More Evidence of Post-Katrina Hype

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More Evidence of Post-Katrina Hype

I posted on this a several days ago -- the revelation that so much of what was reported during the first 36 hours of post-Katrina media coverage was hyped or imagined. Now, the Associated Press has offered yet more proof of the gap between rumor and reality:
On September 1, with desperate Hurricane Katrina evacuees crammed into the convention center, Police Chief Eddie Compass reported: "We have individuals who are getting raped; we have individuals who are getting beaten." Five days later, he told Oprah Winfrey that babies were being raped.

On the same show, Mayor Ray Nagin warned: "They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

The ugliest reports -- children with slit throats, women dragged off and raped, corpses piling up in the basement -- soon became a searing image of post-Katrina New Orleans.

The stories ... were repeated by public officials. Many news organizations, including The Associated Press, carried the witness accounts and official pronouncements, and in some cases later repeated the claims as fact, without attribution.

But now, a month after the chaos subsided, police are re-examining the reports and finding that many of them have little or no basis in fact.

They have no official reports of rape and no eyewitnesses to sexual assault. The state Department of Health and Hospitals counted 10 dead at the Superdome and four at the convention center. Only two of those are believed to have been murdered.

One of those victims -- found at the Superdome -- appears to have been killed elsewhere before being brought to the stadium ...

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