Press Censorship in New Orleans

Posted on September 8, 2005

There have been numerous reports that the U.S. government is forbidding the media to take photographs of the dead in New Orleans, that the media is not allowed to go on rescue missions, that the media is being refused access to evacuees and many other instances of censorship. Now NBC's Brian Williams blogs about the harassment of the media by government forces under the direction of FEMA.

"[T]empers are getting hot. While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States."

"At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history."

This is absolutely chilling. Clearly, there is a PR plan in place to convince the American public that not that many people died because of the failure to evacuate and rescue New Orleans residents.