona Blank-o and Nagin and make them testify in front of a televised Senate hearing. Live broadcasts from the Senate floor of Blank-o bursting into tears and Nagin rambling about CIA hits will be all Bush needs to get the point across about the failures of the local government.

    The Democrats are fools to open up this can of worms. I hope the hearings do focus national attention on the awful corruption and incompetence of Louisiana politics, and shames the local guys into cleaning up their act (admittedly a tall order).


  41. uth says:

    As an American, I’ve long suspected that the BBC’s coverage and analysis of US affairs was often an excercise in wishful thinking.

    I no longer suspect that since it seems pretty well confirmed to to me now.

    BTW, can somebody explain the process by which the BBC “Have your Say” comments are selected? Everytime I read those comments, I pretty much lose faith in humanity. Please tell me it’s not a true cross-section of opinion.


  42. dan says:

    uth – it’s (D)HYS “Don’t have your say” as far as most visitors to this site are concerned. Our attempts to have a contribution published almost always fail, except when spoofing the usual far-left lunacy that is so successful in getting accepted by the BBC.


  43. nero says:

    Les etats unis sont entres en décadence, comme une grande partie de l’occident, incapables de gerer une crise somme toute mineure , incapables de gagner la guerre contre le terrorisme en irak , gageons que l’ amerique de maintenant serait incapable de gagner wwt , il me semble que l’organisation du débarquement en normandie etait plus compliqué q’une intervention dans son propre pays, sans ennemis qui vous tirent dessus, la france ne va guère mieux ,il va faloir se réveiller si nous ne voulons pas que le monde ne soit partagé dans 50 ans entre l”union des républiques islamistes d’eurasie et la chine communiste !!


  44. Susan says:

    nero, you can’t compare the NO relief efforts to the Normandy invasions. It may seem weird, but under our system of government, it actually is more difficult for the President to send military troops into an American state than to send them into a foreign country.

    It’s one of those famous “checks and balances” things embedded in our system of government.

    Most of the time our federal system works out well. This time it didn’t.


  45. uth says:


    got any examples of the spoofed comments that you did successfully get published? on HYS?


  46. John says:

    One of the real scandals that the Dems don’t want coming out, or the BBC, is that the environmental movement has been fighting the Army Corp of Engineers for years over the Miss. Delta. From the NYT, Apr. of this year:

    Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America’s rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects — this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences.

    The Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs accuse the corps of routinely inflating the economic benefits of its projects. And environmentalists blame it for turning free-flowing rivers into lifeless canals and destroying millions of acres of wetlands — usually in the name of flood control and navigation but mostly to satisfy Congress’s appetite for pork.

    This is a bad piece of legislation.

    Courtesy EUROTA blog (follow homepage link)

    MOre on Louisiana’s government:
    It was just a matter of time before the bill was sent to the state following its handling of federal FEMA flood buyout monies. The government says more than 30 million was misspent by the state through the Office of Emergency Preparedness between 1997 and 2002. Three former high level employees of the office are under federal indictment for charges related to the handling of those FEMA funds.

    Finally lots of good stuff at Junkyard blog


  47. dave t says:

    Meanwhile tonight Justin Webb on the enquiry – Bush getting in first, needs to cover his ass etc (in so many words). Then he did the old “half think he did reasonable job other half think he did bad job as is often the case with him”….what the heck?

    By using word like ‘reasonable’ instead of ‘good’ or ‘efficient’ Webb straightaway is implying the job was not done well; after all reasonable has negative connections ie not bad but not good, not great.

    Oh and Willis managed to show some military hovercraft landing supplies and slipped in ‘as they landed on another Gulf Coast another time’ I suppose we should be glad that the Louisiana coastline ain’t named Normandy huh?



  48. dave t says:

    Meanwhile Frei sits and talks to a big chap who gibbers on about the fact that he swatted 30 flies today man….great war reporting from the front against the dreaded bluebottle Matt….


  49. Ted says:


    I remember a certain city in a certain country who lost thousands of people in a heatwave in 2003. It’s likely that the death toll of this disaster will be lower.

    Anyway….the US is managing the crisis. There was a delay as the city was underwater and because the state and fed authorities just weren’t expecting this type of problem. Within 4 days, however, the wheels started moving and they have got things going. What do you expect? Problem solved in 1 hour? Not possible.

    As for the comments re War on Terror, the US is winning it handsomely. The media focus on bad news. In fact the situation now compared to pre Sept 11 is huge and much to the favour of the west. Militant muslims are scattered, on the run and confused throughout the world. A measure of their desperation is their attacks on fellow muslims, which now far outweigh the attacks on westerners. There will be further attacks but there is now no controlling organisation. Iran has to be dealt with, though.

    Iraq now has a constitution and is heading fitfully toward democracy. These things dont happen overnight – I would have imagined, as you are French, that you would know that already. Get a book on post WW2, Marshall Plan, rebuild of France etc.

    As for the prediction of a world divided between China and Islam in 50 years – this is fanciful. China’s economy is predicted t be about the size of Italy’s in 15 years, and the Americans will be stronger year by year for the next 25. As for the islamic world, it needs to decide if it wants to participate in the modern world or slowly destroy itself. Personally I dont care either way, as long as they stop taking innocent lives in the process.

    Soit calme, mon ami.