Remembering Jim Lehrer with PBS Newshour

We are saddened to hear about the passing of PBS News Anchor Jim Lehrer. Mr. Lehrer was a visionary who provided substantial and valuable coverage for in its earliest years.

One example is on June 1, 2006, when corps commander Lt Gen Carl Strock apologized for a major failure in the levee system protecting New Orleans, but was quick to lay blame on local New Orleans officials.

In 2006, the powerful Army Corps of Engineers controlled the narrative about why the levees broke, and was but a fledgling grassroots group. But that did not deter Jim Lehrer.

Below is an excerpt about Mr. Lehrer from founder Sandy Rosenthal’s upcoming book, Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina (Mango Publishing) due out in August 2020 as a lead title:

June 1, 2006

“I felt someone touch my arm. It was Betty Ann Bowser with Jim Lehrer’s PBS Newshour. She wanted to hear my commentary on today’s events, but she wanted to interview me at the site of one of the levee breaches. So we agreed to meet at the 17th Street Canal floodwall breach site at 12:00 sharp.

I arrived on time and it was hot! Betty Ann Bowser’s heavy makeup glistened in the noon sun, but she bravely withstood the searing heat, held the microphone to my face and asked, “Are you happy? The Army Corps has just said they are sorry for the flooding, and that they had a major failure. Isn’t that what you wanted?” “Actually no, we are not pleased,” I replied. “The Army Corps has taken responsibility ‘at the end of the day’ supposedly, but they have shifted responsibility away from themselves and, in effect blamed the local citizenry by blaming local officials for blocking the Army Corps’ original plans.” “But the Army Corps has said they had a major failure!” exclaimed Ms. Bowser, clearly exasperated, probably by both me and the heat. “Isn’t that enough?”

“No, it’s not,” I replied. “Until Congress recognizes that the failure of the levees and floodwalls were a federal responsibility, the people of this region will not get the relief they deserve.””

For the New York Times story about Jim Lehrer, click here.



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