EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Bobby Jindal and the 75 Miles Meme
The Worst Fact-Checking In The World
“During Hurricane Katrina, I and former Sheriff Harry Lee were with (then Congressman) Bobby Jindal more than anybody else from the federal government. He didn’t wait for cameras or permission — he was boots on the ground, and anyone that disputes that obviously wasn’t in Louisiana.” — Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, Democrat
Based overwhelmingly on two things – the musings of a Daily Kos diarist and a few Nexis searches that didn’t turn up results (as we all remember, the media got more stories wrong than right when reporting in the heat of the moment in the midst of Katrina) – TPMMuckraker and The Washington Monthly conclude that Governor Bobby Jindal is a liar. Not surprisingly, Keith Olbermann parroted this accusation on national television, apparently without doing any research of his own to check the story. Does NBC have lawyers?
At TPM and TWM, leftist activist pseudo-journalists like Zachary Roth are accusing Gov. Jindal of lying about a situation where he was in the room with two other people, where one of the people (Bobby’s Chief of Staff) backs up his story, and the other person (famed Sheriff Harry Lee, a controversial but beloved figure) is sadly dead.
They couldn’t be bothered to do any actual research on this thing – nah, Nexis searches that don’t turn up results are plenty of basis for such an extreme accusation of rank falsehood.
They couldn’t be troubled to place calls to Sheriff Jack Stephens, to Col. John Fortunato, or to Sheriff Newell Normand (who worked under Lee before ultimately replacing him). They couldn’t be troubled to take five minutes to check their stories. Instead, they felt they could write things like the following, which just beggars the imagination for anyone who was on the ground:
According to numerous reports, Harry Lee did not leave the affected area of New Orleans during the crisis. But there is no reported evidence of Jindal having set foot in the area during the period when people were still stranded on roofs — which, based on a review of news stories from the time, was only until September 3 at the very latest. Indeed, the evidence strongly suggests he did not…
No reported evidence. I did a Nexis search! They taught me how at school!
Well, Mr. Zachary Roth, leftist activist posing as a journalist, I strongly suggest you employ the inventive new idea of talking to people who were actually THERE. Because they’ll tell you the same thing: that Bobby Jindal met with them in person on the ground in the days and weeks following the storm (some of them multiple times), that he was active on site in all three areas helping people deal with ridiculous bureaucratic red tape, and that the reason you may not have heard about these stories before is that unlike people like Governor Blanco, he was less interested in holding press conferences than he was in saving lives and helping first responders do their jobs.
That also happens to be the reason why in 2007, so many of these local Democrat officials crossed party lines to endorse Bobby. Like the 65-member Louisiana Sheriffs Association, who endorsed him for governor even though all but seven of them are Democrats, even though they had endorsed his opponent four years earlier. Because regardless of party, he was the Congressman who did the most. Contrast that with the Democratic Congressman who commandeered scarce National Guard resources to spirit incriminating evidence out of his house.
For the leftists, even when their own commenters correct them, and pointed out that Bobby Jindal was the one Congressman who was on the ground, actively helping people who needed it in the Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard parishes, they just shout them down or conclude that well, in one of these times he recites a story, he has to be lying about something.
Mr. Roth even suggests that the Jindal story is untrustworthy because he “has never told this story” before. There are thousands of stories like this from the overwhelming days in the wake of that storm. You can read some more of them in this speech Jindal gave. Or as I did, you can sit down with him for an evening and just listen to hundreds of these situations where he helped Louisiana citizens cut through FEMA’s red tape.
That’s a lot of material. Why don’t you get to work calling them all lies?
The truth is, this should be a teachable moment for liberal bloggers who like to pretend they’re members of the media – all the attention with none of the responsibility – desperate to catch a Republican in a lie when they have no knowledge of the situation. I’d ask them to retract their stories until they get a real person on the phone who was there who says “Bobby Jindal was 75 miles away,” but they don’t do retractions. That’s one of the liberties they have.
But here’s a tip: next time you want to pretend to be a gumshoe journalist, try picking up a phone and talking to the people who were there.