RUSH: All right, now to the audio sound bites. Hardball with Chris Matthews interviewed Peter King. This is interesting. It’s a five p.m. Eastern Time version of Hardball, a seven p.m. edition, two different shows. King was on the five o’clock. He reamed Matthews’ clock. Matthews asked him to come back for the seven o’clock. It happened again. Here are the highlights. On the five p.m. edition, Matthews says, “What should we be doing, Congressman King? What should be done? You look at the front story of the New York Times today, says that 80% of the money is going out in no-bid contracts, and as you say, sole suppliers, perhaps. But doesn’t that raise concerns by taxpayers that the money is going to the usual suspects?”
KING: The fact it’s the New York Times means nothing to me, but having said that, obviously any time you have no-bid contracts or sole source contracts it raises questions that have to be addressed. That’s why Bennie Thompson and I sent a letter to Secretary Chertoff telling him that as much as possible contracts should be given out to local contractors, minority contractors. That’s why inspector generals are down there. That’s why my committee and others are going to be looking at this carefully. If anything is done wrong the price will be paid. I’m just saying, let’s not rush to judgment. Obviously any time you go around the bidding process, the presumption is that it has to be looked at. It will be looked at very carefully. I guarantee you that. I’m just saying don’t indict and convict people before the facts are in.
RUSH: Yes. Let me just give you a little heads-up on this, because that was the subject of today’s morning update, this story in the New York Times reporting that FEMA signed a billion-and-a-half dollars in contracts to clean up the debris from Hurricane Katrina, but 80% were awarded with little or no competitive bidding — and, of course, who got it, Halliburton and the Shaw Group, both companies have been represented by Joe Allbaugh who was a former campaign manager for Bush and a former head of FEMA. Now, just three weeks ago, here’s the point, three weeks ago, the liberals were throwing a five-alarm tantrum because federal tentacles could not reach out and touch every victim of Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel fast enough. It was a catastrophic failure, the worst in history, rich Republican versus poor Democrat. It was racist, it was evil, capitalistic excess, and most of all it was all Bush’s fault. Now, when the feds act quickly to get the cleanup underway, it’s rich Republican lobbying, it’s evil capitalistic cronyism, it’s Bush’s fault and why are we hurrying, why don’t we have a bidding process? Well, there’s an answer to that. It never occurs to these stuck-on-stupid liberals that the reason companies like Kellogg and Shaw and Bechtel, the reason they’re called on to get the job done is because they can, is because they can!
They can get the job done. They have a track record of getting it done, unlike the liberals, who are in charge of building the levees where billions get diverted into a sinkhole of corruption. But don’t look for that expos? in the New York Times. They’re too busy feeding talking points disguised as news to the liberal kook base in the media. Folks, it is an outrage here, and King puts Matthews in his place. Wait ’til the facts are in. Well, the facts are these are the companies that do it. The facts are, Chris, you were complaining and whining and moaning about how long it took. Now we’re going to get this done and now you’re all worried about we’re not putting it out for bids. You know how long that would take? You want a bureaucracy to start a bidding process? And, by the way, we’re going to take the low bidder? We’re going to take the low bidder and have the levees rebuilt by the same corrupt cronies that rebuilt them the first time? That’s what needs to be said. Moving on, Matthews says, “Well, the president admitted he hadn’t given enough attention to this appointment, to Brown who put at FEMA. He didn’t give enough attention initially to Katrina. So he’s spending all these days down there now. I think the president’s been very honest about this. There was a failure of oversight and who was heading FEMA. There was a slowness to act by the president, his officials early on. He’s made up for that dramatically. I don’t know why anybody would want to defend the current system at FEMA though.”
KING: Chris, there’s a sort of frenzy here by the media. Let’s start thinking about the incompetence of the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of New Orleans. They were the ones in the first instance who were required to do the job and they didn’t. As far as President Bush, it’s wrong for you to say he wasn’t caring, he certainly was caring. What he was not equipped for was to explain the incompetency of the local officials or to explain the hysteria, or to anticipate the hysteria created by people like you in the media who go off the deep end. Let’s treat this with a little bit of rationality and a little bit of decency.
RUSH: King is right about something. Bush is too classy. He is not going to sit there when peppered with questions and accusations about the slow response. He’s not going to sit there and say, “I’m dealing with incompetence down there. You saw it. Have you seen any problems like this in Mississippi? Did you see any problems like this in Florida? How come it’s only happening in the Louisiana?” He can’t say that. But you know what his response is, his response is, as we told you yesterday (translation), “I’m going to put the military in charge of all this. To hell with it! You gonna sit here and complain to me? Fine, here’s what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to make sure that I don’t have to deal with the incompetence of local officials anymore wherever there are disasters. I’m going to get the one group of people that I know can do things right in there right off the bat and I’m not going to wait around for these incompetent imbeciles to ask me.” That’s what Bush is saying, but he’s too classy to say it that way.
“Rush, are you saying you have no class?”
No. I’m saying I’m not an elected official. I don’t have to get votes, and I can speak honestly. I don’t have to worry about political correctness. I don’t have to worry about offending some incompetent politician by calling them incompetent. The president obviously does, or thinks he does, so that’s why he has to play it close to the vest. He’s letting his policy speak for itself. “All right, fine, you complain to me, fine. Here. Honore is going to head this up and Honore is going to be on every American street corner at the first sign of disaster, is that what you want? Fine. I’ll give you Honore. ” Quick time-out. There’s more from the Matthews Hardball show with Peter King.
RUSH: Back to Hardball last night, the five clock show on MSNBC, Chris Matthews interviewing Peter King, Republican, New York. Matthews says, “Well, congressman, most people trust the media on this story because the pictures of what was happening down there in New Orleans apparently got to them before they heard of any federal action, but go ahead.”
KING: Chris, you are totally distorting reality. That’s the problem with you, you are distorting reality, you’re on the story, you at MSNBC were carried away with this, you should be ashamed of yourself, you disgrace yourself and the media.
RUSH: Matthews said, “Okay, you said that we’re guilty, let me get the words right, of ‘hyping’ this thing, hysteria, of creating hysteria about this and totally distorting reality and our coverage of the hurricane and the damage done in the south, do you want to go on, on that?”
KING: I’m talking about distorting President Bush’s role. Somehow this was almost entirely blamed on him. That was the certain impression given by the media from the very first moment when the levees broke, and yet Andrea Mitchell is talking about how President Bush didn’t put enough money into the water projects in Louisiana or the levee control projects, when it turns out that he put more money in, in his first five years, than Bill Clinton did in his last five years, and no state gets more money in the country than Louisiana does. There was much more focus put on what President Bush was supposedly not doing than the fact that it was the mayor who didn’t provide the buses to evacuate the people, send the people to the Superdome without adequate food or water, and then also, you know, the governor, the governor of Louisiana, I was down there last week and she said every report that was done before this, said a storm of this magnitude would kill 20,000 people. The fact is, so far, there’s less than 800. Every death is tragic, but why isn’t your story, you know: Less than 4% of those who were supposed to be killed were not killed because of the efforts of the federal government? The Coast Guard, remember, is part of homeland security.
RUSH: That’s almost a full minute that Chris Matthews did not interrupt, didn’t say anything. He was back on his heels, because he doesn’t hear this. You have to understand, folks, the reason that you know that this is so powerful, is Matthews doesn’t hear this. This is the first time he’s heard any of this. He don’t know that Louisiana got more money under Bush than in Clinton. Even though it’s in the papers, it’s not in the papers he reads. It’s not in the networks he watches, but more importantly the people he talks to. These people are of a clique, you know? They’re a group and they hang around with each other and they have their template, and they have their operating premise and that’s all they talk about, and they add on, and they pile on, and they try to outdo one another and they get caught up in this template and reality is the thing that suffers, reality is the casualty. I told you last week the media creates its own reality, and here we have Peter King saying the same thing. You’re distorting reality, and I guarantee you, this was the first time Chris Matthews heard any of this. He really thinks that the people trust the media. He really believes, he thinks they’re doing the greatest job they’ve ever done since Watergate, this is what they think, and about that, Peter King had some comments. Matthews says, “Well, weren’t you dismayed that the president didn’t watch television for all those 48 hours? That he had to be shown a picture of what we’d all been watching? One of the reasons that these people are volunteering is because of what they saw on television. I’m very proud of the media the past couple of weeks. We’re not always perfect, but I gotta tell you something. The latest polling shows almost 80% of the American people say the media’s done a fabulous job in handling this hurricane, because it’s the pictures that people have seen on TV in their homes that alerted them to this tragedy and maybe to a large extent pushed the politicians to move a little faster.”
KING: No, the fact is, Chris, you guys are giving yourself so much credit. You guys dwell in self congratulation. The fact is the media shots were distorted —
MATTHEWS (interrupting): No, it’s rare that we have anything to congratulate. Let me ask you about this. Let’s get back to —
KING: Chris, you won’t give me a chance to answer the question. Just because the president doesn’t watch you on television doesn’t mean he’s not doing his job. You know, Franklin Roosevelt wasn’t hired to listen to radio accounts of D-Day. He was hired to do a job, and the president can do his job without having to listen to Chris Matthews or Andrea Mitchell or Tim Russert or any of the others. He is doing his job.
RUSH: Amen! It’s about time. The president doesn’t watch you so he doesn’t know what’s going on. That’s the mind-set. Now, this is two days in a row — yesterday the New Orleans Times-Picayune and today the LA Times — two days in a row that we have massively long stories about the distortions of reality that came out of television reporting in New Orleans, massively long stories about all of the things that were wrong. This is a media scandal, folks, and this is the second day that we’ve had the reports and the facts out there, and you still haven’t seen one correction as King noted. They still haven’t done the story: “Hey, you know what? Ten thousand people didn’t die. It’s a much better outcome than what was expected,” because that’s not the template. The news cycle is: “This was devastation. This was horrible. This was worse than 9/11, and Bush caused it, and it’s racism because Bush is a Republican,” and they’re not going to let go of that, and I can take you through the stacks of stuff today to provide further evidence of that for you. Here’s just a little bit from the LA Times story today. Headline: “Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy — Rumors supplanted accurate information, media magnified the problem, rapes, violence, and estimates of the dead were wrong.” Now, you might be saying, “What’s going on with the LA Times?” Here’s what’s going on with the LA Times: They are losing circulation fast. They got rid of Kinsley who was running their editorial page. He was not even living there. He was living in Seattle running the LA Times editorial page. So they finally got rid of Kinsley. This is the Tribune company that owns this paper. They’re losing circulation; they’re losing advertising. They got to do something.
So there may be some reason in that explanation as to why the Times decides to run the story here, because it is by two of their staff writers: Susannah Rosenblatt and James Rainey. “Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane. The National Guard spokesman’s accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans’ main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports. ‘It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done,’ Bush said Monday of the Superdome. His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center. The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified ‘rapes,’ and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of ‘scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans’ top officials.’ Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on ‘Oprah’ three weeks ago of people ‘in that frickin’ Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people.'”
We had, who was it, Randall Robinson saying that black people being forced to eat the corpses of the dead because Bush hadn’t gotten food in there to them. “Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor. The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling ? that an infant’s body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement. ‘It doesn’t take anything to start a rumor around here,’ Louisiana National Guard 2nd Lt. Lance Cagnolatti said at the height of the Superdome relief effort. ‘There’s 20,000 people in here. Think when you were in high school. You whisper something in someone’s ear. By the end of the day, everyone in school knows the rumor ? and the rumor isn’t the same thing it was when you started it.'” Well, I thought that there was insurance against something like this. It was called “journalism.” I thought that journalism… What do I hear from journalists about, say, Drudge or the blogs?
“Well, there’s no filter.” What have they said about me from day one? “Well, there’s no filter. You know, Limbaugh, you just can’t trust what he says. All he does is make things up. If it fits his world view, he utters them.”
This has been the criticism of me from the get-go with these people — same thing with Matt Drudge, same thing with the bloggers.
“There’s no filter!”
Well, where was the filter here? Why did the media simply accept these rumors as true? There’s an answer to that. They wanted it to be true, just like Dan Rather wanted Bill Burkett’s memos to be real, just like they wanted the National Guard story of George W. Bush’s abandonment to be real. They wanted this to be true. They wanted this disaster. They wanted these dead bodies. They wanted the sharks swimming in the streets of the business district. They wanted these rapes. They wanted it. It made for a better story at the least, and at the worst it allowed them to continue in their news cycle: “that Bush is incompetent, that Bush is a racist, that Republicans are pigs, and that they don’t care,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and, by the way, it wasn’t just one network. It was all these networks and it was Oprah Winfrey. I mean, Oprah was spouting a lot of this stuff herself with her shows from down there. The media did a fabulous job of handling the hurricane? What did they do? We got stories from people like Shepard Smith and Geraldo — and, you know, God love these people, but they’re down there and they’re saying, “Oh, this is the end of the world! It’s the end of the world! Oh! Oh! Oh! This is never going to be the same,” and, of course, when you look at the pictures of a flooded city and add what you think is truth being told to you by the anchors at CNN and by the reporters at CNN and so forth, and then we got treated to stories from media watchdog groups telling us which reporters were making a name for themselves, and which were going to be the stars for the rest of their careers based on all this.
So the media was watching itself, analyzing itself, picking its own stars, telling us who had done the best job. It’s all a myth. It was all distorted. It was all an alternative, phony reality. Now, to Geraldo Rivera’s credit, the New York Times sandbagged Geraldo Rivera, and he has been demanding an apology for the last two or three weeks and finally officially — well, I don’t think it was official but he got one. The New York Times has this babe Alessandra Staley who writes the TV story. She wrote a piece saying that she had seen or had been told or the video of it showed that Geraldo had nudged National Guard rescuers out of the way so he personally could be seen rescuing a woman and her child, something like this, for his own show, for his own Fox cameras, and he took the video to anybody who would look at it and say, “Can you see where I did this? I got out of the way. I did not impose myself on the story.” Finally the New York Times ombudsman had to write a piece, “The Times needs to apology for this. They need to correct this, because Geraldo Rivera is right.” So even members of the media were impacted by the irresponsibility of other members of the media in this story. This is a full-fledged scandal from top to bottom, and two days in a row now we’ve got the facts about the story and yet when you turn on the television to watch what’s going on down in New Orleans, you still think that 10,000 people died, that the city is doomed, it’s over; it’s finished. All those horror stories are still being allowed to live and survive and thrive — and, by the way, this is not the only example. This is just the most recent and perhaps a glaring one. But it’s as phony as the fact that liberal radio networks are succeeding. They aren’t. Nobody listens. They’re having to beg their listeners now for money because they’re commercial failures and yet the media built all these networks up to be the Second Coming. “Oh, wow, we finally got somebody to take on Limbaugh,” but now that you can’t hear them and now that they can’t make money and now that they’re having to beg their listeners like NPR does for money, you get a tote bag, yip yip yip yip yahoo! It’s probably a paper bag you can put on your face to hide the fact you listen to the damn thing, but we can’t get one story about that failure, not one. I’m telling you, folks, there is no mass respect for the mainstream media in this country. Their numbers are down. Journalists as you know, don’t rank much higher than politicians or any other job that’s ranked low in public reputation.