"Is it too much to ask for Russert to just once have shown the same passion -- or even hint of outrage -- when interviewing Vice President Dick Cheney about the administration's botched occupation of Iraq in which nearly 2,000 Americans have died? ("How could the president be so wrong, so misinformed?" Russert could have demanded.) Imagine if the press had shown a glimmer of its newfound truth-telling fervor while pursuing the WMD fiasco or uncovering the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth hoax last year, or half a dozen lesser episodes in which the Bush White House mugged the truth and the press knew it but then looked away.
It's hard to decide which is more troubling: that it took the national press corps five years to summon up enough courage to report, without apology, that what the Bush administration says and does are often two different things, or that it took the sight of bodies floating facedown in the streets of New Orleans to trigger a change in the press's behavior.
What's more, as observers have noted, the flashes of media anger over Katrina began to flare up only late last week, several days after the storm hit. Indeed, the media was initially in its patented hands-off crouch when faced with the possibility of criticizing the Bush administration. If the New Orleans levees had held and Katrina had killed only a dozen or two poor people and made a mess of the Southern city, and the administration had responded with the same type of lackluster relief, odds are the press would have issued the White House yet another free pass."