How the Beltway Press (Not Rush Limbaugh) Launched "Obama's Katrina"

07/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's review the blame game with regards to the historic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Naturally, AM talker turned-emergency response expert Rush Limbaugh accused the president of bungling the clean up and now facing his own Hurricane Katrina-like crisis of confidence. Of course, Fox News, serving its role as the Opposition Party, trumpeted the allegation. (From Fox Nation: "Heckuva job? Obama scrambling after week-old spill.") And yes, there was something deeply ironic about right-wing, government critics lamenting that the government didn't do more, when the same haters have been screaming for sixteen months that the government already does too much.

You likely know all that. But here's what you didn't know -- it was mostly the mainstream media that concocted the absurd "Obama's Katrina" claim in the first place, and then helped actively push it. Journalists did it by pointing to mostly faceless, imaginary "critics" of the Obama administration in order to float the phony storyline.

Reporters and pundits last week couldn't find independent experts on disaster or emergency response who criticized the government's actions in the Gulf of Mexico. Reporters and pundits couldn't even find Republican members of Congress to blast Obama and his team. So instead, the press just decided to do that on its own and pretend it was news.

So here's my admission: I got it wrong last week when I wrote that the "Obama's Katrina" narrative was a perfect example of how conservative, GOP Noise Machine elements shape the mainstream media's take on the news.

I got it wrong because after going back and looking at more of the coverage of the politics of the oil spill, it's now clear that in this disturbing case it was the Beltway press that hatched the bogus "Obama's Katrina" meme, and then served up on a platter to the appreciative Noise Machine, which happily amplified it. In this instance, the sloppy misinformation campaign was concocted not by feral, Obama Derangement Syndrome bloggers, but by corporate journalists working from some of the biggest names in the news business: New York Times, the AP, ABC and CBS.

Journalists had virtually no factual foundation upon which to build the "Obama's Katrina" story. But that didn't seem to stop many.

Read the full Media Matters column here.

This Blogger's Books and Other Items from...