Did Gustav or deserting TV anchors hobble the RNC?
"Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."
Conservative media conspiracy theorists may rail about liberal bias, but it became obvious Sunday that the approaching Hurricane Gustav was not going to allow Republicans the same 15,000-journalist bath of publicity the Democrats got last week.
Beginning at noon Sunday, I started getting e-mails indicating the big network anchors would be headed to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to see whether Gustav would bring a reprise of Hurricane Katrina nearly three years to the day after the Republican-led federal government's disastrous response shocked the world.
That Gustav has pulled the tablecloth from under the GOP convention on this sad anniversary is a bit of karma way too eerie to contemplate. Gulf Coast residents can at least console themselves with the knowledge that every Republican politician in the country has a vested interest in making sure the response to Gustav wipes the memory of Katrina from our collective consciousness.
CBS was first to announce that Katie Couric would be headed to the Gulf Coast for her evening newscast, e-mailing journalists at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday. ABC and NBC followed a few hours later, announcing that Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams would be headed to New Orleans as well.
By 4 p.m. Sunday, John McCain was announcing that Monday's GOP convention activities would essentially be canceled, to avoid juxtaposing the infomercial of a modern political convention with scenes of storm-swept damage in the wake of Gustav. Even convention diehard Jim Lehrer threw in the towel at that point, choosing to helm PBS's Gustav coverage from Washington D.C. today.
Each network has their political journalism stars back in St. Paul: George Stephanopoulos for ABC, Bob Schieffer for CBS and Tom Brokaw for NBC. But increasingly, it seems the world's attention will fall on the other side of the country, as we all hold our breath and hope, improbably, that all the local, state and national officials who screwed up the first time will handle this emergency better the second time around.