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Perfect Storm of Hype: Politicians, the media and the Hurricane Irene apocalypse that never was

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Toby Harnden
London Telegraph
Monday, August 29, 2011

There was almost palpable disappointment among the TV big guns rolled out for the occasion when Irene was downgraded to a mere ‘tropical storm”. In New York city, CNN’s silver-haired Anderson Cooper, more usually seen in a tight t-shirt in a famine or war zone, was clad in what one wag dubbed “disaster casual”.

He looked crestfallen and fell briefly silent when a weatherwoman told him that the rain was not going to get any worse. “Wow, because this isn’t so bad,” he said. “It’s an annoying rain but it isn’t even a sideways rain.”

Then came the press conferences from the politicians, with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey insisting that his evacuation of the Jersey Shore was “a pre-emptive measure that I am confident saved lives” and there could still be damage worth “tens of billions” of dollars.

Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security chief, declared that there was “a ways to go with Irene” but “with the evacuations and other precautions taken we have dramatically decreased the risk to life”. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York seemed thoroughly delighted with himself, as if he personally had calmed the waters and stifled the winds.

The truth is that the dire warning beforehand suited both politicians and journalists. Just as with the minor earthquake that shook the east coast last week causing no loss of life and virtually no damage, Irene became a huge story because it was where the media lived.

Full story here.

This article was posted: Monday, August 29, 2011 at 1:52 am





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