The Bow Ramp

Saturday, September 03, 2005

An Open Letter to Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera

Guys, get a grip. I was witness to your respective meltdowns on Fox News yesterday. I understand that you are witnessing heart-rending scenes and your reactions are compounded by your own fatigue. That said, you guys went completely off the deep end.
Wait! Don't get defensive just yet. Although I am far away from this particular disaster, I have my own personal experience as a witness to massive flooding and death/destruction in an urban environment. I know where you are coming from. Of course, back then, we didn't have 24/7 news channels and satellite feeds so it wasn’t plastered all over millions of TVs for days on end. In the sixties, a massive disaster in Hong Kong got maybe 30 seconds on the network evening news back home in the U.S.
You guys are quick to demand that “someone” do something, but have either of you ever had to plan a response to something like this? Unless you can say yes to that question, you are at the same level as some sports fan with his Monday morning quarterbacking. It is one thing for Fox News to send a few broadcasters to the disaster area on short notice. It is an entirely different thing to send in sufficient support to immediately aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims when the infrastructure is destroyed. Why didn’t you two help all those people? Because you didn’t have the wherewithal to help them all, of course. Why didn’t you help just one or two people? Maybe you did and didn’t report it. If so, I applaud you.
The point I want to make is that when disaster strikes on such a massive scale, you cannot save everyone. You save the ones you can and you frequently have to make decisions based on incomplete or incorrect information.
Shep. You wanted to know why the people with you weren’t allowed to cross the bridge. Try putting yourself in the shoes of the on scene commander. What are the conditions just across the bridge? Are the people on the West side of the bridge in any significant way better able to support the victims on the East side? Are you in a position to screen everyone who wants to cross the bridge so that criminals don’t start running amuck over there too? Can you control the people crossing the bridge so that they do not impede the flow of aid coming into the city? It is, after all, the only available route into the city. Will these people merely be jumping from the frying pan into the fire? If you Shep, by being on the scene, had a better appreciation of all of these factors (and more); why didn’t you use the communications channels that you and Fox News have to get in touch with the appropriate authorities and appraise them of the situation?
Apparently, one of the real bottlenecks to more rapid and effective response was the poor communications into and out of the disaster areas. What did Fox and the other networks do to improve those communications? You had satellite trucks, satellite phones, radios, and personnel on scene. Did you use any of those assets for anything other than your own purposes? If so, congratulations. If not, STFU. Heroes are the ones who do what they can; not the ones who whine about what others aren’t doing!

The above rant is based upon lots of conjecture and few real facts. If you guys are upset because I have mischaracterized your efforts based on insufficient information; well now you know how the authorities feel about you.

Update: Thanks for the link from Where I Stand.