Roberts' Blunt Answers To Readers On Reporter Rescues

I have to read a lot of e-mail from viewers and readers for my job. No matter what the inbox, one of the most asked questions since Hurricane Katrina is a variant of this: how come the rich and fancy network teams didn't rescue more people with your helicopters, boats and choppers instead to reporting the news all the time?

Well, I wasn't there but John Roberts was and he answered this question in a recent online feature. I liked his blunt, no-coddling the reader response:

As for what was happening on the ground, let me share with you the following. We were dispatched to the hurricane in such a rush that I brought with me only a few changes of clothing and a handful of breakfast bars. Our camera crews -- some of whom drove in -- brought little more than that, as no one thought this was going to be much more than a three day assignment.

By Thursday, we were out of food and down to our last bottle of water. Our situation was becoming quite dire. Even so, when we came across people on the Interstate, and in the neighborhoods, we gave them what we could to help out. And when we finally got re-supplied (Friday morning), we freely shared water and snacks with people who were left high and dry with nothing. On more than one occasion, we gave away everything we had in our crew vehicle --even though we still had hours of work in the hot sun ahead of us.

Perhaps what you are complaining about is that we didn't make a point of telling our viewers that. It's not appropriate for us to blow our own horns. We helped people out of concern for their well-being, not to showboat.

By Friday, the National Guard had set up a food distribution site near the convention center and was delivering food and water to people on the interstate, so the need for us to help folks out became quite diminished. But whenever we went out in our boat, we made sure that we took along enough supplies to do what we could for people who were still out in their flooded homes.

I'm sorry if I'm on a bit of a tirade here, but questions like yours are posited by people who have absolutely no understanding of the situation in New Orleans during those days.

To a person, everyone whom we interviewed was thankful that we stopped to speak with them. So many official vehicles had passed them by. They wanted their story out, and they knew that we would tell it. And, yes, we did rescue several people -- and a lot of pets. Again, we just didn't make a point of it. We were there to report the news, not grandstand.

And to those reporters (all on cable, of course) who did grandstand, well, you know who you are.