Meyer's Inbox: Nix The Blame Game

New Orleans Police and volunteers use boats to rescue residents from a flooded neighborhood on the east side of New Orleans, Wednesdayy, Aug. 31, 2005. Hurricane Katrina left much of the city under water. Officials called for a mandatory evacuation of the city, but many resident remained in the city and had to be rescued from flooded homes and hotels. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Like to read other people's mail? Well, have at it. The Against the Grain inbox is open for your perusal. And by the way, this is not a blog.

Scapegoats Can Wait

OK, so my instincts are way off. I thought for sure this piece would be a hate-mail generator. It wasn't at all. In fact I received way more nice e-mails than I'm used to. My hunch is that despite the fact that I often write about often how different politicized and partisan people are from the majority of us, I forgot about that when I began to write the column. Most people are much more concerned about helping than blaming. And they don't really buy the line the blaming and investigating helps for the next time. So very sincerely this time, thanks for all the e-mail.

Also, thanks for all the concern about my job. It never struck me that this column was even remotely "conservative" or "liberal" but many readers seemed morally certain that the mysterious uber-bosses at CBS wouldn't like the piece. Guess what. Everything is just dandy.

Good article. As a Republican, I can't believe you actually work for CBS. Maybe there is some common sense in the main stream media after all? I am truly sick of the constant politicizing of anything and everything.
Joan Santos

Thank you. You wrote what I feel.

I would include most media members to the embarrassing political class. Too many are focusing on the sniping instead of the efforts to relieve suffering. They could be bringing us together, focusing our efforts on the many ways to help.

I am so sorry that political people and media members do not revere their roles more.
Marcella Wilson, Maple Park, IL

I was so pleased to see this reasonable article from CBS. The partisan sniping has gotten way out of hand. I can only hope that this message gets through to those who need to hear it. Certainly there were mistakes at many levels, but the idea that they were intentional is unsubstantiated at best and destructive in all probability. CBS would do well to spread this message far and wide. Let's stop the baseless accusations.
Jim Ogden, Dover, PA

I took the day off to work on the house and was sitting down to read the latest news on the internet. I followed a link from and almost choked to death on my breakfast bagel. A voice of reason from CBS!!!! More of this type of objective reporting on your evening broadcast, and I might start watching again…..
E. Royce White, Niceville, FL

It is a wonderful editorial, Washington has become a place where "winning" and "losing" seem to over ride doing what is best. Katrina provides just another example of this. If Congress really wants to help have each Congressman and Senator go to the Transportation bill and cut one Pork project from his district - that would go along way for paying for the cleanup.

Agree with everything you wrote, but now wonder how many days you have left at CBS News. Remember Bernard Goldberg.

I am sure that the politicians, President Bush and all parties concerned can walk and chew gum at the same time. I don't think it is too much to ask that questions be answered and the victims of Katrina be taken care of simultaneously. The race and class issue has been swept under the rug for too long. The real crime is that in 2005 America is still grappling with race relations and issues involving class distinction, not that it is mentioned. For a country that is quick to try and solve problems in other nations, how about if we solve our own first.

I disagree with you about 99 percent of the time. I read your articles and find your views often to be idiotic. However, and I can't believe I am writing this, you are right on the mark this time. We need to come together as a nation and help our fellow Americans. I am sick of the finger pointing. The blame game is distracting from the nations current task at hand. We have American citizens who need our help, immediately. Stop the political game that is exacerbating the situation.

For once I am in agreement with Dick Meyer. Dogs and cats playing together!
Brian P. Leech, Houston, Texas

We the "normal" American public agree with what Dick's article said. We are sick of politicians trying to get camera time at the expense of the real victims of a disaster which was impossible to prevent.
Thank you CBS News, for FINALLY getting the story right. If CBS continues along these lines, maybe we will give you another chance.
M. Nice, Corpus Christi, TX

Let me catch my breath...

It is hard to believe there is someone at CBS who can still tell the truth.

Please don't fire Dick Meyer for doing it. Who knows, truth-telling may catch on over there.
George Croft, Dallas, Texas

This was a great article on the political comments after Katrina. I have experience with emergency response and am tired of hearing people and mostly politicians that have never been in a command center spout off about "their assessment." As in warfare you do not send in forward relief without back channel support. You do not evacuate with no facility. Yes this is not a shinning moment for America but mostly for Washington. So much of response is not visible and that is the most essential work.

Keep up the writing and get yourself on the main CBS programming. Those of us who have been in a response command center are outraged at the Congressional, Hollywood and political commentary. I mean children are in schools only 9 days after. When FEMA rolled into New Orleans on Friday they were able to evacuate the city to established shelters due to work done on Wednesday and Thursday.
Timothy J Bates

For a moment, as I read it, I thought I was dreaming. This, surely, can not be a product of CBS. Then, I realized that, in fact, it had come from --- quite likely, a more enlightened and honorable group than those at TV and Radio. But then, who among us is not more enlightened and honorable than the "mainstream media".

Many thanks and I hope Dick Meyer can keep his job and keep these types of columns coming.
Greg Willcox, Spokane, WA

It is utterly refreshing to read a piece of such good common sense and lucidity.

Mr. Meyer clearly shows the link between our national propensity for litigation and the current scapegoating and finger pointing regarding Katrina. It's a subtle point, and worth pondering.
Jane Patsakos, Kentwood, Michigan

I am astonished to read the comments of Mr. Meyers. Are we taking a step forward in journalism when a MSM outlet speaks out about the political motivations of those who constantly jump in front of the cameras? There are a small percentage of citizens who always join in on this political division of our country but the over whelming number of citizens, I believe, are sick to death of this crap!
Ruth Skidmore, Plymouth CA

Bush has always been mighty quick and mighty good at playing the blame game on everyone else, so why should he and his henchmen not be held accountable?

This can't be blamed on Bush. It's all Clinton's fault. It's the fault of Democrats. If Clinton hadn't had sex with a woman, that hurricane would never have formed. Let's get him! No's the fault of TEACHERS! Teachers must be held accountable! Let's blame unions! Teacher's unions did it. We can't let those lousy teachers get away with this! Fire them all! Get rid of teachers! Get rid of their unions! Get rid of public education! Those lazy underprivileged people need to take some responsibility for their own education. They must be held accountable for their own actions!

But not Bush. Bush is not accountable for anything. The buck doesn't stop with him. It stops with YOU.

The media is just SO unfair. They pick on poor, innocent Bush all the time. So stop your whining on Bush's account.
Lanette Fox

Enough is right. Enough Bush can do no wrong talk.

From Jon Stewart on the "Daily Show": "Little observation: When people don't want to play the blame game? They're to blame."

Which school of criminal investigation would recommend that anyone interested in learning the truth wait and let evidence evaporate before an investigation begins? Are you so complacent that you are willing to wait until after the mid-term elections for the report that says the head of FEMA should have been fired not only for botched preparedness and botched rescue but you need to give him time to add botched recovery to the list? Out of respect for the dead, I want to know how many people suffered unnecessarily and I want to know how many died and I really want to know how many of them died between Monday and Friday.

I swear, the people who voted for Bush must have also signed a loyalty pledge and a pledge to hear no evil, see no evil, speak no ill of their potentate. I see he has set Sept. 16th as the national prayer for victims of Katrina day. Like I need him to tell me when to pray. I've been praying since day one. He should name the day his wing and a prayer day. Better yet, wing ding and a prayer day. Grrr . . .
Eldonna Ruddock

Racism was involved in the withholding of aid to the black citizens of New Orleans.

Your changing the subject to scapegoating is typical of the white-controlled media of today.

You enjoyed showing the suffering of those black people - didn't you?
Dick Richards, Atlanta GA

Yes, I agree that we all need to pull together. Unfortunately, the divisive, winner take all, unwillingness to take responsibility or to admit error, and responsiveness of the Bush administration only to the perceived constituency of the moneyed and the religious fundamentalists have set the tone for present plethora of finger pointing.

Your closing remarks imply a large part of the political problem in the U.S. They state:

"Most people thought 9/11 would bring the country together and ease the so-called culture wars. It may have for some, but certainly not for the politically engaged. And so it will be with Katrina."

Perhaps if those who are politically not engaged would become engaged, we would have an administration that truly represents the majority of the electorate. Then we might be better able to pull together.
Robert V. Hubbard, Springfield, VA

After reading your column "Scapegoats Can Wait", I have come to the considered conclusion that you're an idiot.

Read this aloud and perhaps it will sink in: The hurricane was a natural disaster. The flooding was man-made. Are you getting it now?

Objecting to a president who leaves thousands to die while he plays guitar is not partisan. It's human. In case you haven't noticed, this country has come together over this crisis. It's come together in condemnation of this incompetent administration. The only thing embarrassing is clueless columnists like yourself who refuse to believe the abundant evidence before their eyes.

I really couldn't care less about the democratic "leaders." When will you start saying what really needs to be said: that this president is so overmatched by the demands of his job that he needs to resign.

How many more Americans -- Americans for God's sake -- need to die before "journalists" like you will take a stand? Are your career and connections really that important? What if it was your family lying dead under the flood waters? Would you still want to wait for answers?
Yours in disgust,
John Graziano