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Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated - 6 bodies found at Dome; 4 at Convention Center
September 27, 2005 1:17 PM   Subscribe

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying. The real total was six, Beron said. Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the turning over of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice. State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been killed inside. At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said health and law enforcement officials.
Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated
posted by y2karl (48 comments total)

 
You mean the media reported rumors as fact? That's never happened before, has it? It couldn't have been because all the news agencies were competing for rubberneckers.

The question I'd like to have answered is what's going to be done about the news reporting rumors as facts? How does Big Media get fixed?
posted by fenriq at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2005


Did any actual aircraft get shot at?
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2005


Flood Myths
posted by destro at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2005


Someone here was saying, and I'm sorry I've forgotten who it was, something to the effect of: "Hey, you know, what kind of idiot would shoot at rescue helicopters? Maybe they're just shooting to try to get attention?"

Weren't quite a number of rescue attempts stopped because of this mistake? If so, people died from a very poor decision.

Also makes you wonder very much about the paramilitary whackjobs who were boasting about 'returning fire'. Really makes you wonder if they made it up so they could do some shootin'.

"Look out! It's coming right at us!"
posted by Malor at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2005


Charmaine Neville said that some young men she was with finally resorted, after several days of being passed over, to firing guns in an attempt to attract attention.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2005


Just don't hit the Patrick Duffy leg.
posted by wakko at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2005


I hold Bush responsible for the lack of chaos.
posted by techgnollogic at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2005


In related news, Michael Brown shits all over everyone again.
posted by wakko at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2005


Am I the only one who gets a "Print..." dialog when clicking on the link in the post?
posted by knave at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2005


Or, the chaos discrepancy, to be more precise. All Bush's fault.
posted by techgnollogic at 1:41 PM on September 27, 2005


Am I the only one who gets a "Print..." dialog when clicking on the link in the post?

You are not.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:41 PM on September 27, 2005


See? I told you it wasn't that bad. Those people from the 9th Ward should be grateful, their lives have done nothing but improve over the last three weeks. I mean come on, it was only a stack of 6 bodies, it's not like dozens here, and only one was an overdose and one a murder!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:45 PM on September 27, 2005


There's a great blog post out there about cognitive dissonence and how major events often are accompanied by false rumors that spread via the opposition.

I watched about 10 minutes of Fox News during the flooding to see their take and I heard the words "thugs" and "looters" so many times that it was clear the commentators wanted the audience to equate "all minorities left behind" with "criminals" so they could feel better about the poor local and federal response as well as not feel any guilt about not donating.
posted by mathowie at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2005


I got it too, and just hit cancel. Using Firefox here.
posted by Malor at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2005


"In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, [Police Chief Eddie]Compass reported rapes of 'babies,' and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of 'hundreds of armed gang members' killing and raping people inside the Dome. Unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies, 'we couldn't count.'"

I suspect that his hyperbole factored into his "retirement" -- which was announced this afternoon.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on September 27, 2005


it was clear the commentators wanted the audience to. . .not feel any guilt about not donating

what the fuck? You believe Fox News wanted to discourage donating to Katrina relief, and you're telling us about cognitive dissonance?
posted by techgnollogic at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2005


Perhaps FEMA is hiding the body count?
posted by caddis at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2005


Oh man, that's an awesome title.
posted by knave at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2005


*wonders if this post is a ploy by the gangs of black looters roaming the streets to tease mr serenity out of his house*
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2005


techgnollogic: discourage aid != assuage guilt

One helps no one, the other is great for business and not only eminently plausible, bloody obvious if you have been paying any attention to the news.

The portrayal of NOLA citizens on Fox was markedly different than that of other networks.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2005


Can you blame the Fox commentators for being racist? If all you did all day was watch Fox television you'd be a racist too! Michael Moore hit the nail on the head in 'Bowling for Columbine'. It's the fuckin tv man. We are the most violent society in the world because of one simple phrase: "If if bleeds it leads".
posted by any major dude at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2005


Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy

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."

Follow-up reporting has discredited reports of a 7-year-old being raped and murdered at the Superdome, roving bands of armed gang members attacking the helpless, and dozens of bodies being shoved into a freezer at the Convention Center.

Hyperbolic reporting spread through much of the media.

posted by dhoyt at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2005


like I always say, in particular for the new readers, , www.democracynow.or, the fairest and most honest reporting around.
posted by wheelieman at 2:25 PM on September 27, 2005


democracynow.ORG i mean
posted by wheelieman at 2:26 PM on September 27, 2005


y2karl, always love your posts but I have to admit, this is the first I recall being non-Iraq related.

y2karl - He banged a different drum today.
posted by AspectRatio at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2005


deflection != assuaged guilt either. Hyperbole or not, people died, the situation was bad and bungled. People sat for days with no help. Charity hospital had to move into the parking garage because they were over run with looters. Some health workers actually had to euthanize patients. Somebody screwed up and I'd wager that the media blitz on how overblown the problem was is coming not only from the same folks that are to blame but also the same ones that supposedly already took the blame (though nothing has come of that).

So, yes, 200 turned out to be 10. How many deaths officially turns a relief effort into a cluster fuck? How does it change the numbers if the dead are poor and black? 3/5?
posted by Pollomacho at 2:38 PM on September 27, 2005


I missed all the hysteria.
Man, I gotta watch more Fox.

"It's not just Newspeak, it's Fox Newspeak!"
-
posted by INFOHAZARD at 2:44 PM on September 27, 2005


In an age of mobile phones, digital cameras, and blogs, we should be getting the most accurate, honest coverage there's ever been of this kind of disaster. In fact, we must be.

And yet, apparently, the coverage was highly subjective, frequently exaggerated, and molded to fit the politics of different news vendors.

This suggests a few questions about the accuracy of coverage of previous disasters. It particularly suggests, as certain historians have been arguing for a long time now, that our mainstream news sources are far less factual, and far more politically and editorially biased, than they claim to be.
posted by cleardawn at 2:46 PM on September 27, 2005


So, uh, I guess those sappers who blew the levees were fake, too?
posted by fixedgear at 2:46 PM on September 27, 2005


Superdome, Convention Center violence reports exaggerated: newspapers. AFP story on reports from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (September 26) and the Los Angeles Times (September 27).
posted by russilwvong at 2:57 PM on September 27, 2005


Aspectratio - you mean you missed y2karl's incredible Dark was the Night blues post?
posted by jasper411 at 3:05 PM on September 27, 2005


I must imagined hearing all those reports on NPR then too. And all those black people reporting those stories must have been CIA operatives wearing shoepolish on their face, right?
posted by keswick at 3:24 PM on September 27, 2005


Frankly anyone who's ever been told an urban legend as being fact -- that'll probably be most of us -- can't have taken the direst reports all that seriously.

Why *do* people report seeing stuff they can't possibly have seen? That's an interesting question.
posted by clevershark at 3:25 PM on September 27, 2005


mathowie is right on, and now you have the right wing bloggers trying to spin this exaggerated story to their advantage.
posted by missmerrymack at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2005


Err, meant to say spin this story about the exaggeration to their advantage.
posted by missmerrymack at 3:29 PM on September 27, 2005


Ooh, and I forgot to give props to destro. My bad.
posted by y2karl at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2005


In an age of mobile phones, digital cameras, and blogs, we should be getting the most accurate, honest coverage there's ever been of this kind of disaster. In fact, we must be.

Problem is that power was out (and still is in many areas along the Gulf Coast), mobile phone coverage was down (and continues to be so in some areas) and only satellite phones worked.
posted by ericb at 3:51 PM on September 27, 2005


I hope people don't forget that there's still plenty of outrage to go around that was accurately reported.
posted by footnote at 3:58 PM on September 27, 2005


Churches to reimburse followers.

[/fantasy]
posted by srboisvert at 4:10 PM on September 27, 2005


Actually, missmerry, that should be "respin this story to their advantage." It had already been spun once.

As I said in a previous thread, I watched both CNN and FoxNews after Katrina and figured the truth lay somewhere in between. I still think that.
posted by mischief at 4:15 PM on September 27, 2005


certain historians have been arguing for a long time now, that our mainstream news sources are far less factual, and far more politically and editorially biased, than they claim to be.


Cleardawn, considering all the anti-Bush wailing that went on regarding this mess, would that mean the MSM would be considered by those historians to have a Liberal bias?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:54 PM on September 27, 2005


I want to point out that I was right when I pointed out that the Broussard story about his colleague's poor drowning mother didn't sound right (and was essentially told I was heartless).

But it sure played wonderfully on TV for two days.

As I said, though, each of the stories of horrible things doesn't have to be true for it to still be a horribly screwed up situation. The media needs to examine itself and figure out why it is so prone to exaggeration and error at such times, but that doesn't mean the event suddently wasn't a big clusterfuck.
posted by obfusciatrist at 5:04 PM on September 27, 2005


We saw more bodies on TV than this lined up outside the convention center. Knowing that, where did those go? Why don't they count with the center dead? And what is this mortician on about?

There are interests at work that would want the final counts to skew lower. We might have gotten the truth before and might not have. I think it's a safe bet that what we here now is filtered for our consumption with certainty.
posted by shagoth at 5:55 PM on September 27, 2005


uncanny-hengeman, in this case, I'd say, not so much a Liberal bias, as a sensationalist bias. Sensations and scandals increase audience. Recall that Fox News (the most blatantly pro-Bush channel by far) pumped out some of the most shocked and outraged (and, evidently, inaccurate) on-site journalism, for example from the Superdome and the convention centre.

Generally the US Media is either mindlessly pro-Republican, or hovering somewhere between pro-Republican and pro-Democrat.

A few fringe papers, such as the Village Voice, are almost entirely pro-Democrat. They may even run occasional articles by writers marginally to the left of the Democrats, but that's very much a fringe within a fringe, even though that's the strand of thought that most Americans actually agree with. Naturally, Americans don't go out and vote for candidates offering the policies they prefer, since the media (if it even mentions those candidates) points out that they are unelectable - a beautifully self-fulfilling prophecy.

Both Republican and Democratic Parties, of course, are rabidly pro-corporate, run by the rich and for the rich, and are largely anti-Liberal, though the Republicans are stupid enough to be proud of that, while the Democrats make efforts to conceal it, with varying degrees of success.

Hope that helps.
posted by cleardawn at 7:24 PM on September 27, 2005


Thanks, cleardawn!

I yam an Aussie so I don't see any American TV news. And since this is one of my favourite sites (and a favourite source for news, believe it or not) then I find it strange to hear people talk of a conservative bias.

Coz all I see here is a noticeable bias in the opposite direction!

Er. So keep up the good work, Mefites. At least one person is listening to "your side" of the news.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:32 PM on September 27, 2005


> right wing bloggers trying to spin this exaggerated story to their advantage I MEAN spin this story about the exaggeration to their advantage.

Your first take was the right one. Now that this all has turned out to be the road-kill baloney it smelled like at the time, what are we to make, or re-make, of Geraldo and Shepherd Smith and our other favorite "passionate, critical" media reporters, the ones who most "helped the media rediscover its independence?" What, for that matter, are we to make of the ones right here who slurped up all the pumped-up, sexed-up horror stories like nectar and wine? Heh, everything else you believe is bogus too. All it takes is a couple of Distressed Persons Of Poverty talking heads on the tv screen and the mefi readership creams on its collective keyboard.
posted by jfuller at 4:51 AM on September 28, 2005


fixedgear - that looks to me like a repeat of the 'blown levee' myth. Supposedly, the levees were blown during Hurricane Betsy so that the Ninth Ward would flood but the rich folks up near the London canal would be saved. No evidence for that, either. But, when drinking in New Orleans, never get caught saying that you don't believe the rumor.
posted by suckerpunch at 6:50 PM on September 28, 2005


Oh goody, an appropriate thread to post the New York Times' Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans.

I especially liked this part:

For military officials, who flew rescue missions around the city, the reports that people were shooting at helicopters turned out to be mistaken. "We investigated one incident and it turned out to have been shooting on the ground, not at the helicopter," said Maj. Mike Young of the Air Force.
posted by davy at 7:38 AM on September 29, 2005


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