Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Don't Get Stuck On Stupid
Whew! Does this man have a way with words, or what?
Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, in command of American troops in the Gulf of Mexico, was giving a joint press conference with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. The basic announcement was simple: evacuations for Hurricane Rita would be taking place in an orderly manner, with buses leaving from the New Orleans Convention Center.
But it seems that the "gentlemen of the press" weren't satisfied with getting an emergency message out to the people of New Orleans. So they started self-panicking, and flustering the mayor with blame-game questions... at which point the General steps in:
Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as "He said, he said, we said". All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?(emphasis mine)
Female reporter: Where do they move on...
Honore: That's not your business.
Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...
Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay?
Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged. The initial place is at the convention center. We're not going to announce other places at this time, until we get a plan set, and we'll let people know where those locations are, through the government, and through public announcements. Right now, to handle the number of people that want to leave, we've got the capacity. You will come to the convention center. There are soldiers there from the 82nd Airborne, and from the Louisiana National Guard. People will be told to get on the bus, and we will take care of them. And where they go will be dependent on the capacity in this state. We've got our communications up. And we'll tell them where to go. And when they get there, they'll be able to get a chance, an opportunity to get registered, and so they can let their families know where they are. But don't start panic here. Okay? We've got a location. It is in the front of the convention center, and that's where we will use to migrate people from it, into the system.
Male reporter: General Honore, we were told that Berman Stadium on the west bank would be another staging area...
Honore: Not to my knowledge. Again, the current place, I just told you one time, is the convention center. Once we complete the plan with the mayor, and is approved by the governor, then we'll start that in the next 12-24 hours. And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers. Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.
Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...
Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.
I love it! The reporters need to be reminded to do their jobs... and they've found a general who isn't afraid to tell them.
I have a feeling that reporters will be avoiding Gen. Honore if they can. "No, you go to the press conference. I went to the last one."
Reminds me also of Donald Rumsfeld -- who, early on, surprised people by being just as blunt at his press conferences. ("Why are we introducing such dangerous weapons into the Iraqi theater, Mr. Secretary?" "Well son, we're introducing those weapons so that we can hunt down the enemy and kill him." "Oh.")
"You are stuck on stupid". I'm gonna have to remember that one. Or buy a bumper sticker!
UPDATE: ...or start reading a new blog...