RUSH: Let’s go to the audio sound bites. Here’s President Bush last night from New Orleans.
BUSH: I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.
RUSH: So let’s go now to the Astrodome in Houston, where lying in wait — or is it laying in wait? Whatever. They were sitting there. ABC News, Ted Koppel with a special early edition of Nightline with reporter Dean Reynolds. And they had lined up a sort of town hall meeting of guests, evacuees from New Orleans, who were taken outside the air-conditioned comfort of the Astrodome, made to sit outside in the heat and humidity and the insects of Houston, Texas, while watching this speech. ABC just knew that these people they interviewed were going to rip Bush to shreds. Well, let’s go to the tape. The reporter, Dean Reynolds, says, “I’d like to get the reaction of Connie London. She spent several horrible hours at the Superdome. You heard the president say repeatedly that you are not alone, that the country stands beside you. Do you believe him?”
LONDON: Yeah, I believe him because here in Texas they have truly been good to us.
REYNOLDS: Did you get a sense of hope that you could return to your home one day in New Orleans?
LONDON: Yes, I did. I did.
REYNOLDS: Did you harbor any anger toward the president because of the slow federal response?
LONDON: No. None whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in. They should have been on their jobs.
REYNOLDS: And they weren’t?
LONDON: No. No, no, no. Lord, they wasn’t. I mean, they had RTA busses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going underwater when they could have been evacuating people.
RUSH: And this did not change during the whole show. You hear how the reporter, Dean Reynolds, was sweating himself, doing his best to extract from these evacuees from New Orleans — once again, made to leave the air-conditioned comfort of the Astrodome to go outside in the heat, humidity and insects of Houston, sit there and watch the speech, and they just knew these people were going to come out and tar and feather Bush, and when they didn’t, Dean Reynolds kept probing and kept asking and kept hinting and kept imploring them to rip into Bush, the media living in the moment, and it did not happen. By the way, I’ll have to check this out, but I got an e-mail from a subscriber at Rush 24/7 today who said that he found a story back in the ’90s from I think it was either the Lafayette newspaper in Louisiana, or the Baton Rouge newspaper, that Mary Landrieu had succeeded in getting something like 150 buses put together in 14 hours to take voters to the polls in New Orleans. But back to the audiotape. From ABC’s early edition of Nightline, outside the air-conditioned comfort of the Astrodome, where New Orleans evacuees were made to sit and watch the speech amidst the heat and the humidity and the insects of Houston. Dean Reynolds goes to another guest. ‘Now, Mary, you were rescued from your house, which was basically submerged in your neighborhood. Did you hear something in the president’s words that you can gleen some hope from?’
MARY: Yes. He said we’re coming back and I believe we’re coming back. We’re going to build the city up. I believe that.
REYNOLDS: Do you believe you’ll be able to return to your home?
MARY: Yes, I do.
MARY: Because I really believe what he say. I believe, I’ve got faith.
RUSH: Let’s now go to evacuee No. 3, as ABC attempts to slice and dice Bush. Dean Reynolds says, ‘Now, Brenda Marshall, you spent, what, several days at the Superdome, correct?’ And she says, ‘Yes, I did.’ And Reynolds said, ‘Well, what did you think of what the president told you tonight?’
MARSHALL: I think the speech was wonderful. You know, him specifying that we will return back and that we will have like mobile homes or, you know, whatever. But I think it was a well defined speech.
REYNOLDS: Was there anything that you found hard to believe? That he said that you thought, ‘Well, that’s nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?’
MARSHALL: No, I didn’t.
REYNOLDS: Good. Well, very little skepticism here.
RUSH: ‘Very little skepticism here, Ted. We don’t know what’s gone wrong here. We had these people set up, we picked them out, we figured we were going to get some good Bush bashing going on here, but it just didn’t happen.’ It was a well fine speech. Dean Reynolds talking to evacuee No. 4, and here is the question.
REYNOLDS: And Cecilia, did you feel that the president was sincere tonight?
CECILIA: Yes, he was.
RUSH: Yes, he was. Finally desperate, ABC News Dean Reynolds goes back to evacuee No. 1 here. He said, “Mary, what is the one mistake that could have prevented — that would have made your lives better? Is it simply getting all of you out much sooner? What was the one mistake??
MARY: I’m going to tell you the truth. I had the opportunity to get out, but I didn’t believe it. So I stayed there ?til it was too late.
LONDON: And really, it wasn’t Hurricane Katrina that really tore up the city. It was when they opened the floodgates.
LONDON: It was not the hurricane itself. It was the floodgates. When they opened the floodgates, that’s where all the water came.
REYNOLDS: Do you blame anybody for this?
LONDON: Oh, yes. I mean they’ve been allocating federal funds to fix the levee system, and it never got done. I fault the mayor of our city personally. I really do.
RUSH: You talk about a major-league, big media backfire, this is it, ladies and gentlemen, immediately after the president’s speech on ABC last night. So Dean Reynolds tosses it back to Ted Koppel, who looked like he’d just eaten something that disagreed with him I thought. Here’s how that sounded.
REYNOLDS: Ted, that is the word from the Houston Astrodome, and as I said, when the president said that the Crescent City will rise again, there were nods all around this parking lot.
KOPPEL: Dean Reynolds, thank you very much. If the national response is reflected by that small group of people in the parking lot of the Astrodome, the president has made some major progress tonight.
RUSH: The thing that gets me about this, (imitating reporter) “Well, you know, this is just a bunch of small people in the Astrodome, but if the nationwide response is–” it’s like these people really still don’t count. What they said still doesn’t matter, because they’re just a bunch of people we dragged out of the air-conditioned comfort of the Astrodome, sat them outside in the heat, humidity and insects of Houston to watch the speech.