2000 Unused School Buses, 2000 School Buses, 2000 Unused School Buses... (or not)
Every now and again, we like to remind BRAD BLOG readers how the wingnuts --- from the "mainstream" Washington Times to the top nutcase blogs like "Little Green Footballs" and "Powerline Blog" to the expected spinners at Fox "News" --- love to grab onto a lie, avoid bothering to check a single fact, and shove it down America's throat as if it had any basis in reality. Which all results in the actual mainstream corporate media like ABC and CNN repeating the horseshit as if it was actually true.
Case in point, courtesy of Media Matters (via this morning's Al Franken show), is the falsehood repeated over and over again in the wingnut media and beyond about the "2000 school buses" that could have been used to evacuate everyone in New Orleans who needed evacuation, but sat instead in a parking lot unused.
Turns out, the city of New Orleans actually owns only 324 school buses, 70 of which are broken down (according to September 5, 2003, article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune) plus another 364 city owned public transit RTA buses. Bringing the total available fleet in New Orleans to less than 700. The Times-Picayune reported on July 8 in an article headlined "RTA buses would be used for evacuation: But plan still falls far short of needs" that "Even if the entire fleet was used, the buses would carry only about 22,000 people out of the city --- far short of the 134,000 people estimated to be without cars in a recent University of New Orleans study."
No excuses here for those available buses which were not being used (Mayor Ray Nagin has claimed they didn't have enough drivers for them, but we haven't verified that one way or another at this time.) Nonetheless, the wingnuts repeated the nonsense about "2000 unused school buses" over and over again as if it was based in reality.
So where did the wingnuts version of "reality" begin this time? The story apparently began (little surprise) when it was used in a Sep. 6 column by Washington Times managing editor-and-liar-in-chief, Wesley Pruden. He
wrote instructed followers to say:
Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a "mandatory" evacuation a day late, but kept the city's 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground.
That claim was quickly and unsurprisingly linked by the popular wingnut blogs Power Line and Little Green Footballs, both of whom have shown an utter inability, day after day, month after month, year after year, to check a single fact, or do anything other than repeat one Republican talking point after another. Hence, they are both very popular amongst the faith-based Bush dead-ender crowd. That's what they're paid for.
Of course, Sean Hannity then raced to the airwaves that same evening to dutifully repeat the misinformation to Fox "News" viewers on Hannity & Colmes:
The next night on Hannity & Colmes, Newt Gingrich was called upon to continue spreading the misinfo:
GINGRICH: No. The fact --- the fact is there were more than enough buses to, in a methodical, orderly way, help every poor person in New Orleans leave the city. And the mayor and the city failed to use the buses that existed and failed to help people in an orderly way.
In fact, the number of buses required to evacuate the city's approximately 100,000 elderly and disabled, according to the New York Times on Sep. 4, was 2,000, but as their article responsibly noted, that 2,000 number was "far more than New Orleans possessed."
Never mind responsibility and reality, though. Back to the wingnuts and the so-called myth of the "Liberal Media".
By last Sunday, Sep 11, the lie had become mainstream "reality" as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's national security writer Jack Kelly wondered:
[W]hy weren't the roughly 2,000 municipal and school buses in New Orleans utilized to take people out of the city before Katrina struck?"
...And then the deed was finally done --- as Wingnut Horseshit becomes Conventional Wisdom --- on last Sunday morning's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Gingrich was the guest, but it was "Liberal Media" elitist, Stephanopolous who made certain the lie got out to all of America across the ABC Television Network:
Not bad for a week's work. Mr. Rove and his America-Hating friends have certainly earned their pay check over the past week.
Kudos to Media Matters for their detailed tracking of all of this. And if you stop by over there (where all the audio and video is also available) be sure to check out how the Fox and Friends wingnuts also keep spinning the nonsense of when Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency and those "Liberals" at CBS who repeated it thereafter, how the entire media gave a free pass to Bush's "dodged a bullet" claim about the levees, how O'Reilly is spinning numbers to trick America into believing that Bush is better on poverty than Clinton was, and oh, so many documented, out and out Right Wing lies we'd need about 2,000 unused school buses full of bloggers to report them all.