In the wake of Hurricane Katrina two sports were all the rage in New Orleans. One was the blame game, attributing all local and state incompetence to the feds. The other was inventing and spreading stories of murder and mayhem – killings, rapes, firing at rescuers, bodies stacked like cordwood.
But the accounts turned out to be grim fairy tales. They were also hardly harmless sensationalism – if there be such a thing; because of them people suffered and apparently died.
Among the horrors that never happened:
* Editor & Publisher headlined an article, “Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane,” while the French paper Liberation ran a detailed report on 1,200 people drowning in a single school.
* CNN claimed snipers were taking potshots at helicopters trying to evacuate patients from hospitals, while separately CNN host Paula Zahn breathlessly spoke of “reports” of “bands of rapists, going block to block.”
* To be fair and balanced, we note that Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera claimed from the scene that “Yesterday the sun set on a scene of terror, chaos, confusion, anarchy, violence, rapes, murders, dead babies, dead people.”
Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .
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