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Critical Rhetorics of Race$
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Michael G. Lacy and Kent A. Ono

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814762226

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762226.001.0001

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The Media’s Framing of Black Looters, Shooters, and Brutes in Hurricane Katrina’s Aftermath

(p.21) 1 Apocalypse
Critical Rhetorics of Race

Michael G. Lacy

Kathleen C. Haspel

NYU Press

This chapter shows how dominant news stories featured dangerous black male brutes who took over New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and became the most lethal and destructive hurricane in U.S. history, causing 1,836 deaths, destroying 300,000 homes, and costing $150 billion in damages across three states. Media coverage of the storm's aftermath was marked by crime news reports that New Orleans had descended into chaos, anarchy, and lawlessness. However, further investigation revealed that almost all news media reports of looting, shooting, rapes, murders, and mayhem were unsubstantiated, exaggerated, or false. Federal and state government officials believe that the inaccurate news reports “slowed the response to the disaster and tarnish[ed] the image of the victims.”

Keywords:   Hurricane Katrina, media coverage, inaccurate news reports, dangerous black people

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