Friday, September 09, 2005

Bad News For MSM: Katrina Death Toll Lower Than Predicted

Early reports from New Orleans are indicating that Mayor Ray Nagin's much-repeated prediction of 10,000 dead was wildly pessimistic. It's unclear what factual basis Nagin had for the prediction, but it has been repeated endlessly by breathless network anchors anxious to start filming the corpses.

From Fox News:
They said Friday that their first systematic sweep of the city found far fewer bodies than expected, suggesting that Hurricane Katrina's death toll may not be the catastrophic 10,000 feared.
On the NBC Nightly News Brian Williams made a partial concession, but left out the "far" and simply said, "fewer bodies".

From KBTV4 News:
(Baton Rouge) -- Estimates of the final death toll from Hurricane Katrina have been as high as ten-thousand, but the official body count to this point is much lower. Officials who feared the worst now are hoping their predictions were wrong. As of Thursday, Mississippi had recorded 201 deaths and Louisiana totaled up 118.

Other affected states had much lower numbers.
These predictions have a familiar ring to them. Television pundits predicting 10,000 casualties during the Gulf War were off by more than an order of magnitude. Likewise, those who warned of "tens of thousands" of casualties when American troops faced the Iraqi Republican Guard were proved wrong (oddly, the same pundits were silent when President Clinton sent troops to Bosnia and Somalia). One would almost get the impression that there is a partisan bias at work in the news departments of NBC, ABC, and CBS. Of course, we know there's no bias there because they have told us there isn't.

Why all the Chicken Littles? It makes good copy, for one thing. For another, 10,000 deaths in New Orleans would justify the wall-to-wall negative coverage of relief efforts with concomitant bashing of the administration. Remember, for those who depend on the networks, no news has happened anywhere else in the world since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

If they are off by an order of magnitude again they'll be exposed as having hyped the crisis. The networks need those bodies.