And I'm E of We Could Be Famous. I'm so happy to be blogging alongside the shellfish today. We're going to thieve away all of the Rude Pundit's fame and use it for our own selves!
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I have a question.
What the hell is 'Katrina fatigue?'
My understanding is that the phrase 'Katrina fatigue' describes the perceived decline in national interest in the recovery efforts of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The term does more than point out the obvious in regards to the ephemeral nature of 21st century media. It implies a saturation, a torrent of Katrina and New Orleans related coverage that ultimately spoiled American attentiveness. Certainly when considering mainstream national discourse or even online progressive discourse, it would appear that 'Katrina fatigue' has indeed relegated recovery news and views to the periphery. If it is not now mostly treated as a regional issue, it is increasingly buried on a dishearteningly long list of Bush administration disgraces.
Now that we are approaching the third anniversary of the levee breaches with the same long list of basic human needs that the government fails to meet, are we even still on the radar? Is the New Orleans recovery an issue in the Presidential campaign? Has the right-wing so effectively faulted the people of New Orleans for the federal government's pathetic disaster response that the issue is too hot of a potato for Barack Obama to touch?
I was lucky enough to attend Netroots Nation '08 in Austin with Mr. Pundit. One of the panels there was a fun sort of pundit practice session in which Matt Yglesias and another guy played faux-conservatives on a hostile cable news show. They critiqued participants on their posture and on the talking points they used to score points in the 'spin zone.' As I waited for my turn in front of the camera, I went over in my head the types of right-wing attacks I expected to be forced to confront. I assumed it would be something along the lines of "Wasn't it mostly Ray Nagin's fault?" or "Why are we even rebuilding that city, shouldn't we just raze the whole thing?"
But when it was my turn the question was "So everything's back to normal, right?"
For whatever reason, THAT never crossed my mind as something anyone would think. Actually living in New Orleans has made that assumption so ridiculous that I guess I totally forgot that Americans who have obtained their sense of the recovery from the opening montage of Fox's BCS championship coverage might internalize this poor representation of reality.
So while I fumbled my way through my pundit audition, I realized how little America knows about the present-day situation in New Orleans and also how difficult it is to tell the truth about what is going on without presenting the task at hand as totally insurmountable.
But if America has "Katrina fatigue," will it make any difference how New Orleans residents shape their message for a national audience?
My heart says something else about the media and America's "Katrina fatigue."
Try experiencing "Katrina fatigue" as a New Orleanian.
We might be tired of fucking hearing about it ourselves. We reached our Katrina saturation point almost three whole years ago.