Monday, September 19, 2005

Bloggers get the Broussard/Rodrigue right

On Sunday, Sept. 4, Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans, was interviewed by Tim Russert on NBC's Meet the Press. 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 on Meet the Press.

As with the reporting by Dan Rather of CBS on George Bush's National Guard service, a number of bloggers quickly questioned the validity of Broussard’s story broadcast by NBC.

On television, Broussard related the personal story of a man whose mother had died in the flooding caused by Katrina. Broussard, who did not identify the man by name at the time, broke down in tears as he related the story. The unidentified man was later identified as Thomas Rodrigue. 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.” Officials believe that the residents of St. Rita’s died on Monday, Aug. 29, not on Friday, Sept. 2, as Broussard had suggested.

This story is also relevant to the July 31 book review of Judge Posner, and the later comments thereon. The bloggers got it right. The national media unleashed an inaccurate story on the general populace. Take a note, Bill Keller.


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