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Katrina, USA Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named cafe.jpgI had lunch with an old friend from college, Sandy Wilbourn. We both went to Tulane in the 70s and majored in math. Then a funny thing happened, shortly after I started grad school in computer science at UW-Madison, I ran into Sandy on campus. He was getting a degree in math there. Then a lot of years later I was shopping at Roberts Market in Woodside and saw Sandy. He lived in the Valley too. Earlier this year his uncle left him a house in Berkeley, a few blocks from where I live. Hey it's a good thing we like each other, we seem to be in the same karass. ;->

Anyway, Sandy is the first person I know from New Orleans who I've talked with about my visit after Katrina in 2005. It stirred some memories cause we both know all the same landmarks, where the river bends and where the levees are. But Sands hadn't been back to New Orleans so I told him about places that had been wrecked that, last time he saw them, were fine.

I remembered a lesson from Katrina, the human side of something Krugman keeps saying: once deflation starts it's very hard to pull out.

New Orleans went out of business. One day every business in the city shut down. Some were destroyed, could never return (for example those in neighborhoods that were under water for weeks). But every other business had to restart from a dead stop. It's as if from an economic standpoint the city didn't exist.

The city's recovery will be slow, if it ever fully recovers. Some parts seem likely to come back. The richest parts, the oldest parts, the business parts. But it was all damaged and virtually all the people had gone, and many haven't come back.

Now, huge parts of the world economy have shut down. Some have been shut down for months. Economies don't just start back up once they shut down. They can start back up from a slowdown much more easily. But once a business is gone, it's gone.

Time for heads to roll at Meet The Press Permanent link to this item in the archive.

First some disclaimers, disclosures, etc...

1. I stopped watching the Sunday morning news shows after the election. Now I listen to the podcasts, when I have a chance. I'm fed up with the gotcha crap. Gotcha, gotcha gotcha, that's all they know.

2. I don't like "gotcha" interviewing. I want to hear what the people have to say. I'm very circumspect. I'll form my own opinion on what they say. I know they're all lying and spinning. No one ever gets anyone with a gotcha.

3. Gotchas only interest the reporter and his or her competitors. It's their way of keeping score. No one else cares. And because they all do it all the time, it breeds politicians who are good at saying nothing because the prime gotcha is "I caught you saying something. Gotcha!"

4. Like every other element of the political system this needs reforming. If you believe in the primacy of the network filter (for me it's fading realllly fast) then nothing can get done until they evolve beyond gotcha.

5. Make a list of the reporters who can interview someone and just let them tell their story, help them along as needed, represent the audience, and stop playing the insiders' game. Bill Moyers. Some of the PBS people like Gwen Ifil. Terry Gross except when she's interviewing the terrorist who Obama palled around with. And the guy I like best: Aaron Brown.

Which brings me to the point.

A picture named brown.jpgTom Brokaw was pretty good. He's old enough and senior enough not to really care what the other reporters think of him. Even so, he did play gotcha while he was filling in. But he was the best of the three. Now that he's gone, Stephanopoulos is the best, Gregory is a toad. He's a tiny mind. In way over his head. He says the stupidest gotcha stuff. Here's my favorite -- he pressed Rahm Emanuel to explain how hiring more teachers was going to create jobs. Yeah he actually said that. Several times. Give Rahm some points for not calling him a fucking idiot to his face.

Given a few years maybe Gregory will grow into the job. But we don't have a few years.

If you have to go for another interim host, get Moyers if he'll do it. But if you really want to make news on Sunday morning work, and raise the bar for everyone else, get Aaron Brown to do Meet The Press. Pay him $20 million.

I beg you.


Last update: Thursday, February 05, 2009 at 7:03 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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