Brownie vs. "CNN Effect"

brownie_n_dubya.jpgFEMA chief Michael Brown provided one of the most maddening moments in the bungled response to Katrina when he announced that he had "just learned" that hurricane victims were trapped at the New Orleans convention center -- a full day after reporters starting screaming about the hellish conditions there.Why didn't "Brownie" know what was obvious to the average cable news couch potato? the new issue of Aviation Week provides a clue.

In the Northcom [U.S. military's Northern Command] operations center, TV coverage of disaster zones was closely monitored, prompting the dispatch of relief missions prior to the receipt of official reports or requests. During past wargames, FEMA and other agencies have been reluctant to be drawn into "the 'CNN effect' and instead rely on standard National Response Plan reporting channels, because they were afraid they'd be sucked down a rat hole," says the retired officer. Players were concerned that critical resources could be diverted by low-priority regions, only because those areas were getting media attention.
THERE'S MORE: If you haven't been checking out Katherine Cramer's site over the last two weeks, you're missing out. She's using Google's archive satellite pics to help folks figure out if their houses are safe. She's investigating the guns-for-hire that've been sent into New Orleans. And she even found some maps detailing the Army Corps of Engineers' repairs of the Big Easy's levees.AND MORE: Speaking of Brownie, he just resigned.
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