November 19, 2013

NBC News, CNN, Fox News: They’ve all entertained the comparison in one way or another.

The comparison, that is, between President Obama’s fumbled rollout of HealthCare.gov and President Bush’s much-criticized reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Pundits everywhere are asking whether this is the president’s “Katrina moment,” as Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” showed in last night’s program. “It is hard to overstate what a low point this is in Barack Obama’s presidency. Hard to overstate it, but not impossible,” said Stewart in introducing the topic. To properly satirize the notion, Stewart inveighed, “Yes, I believe we’ve all seen the damning photos of the presidential flyover surveying the human suffering of the HealthCare.gov Web site from a safe distance,” he said, in a reference to President George W. Bush’s Katrina survey flight. “I’m not trying to polish the dot-turd that is Healthcare.gov, but comparing the government abdication of responsibility during Hurricane Katrina, the death of hundreds of people, the displacement of hundreds thousands of people is offensive . . . ” Lesson for TV analysts: Sometimes screw-ups don’t invite comparisons to previous screw-ups.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.