|19 Sep 2005 16:44:54|
|NBC forced to issue correction re Broussard's statement.|
For discussion and educational use only. Not for commercial use:
Power Line Blog
September 19, 2005
Oops, Never Mind
On Sunday, September 4, Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, La.,
appeared on NBC's Meet the Press. He broke down as he told the story of a
woman stranded in a nursing home who kept calling her son for help, day
after day, until she finally died on September 2, ostensibly because the
federal reaction to Hurricane Katrina was too slow. Broussard's
heart-wrenching story was a major moment in the anti-Bush media frenzy that
followed the hurricane.
Only it turns out Broussard's story was untrue. NBC has now issued a
New details and interviews with the son whose mother died in the flood
show that the tragedy unfolded from Saturday through Monday, Aug. 29 - not
Monday through Friday, Sept. 2 as recounted by Broussard. The owners of the
nursing home were indicted Tuesday for the deaths of more than 30 residents,
which officials say occurred on Aug. 29.
So the patients at St. Rita nursing home died the same day the hurricane
struck New Orleans. The purportedly slow federal response had nothing to do
It's a little hard to understand how Broussard got his facts so wrong. He
didn't just make a mistake on the date; he told the story in elaborate
detail. Only every detail was false:
The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's
responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing
home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is
somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you.
Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on
Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to
get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.
RUSSERT: Mr. President...
BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The
secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences.
I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us
Here is what really happened:
Rodrigue said he didn't see or hear Broussard's comments on Meet the
Press. When told of the sequence of phone calls that Broussard described on
Meet the Press, Rodrigue said "No, no, that's not true."
"I contacted the nursing home two days before the storm [on Aug. 27th] and
again on the 28th of August," Rodrigue said. "At the same time I talked to
the nursing home I also talked to the emergency manager for St. Bernard
Parish," Rodrigue said, "to encourage that nursing home to evacuate like
they were supposed to and they didn't until it was too late."
This is the nursing home whose owners refused to evacuate, and are now under
indictment due to the deaths of 34 patients and staff. The eager retailing
of false reports like Broussard's is an important reason why early public
opinion polls placed substantial blame for the catastrophe on the
administration. Congratulations to the bloggers who were skeptical of this
story and ultimately forced the correction.