05/08/2010 06:33 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Katrina and the Waves of Fear

As an adopted New Orleanian, I sat glued to the news channels as the only way of knowing what was happening to my residence, my friends, and my favorite city. Thankfully, nature was kinder to New Orleans than the news channels, particularly Fox. At approximately 7:50 am PDT Monday, an offscreen Fox anchor declared that one of New Orleans' levees had been breached. Had New Orleans' levee system failed, that presaged very serious flooding for the city.

However, just ten minutes earlier on CNN, a FEMA official stated plainly that the levee system appeared to be holding, and several hours later this Reuters report pinpointed the only levee break as occurring in St. Bernard Parish, which is not New Orleans.

Add to the out-of-towners getting locations wrong: John Zarella on CNN, filing a report from what both anchor Daryn Kagan and he identified as the French Quarter, but which was visibly coming from the Central Business District, across Canal Street. And Zarella himself identified the street he was standing on as Common St (check Google Maps if you think that's in the Quarter). Had Kagan not been so eager to tout "our ftp technology" as the way Zarella got his feed to Atlanta, she might have had the opportunity to check the location.

But, scaring out of towners about damage to a part of New Orleans they've heard of (no breasts are bared in the CBD, after all) was a higher priority for much of the past two days for the news channels, though MSNBC played it straighter most of the time. Although, after network execs check out their ratings bump thanks to Rita Cosby's new program, that might not last long.