Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Truman crew ambushed by NBC

Well, well, well. Turns out the national media covering the Katrina response got tired of the intergovernmental finger pointing, and started a witch hunt of their own. The first trial: the crew of the USS Harry Truman.

Granted, the Truman -- equipped with a huge hospital -- will likely not be much help at this point because the seriously injured evacuees have already been air transported to regional hospitals. But the ship's deployment is indicative of the "look-at-what-we're-doing" version of public relations that I mentioned in a previous post ...that the Truman's arrival is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Well, watch this to see Ann Curry do a classic ambush interview ...doubt the Truman's captain or public affairs officer saw it coming. I'm surprised NBC chose to fry the US Navy, but I hope the word spreads to the other military services, including my beloved Air Force.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Dance ...or get off the stage

Tho the biggest aid organizations have already collected millions and millions of dollars to finance the rescue/recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast, that support hasn't reached nearly enough people. Part of the problem is that not everyone is reachable, and another part is bureaucratic processes that only work in cubicle culture.

So as we move into Day 5, the crosshairs move to FEMA and the Administration. Talk of mismanagement, bad leadership, sluggish responses and overall poor execution is starting to creep into the media coverage. True or not, these attacks just add another front to FEMA's current crisis and further slow the process.

Rather than dedicate its precious resources to defend itself and its various partnerships, FEMA should start "pointing fingers" and "naming names" of agencies that aren't playing well. Most organizations, including the military branches, understandably want the high-profile roles such as helicopter rescue ops or bussing people out of the abyss; most of what FEMA needs, however, is associated with the unglamorous jobs in command & control, safety, administration and public health.

FEMA should also be able to lean on the Administration for "top cover" too. It's never easy to be the U.S. government's lead agency for any event, but any bureaucratic in-fighting needs to be nipped in the bud, especially in this case -- the priority must be to mitigate the human suffering on the Gulf Coast.

For the thousands who have yet to see signs of help, frustration is well past boiling point. They are the ONLY ones who have the right to complain, criticize and second guess. The rest of us need to count our blessings and do what we can to support FEMA.